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Letters to the Editor

Letters/Opinion: May, June, July 2019

May 23 issue:

Consider improvement assessment for roundabouts

On Feb. 7, the RSF Association sent a letter to the Covenant Design Review Committee (CDRC) to ensure the CDRC enforces the Covenant, noting excessive grading with unrestrained mass and scale along with homes inconsistent with Latin-style design. Supposedly, the intent was to correct what was occurring here.

Rather than dwell on what happened next, we have an opportunity to vote for a new Association board.

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So let’s consider what the Covenant has meant to our community as we choose to be a part of this place. We certainly need to have the Covenant as set forth in 1928, followed and enforced for development.

We have a special maintenance and improvement district established with the County of San Diego.

As RSF Association members, we might consider expanding the district assessments to cover the cost of six roundabouts. Three along Paseo Delicias, two on Linea del Cielo at Calzada del Bosque/Rambla de los Flores and Linea del Cielo at El Camino Real, and one on La Bajada at La Noria. Consider this improvement assessment for roundabouts as you did for fiber optic for internet.

Martin D. Wilson

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Rancho Santa Fe

May 30 issue:

How do you want your RSFA dollars spent?

There is no doubt the RSF Golf Club (GC) is a tremendous asset for our community. However…

The Rancho Santa Fe Association (RSFA) is the governing entity and owns all the land and buildings of the GC, the RSF Tennis Club (“TC”), and Osuna. These other entities are merely divisions of the RSFA. The GC operates according to an Operating Agreement that gives it the RSFA land rent-free in return for assuming responsibility for operation.

Thirteen years ago, the GC had over 600 members, and launched a plan to spend approximately $12 million to renovate the existing building and construct a “Players’ Clubhouse.”

We now know that the GC Players’ Clubhouse has not been a success. The GC ignored all suggestions about the project, including warnings about the economic in-feasibility and the danger of building on top of an underground river, as it spent the majority of the $12 million building the “Players’ Clubhouse.” The debt was to be repaid in six years, but 13 years later about half of the debt is still unpaid. Who were the leading proponents of this plan?

Should members be concerned about the new GC plan? The GC’s president’s March message, in the “Divot,” asks: “How can we more equitably share the costs and responsibilities of a facility that is really an asset to the entire community – GC and Social members alike?” However worthwhile making the restaurant more of a social hub for the Covenant community, the GC is clearly saying they want more money from the RSFA.

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The GC should be honest about its current financial situation. The “Players’ Clubhouse” is under-utilized. The GC is under financial pressure due to rising costs and declining membership. Presently, there are about 430 GC members, which includes 26 former residents and 43 Jr. Executive players who pay the initiation fees pro-rata until age 50. Having fewer members and rising costs will require either higher GC dues, or getting more money from the RSFA, or exploring allowing non-resident memberships. The new GC manager is taking steps to improve the operation of the restaurant, but the plea for a “more equitable” sharing of the costs is on the table.

If the majority of the RSFA board is filled by past and current GC leadership, will the cost sharing be equitable to all RSFA members?

Lisa M. Bartlett

42-Year Association with Covenant

20+ Year RSFA member

Correction to previous letter

With my apologies, I made a small error on the previous definition of the proposed bylaws amendment up for vote in your recently received ballots.

The error was simple: In my prior letter, which ran May 23 in this newspaper, I stated the bylaws amendment required the signature of 100 members to put the matter to a vote of all members – when developers apply for an increase density from Class A to B (as was the case in the Quantum developer’s proposal), or from B to C.

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The fact is the bylaws amendment makes a vote of all Covenant members mandatory and automatic, without the need of neighbors spending precious time to gather signatures to oppose these densification projects.

Simply put, if the currently in place, and so far successful density increase protection mechanisms fail (500’ neighbors, and the Covenant Design Review Committee and the RSF Association board all approve this kind of density increases) then a Covenant-wide member vote is automatic, without any action required by members to force such a vote.

This error was brought to my attention by the RSF Association board, who have unanimously supported this amendment to put the ultimate say on densification projects in the hands of all community members via this automatic and binding vote.

