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Letters/Opinion: 2018: Oct. 25, Nov. 1, Nov. 8, Nov. 29; 2019: March 7, March 21, March 28

Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent to Kenton Jones, managing traffic engineer for San Diego County, the RSF Association Board of Directors, and RSF Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser. It was also sent to this newspaper for publication.

Oct. 25:

  1. Intersection improvement appreciated

I am pleased Rancho Santa Fe’s dysfunctional intersection of Calzada del Bosque and Rambla de las Flores at Linea del Cielo will be improved by making it a four-way stop. Is there going to be any improvement in the alignment of the two side streets, Calzada and Rambla?
Other than a telephone pole, which would have to be relocated slightly, there is minimal infrastructure work needed. The realignment would greatly improve sight lines for drivers approaching the intersection on Rambla de las Flores. Moving the pole would increase safety (drivers have crashed into the poles in that location with the automobile occupants injured at least three times in the last 10 years), traffic flow would be improved and, therefore, wait times decreased because of the more direct, faster, easier and safer way of crossing Linea del Cielo resulting from this improvement.

Thank you for your effort. I am very supportive of this intersection being improved in these ways, and appreciate the consideration of all parties regarding the many benefits, especially the improvement in safety from realigning one side street directly across from the other at the same time.

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Janice Joerger

Rancho Santa Fe

Nov. 1:

Assessment change would make it fair for all

Here’s some more information on the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant Residents for Fair Assessments’ lawsuit.

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The Association collects about $6 million from members every year. Approximately half of all members pay a total of $1 million while the other half pay $5 million per year. A 500 percent difference.

The way we allocate Association dues (based on a percentage of county tax assessment), is illegal for new homeowner associations (HOAs) under the California Davis-Stirling law that regulates HOAs. When Prop. 13 was passed in the 1970s, the Association should have undertaken the effort to change the way dues are assessed when everyone was paying an equal amount, but they didn’t, and so this inequity problem has gotten worse year by year.

We have approximately 2,000 home sites in RSF. If we simply divide $6 million/2,000 = $3,000 per year per home site. So if everyone paid the same amount, our dues would be about $250 a month.

For comparison, the average San Diego condo pays $330/month on property that is worth on average $385,000.

A nearby gated community homeowner pays $700/month.

I was recently paying about $600/month for an empty parcel in Wildflower Estates in Olivenhain.

The point is that this shouldn’t be a big issue. Lifestyles aren’t going to change if we were to ask everyone to pay $250/month. No one should have to sell their property at that rate.

Such a change, however, would make it fair for all.

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Phil Trubey

Nov. 8:

‘Won’t you be my (compassionate) neighbor?’

To say that I was dismayed in reading the article about the litigious actions taken by the group of members calling themselves the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant Residents for Fair Assessment is putting it mildly.

A lawsuit effectively suing yourselves and your fellow Covenant community homeowners does not sound “right neighborly” at all. And who are the 50 complainants? Why was there no name affixed to the “group spokesperson”?

The RSF Association assessment policy is clearly defined and agreed to in writing during the purchase process. What is “unfair” is that we privileged souls get to live here and the rest of the world does not.

We pride ourselves on the fact that our historical community is not like and cannot be compared to any other, such as Emerald Bay which is a much newer master-planned endeavor.

May the members of the RSF Covenants for Fair Assessment identify themselves so we have an open conversation. We should be discussing how to improve our property values by millions of dollars rather than subjecting ourselves to a foolish fight over what has been part of our collective agreement since each of us decided to move to this glorious place.

Janet Lawless Christ

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Covenant Resident and Realtor

Nov. 29:

Water rate hike: Vote ‘No’ - Sign Prop. 218 protest form now

As a lifelong resident of Rancho Santa Fe, I support the Rancho Santa Fe Association’s (RSFA) thorough and professional dialogue with Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID) to entreat the SFID Board of Directors to put in place a rate structure that is equitable for all its customers, regardless of the size of their property.

