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Letters to the Editor

Letters/Opinion: May, June 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.

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

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.

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.

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