Although we believe this is an incremental and powerful statement to developers who would destroy the rural ambiance of the community for a few dollars in profit, there is more work to be done to further protect us against densification, and we hope to work with the new incoming RSF Association Board of Directors to further strengthen our ability to preserve the Ranch as a rural environment for the next 100 years.

Saiid Zarrabian

Rancho Santa Fe

June 6 issue:

RSF Golf Club a tremendous community asset

I read the letter titled “How do you want your RSFA dollars spent?” with interest.

I agree with Lisa Bartlett on three points. One, the RSF Golf Club is a tremendous asset for our community. Two, making the restaurant more of a social hub for the community is worthwhile. And, three, the new GC manager is taking steps to improve the restaurant operation. All of those are good things.

But, on her other points I don’t agree.

She says that the GC Players’ Clubhouse is not a success. That is untrue. The Golf Club has opened the space up, and enhanced some of the decorating, providing a current energy and vitality that is enjoyed by the Golf Club members. Members are enjoying drinks and appetizers almost daily. With the added game tables, and outdoor gathering spots, including a new fire pit, it has become a “go-to” space for team lunches, parties and golf member events like the successful Trivia night that was held weekly during the month of May.

She says that the Golf Club is under financial pressure. That is clearly not true if you read the financial statements. The club produces a small operating profit each year and, when one adds in enrollment fees, the cash flow is very solid.

Where the financial pressure she mentions comes from is the desire to invest in the future and make the Main Clubhouse more of a social hub for the community, which, as Lisa herself says, is worthwhile. Many residents feel that a great neighborhood casual restaurant, available only to Covenant homeowners, with indoor/outdoor spaces that overlook the golf course, would be a “lifestyle-changer,” and a very worthwhile community asset.

I know that a design team has been hired to investigate the possibility of rebranding and remodeling the Main Clubhouse, making it more inviting to the whole community.

Why throw cold water on such a worthwhile effort at this point?

Deb Gustafson

Rancho Santa Fe

June 13 issue:

Suggestions to increase RSF Golf Club membership

In response to Lisa Bartlett’s thoughtful letter on May 30, I would like to suggest that the membership of the RSF Golf Club be returned to 600 members by letting members bring in their friends from outside of the Covenant, as the tennis players do. These non-Covenant members could pay extra as they do not own a part interest in the golf course. The golf course is certainly not crowded.

In addition, the Golf Club members could rent out their Golf Club “Players’ Clubhouse” for special occasions and use the money to pay off their debt.

Joan Voelz

Member of the RSF Association for 51 years

In support of the horses I love

Horse racing in California has been getting the worst press possible. I have been involved and loved horse racing since I was 15 years old and while the industry has changed since then, there are major changes being made to improve the sport and safety of horses. California can’t afford to lose an industry. The people calling for horse racing to stop in California have other agendas and don’t really care about the animals. They want your vote and your money. Nobody cares more for the horses than the people who work with them. Having owned horses all my life, race horses too, they get hurt just being in their stalls.

While the number of deaths were high at Santa Anita it has been determined part of the cause was the rain and sealing of the race track. Do you really think the world is better without the thoroughbreds? I couldn’t even imagine how awful that would be. Thoroughbreds are magnificent intelligent horses. Stop harassing the racing industry. All you politicians please start paying attention to homelessness, drug addicts, PTSD sufferers, our economy and jobs, more important issues in the world. Don’t throw away an entire industry of which you know nothing about.

Marla Zanelli

Encinitas

June 20 issue:

Reinstate limited RSF Golf Club membership for Covenant residents

In response to several letters regarding the dwindling membership and revenues of the golf club, consider the following: Reinstate limited membership for Covenant residents. Covenant residents desiring some minimal use of the course (which they currently underwrite through Association fees that support the Golf Club’s second loan note) be permitted to purchase annually a 12-play card for $1,200 allowing them to make 12 tee-times for up to a foursome for each tee time. Each player pays greens fees of $100 plus a $20 cart fee. Total greens fee is $220, cart included, which is fair, equitable and comparable to all but U.S. Open courses nationally. It is actually comparable to non-San Diego residents for Torrey Pines, a U.S. Open site.