Publicly available SFID agenda packets reflect that month after month the RSFA made its case to the SFID. Those same SFID agenda packets show that SFID never specifically addressed any of the thoroughly explained points made by the RSFA’s rate consultant. SFID essentially said a polite “Thank you for your input,” and then on to the next subject.

Our California Constitution requires that every property owner in the SFID be given the opportunity to submit a written protest to say they do not agree with the proposed rate structure. The deadline for turning in the written protest forms is Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. The Association has provided the forms at the RSFA front counter, or one can download the Protest Form at www.RSFAssociation.org.

It is important to emphasize submitting a written protest form does not suggest SFID doesn’t need additional money for operations. It means there is disagreement with how SFID proposes to obtain additional money from its customers. A “no” vote is a message to the SFID Board of Directors to direct staff to go back to their rate consultants for alternative rate structures.

Water is essential to maintaining and nurturing Rancho Santa Fe’s way of life. We have invested significant financial resources in our scenic landscaped properties. SFID was initially organized in 1922 to provide water for local agriculture. The Ranch began as a high-end “Gentlemen Farmer” development of peaceful citrus groves and hillsides. We must protect and preserve the historic use of our properties.

If the current rate proposal is approved in December, RSF’s water rates will increase at least another 5 - 6 percent compounded each year for years two and three, factoring in yearly wholesaler rate increases. Over the last three years our water rates have increased in the range of 25 percent, upwards of 50 percent, depending on usage. That means by 2021 the water rates will be between 36 percent to 60 percent higher than four years ago.

Rancho Santa Fe Association is asking for rates that are equitable for all customers in the Santa Fe Irrigation District.

Your voice is important. Vote “No”— Sign Prop 218 Protest Form, now!

Holly Manion,

Native

March 7

Proposed teacher layoffs at R. Roger Rowe

As a parent of two children at R. Roger Rowe, I am greatly concerned about the school board’s proposal to potentially layoff 19 teachers. The district has a substantial deficit that must be remedied. However, there has been no explanation of the rationale behind these possible layoffs, nor mention of alternative methods of lowering expenses such as reducing administrative staff or scaling these changes over time. Superintendent Tripi claims to have sought input from teachers and staff, yet I have not been able to find a single teacher or administrator who was consulted in this process.

Our school has long prided itself on excellence in academics and whole-student development. A reduction in teaching positions of this scope simply cannot produce equivalent caliber of instruction, in my opinion. The bulk of these cuts affect the elementary school, grades K-5, our youngest students and potentially most vulnerable. Included in these sweeping eliminations are five reading specialists as well as the advanced math and computer science teacher. Ms. Tripi states these same classes and services will remain but will be taught by existing middle school teachers. It is not clear to me how this is logistically feasible. Teachers are not interchangeable pieces of equipment that can simply be moved to wherever it is most cost effective. Our current elementary advanced math teacher has a graduate degree as an elementary math specialist. She has worked tirelessly to create a truly custom curriculum for our advanced students, specific to each elementary grade level. With the adoption of these proposed layoffs, her position will be eliminated and will be absorbed by middle school faculty. Can a middle school teacher maintain the same level of individualization with third graders while simultaneously instructing eighth graders? Is a middle school teacher the right person to engage shy first graders and inspire love of computer science and coding? This is no criticism of our middle school faculty, I am just voicing concerns about keeping our wonderful teachers in their respective areas of specialty.

Finally, the board stated these changes are not intended to balance the budget but represent our new leadership’s “vision” for our school. Where was the stakeholder input in this process? With all due respect to Ms. Tripi, she has been employed since January 2 and I do not feel this is adequate time to fully understand our environment. I have witnessed no attempt to seek community input. Where is the parent engagement our school board assured? There has been no public presentation of this vision. The perception is that the board does not want input from parents or staff, and if that is indeed the reality I am deeply concerned for the future of our school.

Julie Buechler

March 21 (guest column):

RSF superintendent right sizes school district’s budget

New RSF School District Superintendent Donna Tripi has answered the Rancho Santa Fe School board’s request for a balanced budget in 2019-20 by proposing a reallocation of resources that better align with the district’s current and projected student population.

