April 6: Letters to the editor

Rancho Santa Fe Association Assessment fees

The Rancho Santa Fe HOA dues discrepancy issue, mentioned in an article in our local RSF newspaper recently, is but one of several problems with our current assessment situation.

Problem #1

Using the current County Assessor’s valuation as a basis for the RSF dues goes way back in time to our 1928 governing documents. This dues calculation is inequitable because it’s based on assessed value per parcel and further compounded by Prop 13 which creates a disparity in assessed value. Changing anything that would require an alteration to our long-established governing documents would most likely never get approval needed until the majority is affected.

Problem #2

Most assessments in other HOA’s are usually based on the same fee per lot/parcel. In our case, it would mean each family on each parcel pays the same amount for the same services. While this makes sense and is fair, one could then argue that we have all different kinds of parcel sizes (even though most are single family zoned) and size matters, so good luck on that one. A solution might be to develop a range of fees based on groups of parcel sizes.

Problem #3

Very important to some, is the fact that every parcel owner in RSF is charged an assessment fee but not every parcel owner has a vote. This “taxation without representation” issue involves parties that own more than one residential property and also to commercial property owners, who all pay their assessments, but have No vote on Association matters.

Looking at the big picture of RSF Association dues, I really feel that they represent a very good value for our community. Our Association is taking care of everything, aside from the County that provides for our roads and other necessary services, since we don’t seem to want to be our own municipality. We have a staff of approximately 140 people who maintain facilities which include common areas, recreational facilities, security patrols, administrative staff and offices for related functions much like a city.

Our current budgeted assessment rate is 14 cents per $100 per assessed valuation. The assessment fee inequity was partially created via Prop 13 and is impacted by changes in the real estate market cycles, which is why a more equitable formula should be used. We each have equal benefit of the services but we each pay a disproportionate amount of dues.

That being said, we also need to pay attention to the makeup of the RSF Association board since the board members make all Covenant decisions for us, including the allocation of our dues. We need to make sure that they represent the broad scope of our property ownership and there are no conflicting interests, i.e. board majority of active membership in same club and/or other organizations, i.e. golf, tennis, etc. that could present a vested interest.

Our HOA assessment fees are set annually in June at a public hearing and these annual dues help make everything happen that makes our Rancho Santa Fe community special.

Marion Dodson

Rancho Santa Fe

Just another after-school program?

In Spanish, “casa” means “home,” but I’m sure many of you know that. What you probably don’t know, is what Casa de Amistad provides for children and families in our community. It is a second home built by mentors who help students reach their potential.

Casa de Amistad (Casa) was formed in 1997 to improve the literacy skills and academic achievement of at risk children and teens in coastal North County San Diego. Since then, Casa’s mentoring program has grown from serving three students on the first night to over 230 children, teens and their parents annually. Through my involvement with the Del Sol Lions Club, I have been fortunate enough to volunteer for Casa on multiple occasions and saw firsthand what a substantial difference they make in students’ lives, both academically and personally.

I am a public relations and advertising student at Chapman University and last semester I was assigned a project in my statistics class that required me to collect and analyze data. Math has never been my best subject, so I figured if I was going to be invested in this project, I would have to report on something I cared about: Casa. With the help of Nicole Mione-Green, Casa’s director, I digitized and analyzed 185 parent and 143 student surveys from the 2014-2015 academic year.

The goal of my research was to quantify Casa’s effects on its members to definitively determine if it was actually helping at risk students. After eight weeks of recoding and analyzing the survey results, I had my answer.

I found that Casa truly was helping underserved students. In fact, 70 percent of Casa’s parents do not have higher than a middle school education and 59 percent of them live below the national poverty line. For the parents of Casa’s students, education is one of the most important things in life and they do all they can to help their children succeed.

Casa recently implemented a Parents in Action program which gives parents the opportunity to learn positive parenting strategies, attend programs addressing community needs and leadership training. Because of this, I looked into parents’ effects on students’ academic outcomes. The data showed that in addition to Casa’s tutors, getting parents involved in their children’s education through this program yielded an immense increase in students’ academic performance.

Overall, my research proved that Casa’s mentoring program has a significant positive influence on student’s academic success, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Moving forward, I hope to do more research to determine how to improve the program so Casa has the means to help as many students as possible.

To be a part of this incredible nonprofit organization, you can attend their annual fundraiser to benefit Casa’s students on Saturday, April 8, at the Fairbanks Country Club. You can also donate or apply to volunteer to be a mentor by going to their website: http://www.casadeamistad.org/.

Katie Page

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