All club facilities would be available throughout the year for these “limited” members. This concept will generate an additional $6,480 in golf revenue plus any sundry expenses for range balls, clothing, food and beverage. Limited memberships could be restricted to 20-50 members depending on course play.

This has the potential to provide between $130,0000 and $320,000 new revenue annually not including sundries with minimal impact on our golf course wear and tear while maintaining the exclusivity of the RSF Golf Club to Association members. This concept has been rejected by previous Association boards, majority controlled by golf club members. “But the times, like the economics of golf, they are a changin’.”

Frank Smith

RSF Association member for 30 years

July 4 issue:

Gallagher leads by example

So many opinion pieces are written about an issue or some sort of grievance, I thought it would nice to give a shout-out to someone caught doing the right thing for the right reason: Mike Gallagher, an Association board member who doesn’t believe in entitlements or giving special privileges. He doesn’t lead from above, but by walking beside you and listening to you.

Mike Gallagher and his wife Linda moved to Rancho Santa Fe in 2005. Gallagher was originally appointed to the Association board of directors on Oct. 5, 2017, replacing board member Mike Licasati. Six candidates were vying for the appointment and it took 6 secret ballots votes before a consensus was achieved and Gallagher won the appointment. Gallagher went on to be elected for the next term in July 2018 and is serving a 3-year term.

One of the first committees Gallagher served on was the Osuna Ranch committee as board liaison. Gallagher wanted to get all the committees along with Golf and Tennis Clubs to strategically think about the next 5-10 years. We all embarked on a 5-year strategic plan that was well thought-out with detailed objectives, goals and financials. We now have the What, When, Who and status of How to achieve these goals for the next 5 years. Can’t wait to see the accumulation of all the committees/club’s work on the 5- year strategic plan with detailed objectives rolled up to a published Covenant version for the whole community to review and discuss. (think road map to our community’s future)

At the last board meeting, Gallagher was the only board member to speak out publicly about changing the Shared Cost Agreement for the Golf Club Restaurant to include 2 non-Club members on the oversight. This was a grand move to include representation of the 72% of Association members that don’t have ties to golf /tennis and secure 2 spots on the 6 -person oversight committee on the restaurant’s operations. The goal is to get more Covenant members to eat at the Club Restaurant, so it makes sense to include community members who aren’t Golf or Tennis members. Why? Because the Golf Club’s restaurant had been losing over ½ million dollars annually even thou the existing 442 golf members ate and drank at the Restaurant regularly (approx. ½ of the total use). The Restaurant clearly needed more patrons to thrive. I’m still not sure why the Association didn’t take over the whole restaurant operation, since it had been losing money for years and would have alleviated even more of the Golf members debt. (something about a duplicate job ? or could it be loss of control?) Either way, Gallagher listened to the input from the community and took immediate action and should be thanked for stepping up and thinking big picture. Now, we wait and see if losses decrease with new oversight, new management, a total Restaurant remodel and new branding. Can’t wait to dine at the new improved restaurant!

Lorraine Kent

(24-year covenant member)

July 11 issue:

Clubhouse red ink

The irony about golf’s perennial quest to get the RSF Association to pick up their clubhouse restaurant red ink tab caused me to laugh from the distant bleachers today, not being a member since 1992.

My first RSF Association meeting was in 1975, 44 years ago. I had read the proposed annual budget and wondered why the board of this wealthy community was proposing red ink at the clubhouse restaurant. The clubhouse was then a quaint rustic wooden shack where a few people ate lunch, and “the boys” played gin rummy in the back room. The restaurant’s gross annual sales, as I vaguely recall, was about $300,000, but their cost of food was also about $300,000, and they made no effort to propose to cover the cost of labor, rent, overhead, G&A, etc. Not a word about having a goal of “profit” or even “breaking even.” It seemed rather absurd.