The R. Roger Rowe School currently has 601 students and projects a decline over the next five years. Overall, San Diego County is also facing a population decline and many school districts are making adjustments. Rancho Santa Fe District School Board President Sarah Neal says, “We asked Donna to recommend a balanced budget next year while continuing to evaluate and improve the high level of instruction and services our school community expects.”

The school board received input on district priorities and expectations in the fall from all stakeholder groups, through focus groups and a survey conducted by the superintendent search consultants. Neal adds, “The community feels that balancing the budget for the 2019-20 school year is an important priority and the board agrees.”

Before assuming her duties in Rancho Santa Fe on Jan. 2, 2019, Superintendent Tripi was a 20-year principal at La Jolla Elementary School. Under her leadership, LJES was a recipient of the California Distinguished Schools Award in 2008, 2012 and 2018, which recognizes outstanding education programs and practices. Additionally, in 2016 the school was named a California Gold Ribbon School, a National Blue Ribbon School, and earned the San Diego Unified School District’s Quality Schools in Every Neighborhood Award for Quality Leadership, Teaching and Learning.

In a letter to school parents on Feb. 25, and in a follow-up presentation at the RSF School board meeting on March 14, Tripi laid out her plan to right size the budget while delivering educational excellence for students at R. Roger Rowe School. Most notably, the 20:1 average student to teacher ratio for all grades K-8 will remain unchanged. Small class sizes are a hallmark of the R. Roger Rowe Schools since the original Rancho Santa Fe Education Foundation (née The Rancho Santa Fe Endowment Fund) was formed in 1997. The Education Foundation currently raises $1 million annually. The Education Foundation’s Endowment Fund is valued at $5 million, and distributed $171,000 to the district this year from interest and investment income.

In addition to the continuation of small class size, Tripi plans to continue the following current programs and services, though the staffing and delivery will look different starting in the 2019-20 school year: Literacy and math intervention, advanced math for grades 3-5, K-5 music, art, coding, and drama, 100 minutes of K-5 PE taught by a certificated PE teacher, all middle school academic classes and programs, including most PE options, lunch club options, and a rich offering of electives. Dance is being eliminated in the middle school (enrollment this first year was just 7 students). The library will no longer be staffed by a certificated teacher but will be available for student use and visits with classroom teachers.

Additionally, Tripi will be working directly with administrators and teachers on the following: a new curriculum adoption that aligns with Next Generation Science Standards K-8, a review of math curriculum and instruction K-8 that may also include new curriculum and professional development for teachers, and the continuation of resources and professional development related to the Reading and Writing Workshops.

Tripi says, “This is a wonderful school district with high performing students and a talented staff, but I think through the proposed changes we can have an even stronger program.”

Regarding proposed staff layoffs, Tripi says, “Personnel changes are never easy, but with our current and projected enrollment, the current level of staffing is not sustainable.” She notes that Education Code dictates that teachers who could potentially be laid off needed to receive preliminary notices by March 15 and that it is a very complex and legal process. Other cuts may be made to central office, but can be done at a later date.

RSF School Board President Neal concludes, “We have 100 percent confidence in Donna’s ability to lead based on her excellent 35-year track record in education.” She adds, “All five of us [RSF School board members] have children at the R. Roger Rowe School, so we have a vested interest in making sure that the district offers the best education to its students and is fiscally responsible to taxpayers.”

-- Submitted statement from the RSF School District.

Stop signs on Linea del Cielo and traffic in general

I am a longtime resident of the Ranch and the amount of traffic and cars cutting through has gotten ridiculous.

They are putting in a stop sign for those using one of the two main roads to get through the Ranch, Linea del Cielo, the other being Via de la Valle.

That neighborhood in Encinitas put up a barrier to prevent people from cutting past their houses to get to La Costa Canyon High School.

Rancho Santa Fe should have started putting some barriers up a long time ago.

The other potential solution is 25 MPH speed limits and very strict enforcement during commute times.

More and more homes are being built in all the surrounding areas. If we continue to wait we’ll end up waiting in more traffic and stop sign lines.

Scott (Dave) Hanley Jr.

Rancho Santa Fe


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