Ramona is a census-designated place (CDP) in San Diego County, California. The population was 20,292 as of the 2010 census.
The term “Ramona” also refers to an unincorporated community (with some plans to incorporate) that includes both the Ramona CDP and the adjacent CDP of San Diego Country Estates. The population of the two CDPs, which doesn’t include the fringe areas surrounding the CDPs, was 30,301 at the 2010 census, up from 25,223 at the 2000 census. The Ramona Community Planning Area had a population of 33,404 at the 2000 census. The January 1st, 2006, population of the Ramona Community Planning Area is estimated to be 36,405 by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). USDA Hardiness Zones are 9b and 10a.
In the 1960s, boxer Archie Moore held a training camp called “Salt Mine,” which trained George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. Moore fought from 1936 until 1963 and battled the top names in boxing at the time, including Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson, and Muhammad Ali. He won 185 of his 219 bouts before retiring at 49 years old after losing to Ali. Moore’s connection to San Diego was his retreat, the Salt Mine Training Camp in Ramona. He called it “Salt Mine” because he said he worked as hard there to get ready for fights as anyone did in a salt mine. The property, at the foot of Mt. Woodson, included 120 acres with five homes, a boxing ring, a sweatbox (steam room) and miles of winding country roads and trails that Moore used for road work. Moore often encountered rattlesnakes and even mountain lions on his runs.
On Mother’s Day—May 13th, 1973, Ramona entered the national spotlight. 55-year-old former-tennis-great-turned-hustler Bobby Riggs challenged the then 30-year-old women’s world number-one player, Margaret Court, to a match. The match was staged at Ramona’s San Diego Country Estates. Riggs won easily, 6-2, 6-1. He later lost to Billie Jean King in The Battle of the Sexes at the Houston, Texas, Astrodome, on September 20th, 1973.
The Cedar Fire began in Ramona approximately 3 miles (5 km) east of the San Diego Country Estates area, on October 25th, 2003. The fire would eventually consume approximately 280,000 acres (1,133 km2), burn 2,820 buildings (including 2,232 homes), and take 15 lives. The Cedar Fire was the largest fire in California history at the time. In her book A Canyon Trilogy, author Chi Varnado—a longtime Ramona resident—described many of the hardships the victims faced in the aftermath of the fire.
The Witch Fire began near Ramona near the area called Witch Creek on October 21st, 2007. By three days later it had burned approximately 195,000 acres (789 km2) in San Diego County with over 640 homes destroyed, 250 damaged, and 12 firefighters injured, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. Roads into the town were closed. On October 24th the Witch Fire merged with another fire called the Poomacha, which had originated in the area of the La Jolla Indian Reservation. Along with more than 10 other fires burning in San Diego County at the same time, the Witch-Poomacha fire caused the largest mandatory evacuations in U.S. history, with over 500,000 people displaced as of October 24th.
In January 2006, Ramona Valley was designated the country’s 162nd American Viticultural Area (AVA) by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which recognized the area for its distinctive microclimate, elevation, and soil attributes.
In May 2009, a grade 6 student at Mt. Woodson Elementary, Natalie Jones, was forbidden from delivering a class presentation on assassinated gay San Francisco city councilor Harvey Milk because her principal, and later the school district, declared it a “sensitive” issue that not all parents might want their children to learn about. The American Civil Liberties Union labeled the school district’s actions as censorship and stepped in to give the school district five days to reverse its decision and promise never to do anything like it again, or they would launch a lawsuit on Natalie’s behalf. The school district didn’t immediately respond.