I asked the board or perhaps budget committee about the clubhouse budget. Why plan on losing money? Apparently, I was considered to be a Martian, based on the looks they gave me. I was 35 at the time, 79 today.

In another board meeting in that era one of the board members complained that the $2.75 cost of the hot dog was just too high, as he only wanted to buy and eat half of a hot dog. He was serious.

In the mid 1980s I had a regular editorial column on the inside cover of RSF Review. Clubhouse Red Ink was the topic of one of my editorials.

Albert B. Frowiss, Sr.

Rancho Santa Fe

Oh, Say Can You See?

Every year prior to Independence Day, we put one 8 X 12” American flag at every driveway on our street. Many of those flags, a little faded and dirty, remain in place all year.

This year, we put a new flag on either side of each driveway (approximately 64 flags). Such great feeling of pride in our country and gratitude to our military past and present when driving up and down the street!

Is it acceptable to fly the flag only on certain days? Or, is it a beautiful sight to see and appreciate every day? When kept in good condition, any day is okay to fly the U.S. flag.

Show our love for the USA: Residents on every street in town should fly the American flag— along the driveways or on the houses. We have much to be grateful! Still my (real) favorite horse: “Arewehavingfunyet?”

Brett Dieterich and Nick Dieterich

Rancho Santa Fe

July 25 issue:

Call to action on 5G ordinance

On August 7 the Board of Supervisors will be voting on the Small Cell (5G) Wireless Ordinance and unless you want to have your property values and your health compromised, you need to pick up the phone, write a letter, send an email, or knock on Jim Desmond’s door today. If you know any other supervisors, please get in touch with them. Dianne Jacob is the Chairwoman, and her position on this proposed ordinance is critical.

A new and truly Draconian directive from the FCC is intended to make the 5G rollout faster, easier, and less expensive for the telecom industry. It does so by stripping almost every facet of local control the County had been able to retain. This FCC directive impacts the entire country and has triggered lawsuits from cities throughout the U.S. Many of those cases are consolidated in the 9th and 10th Circuit Courts. The County is showing its support through an amicus brief.

5G is the next generation of wireless, but it is a big, uncertain, and frightening leap forward. 5G uses a millimeter wave instead of a microwave. It is higher frequency, so each wave carries a great deal of data and it does so very quickly which is the beauty of 5G, but it heats tissue and does not travel very far so cell towers must be placed every 3rd to 5th home so these millimeter waves can penetrate the walls of our homes, service the Internet of Things, give us faster downloads of movies and provide surveillance capabilities for the government.

5G small cells will be placed in the County right-of-way, including streetlights. We desperately need some minimum setbacks from the home to protect our residential values and to protect our health.

The zoning staff ordinance gives the 1000’ setback from schools, but zero setback from people’s homes. On July 19 the Planning Commissioners, in spite of threats of litigation from Verizon and AT&T, gave 100’ setbacks from most structures including homes and schools, and told telecom to bring it on with their threats of litigation.

To have cell towers on streetlights outside our homes is a health and property nightmare. There is not a single study suggesting 5G is safe for the long-term or even short-term. It heats tissue, particularly the skin, eyeballs, and testes. The FCC “safety limit” was never intended to protect us against cancer, Alzheimer’s, and birth defects. It focuses solely on shocks, burns, and heatstroke. But the 5G cannot work within the present “safety” guidelines and so the FCC plans to loosen the safety limits. In other words, the allowable radiation will be increased to fit the needs of the technology – all before a single study showing proof of safety. Call Jim Desmond now. We need at least 100’ setbacks from every home, and 1000’from every school, hospital, and fire station. If protecting our community is going to get us sued, I have three words for telecom. Bring it on.

Contact information for Supervisor Jim Desmond: Email: Jim.Desmond@sdcounty.ca.gov; Phone: (619) 531-5555

Susan Foster

U.S. Adviser, Radiation Research Trust (UK)

Honorary Firefighter, San Diego Fire Department

Medical Writer

Rancho Santa Fe


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