Rancho Santa Fe Association board approves resolution on easements

The Rancho Santa Fe Association board passed a resolution regarding easements at its Dec. 14 meeting, to fix an issue that had been brought to the board’s attention by staff.

RSF Association President Fred Wasserman said that about 12 years ago, a member of the then-Art Jury decided that if someone who resides on a private road wanted to build a new house or make improvements they had to get approval from all the residents on that road. It became Covenant Design Review Committee policy even though they did not really have the authority to do so, he said. The rule extended to include not just common roads but driveways, and all parties had to sign off before the Association issued a building permit.

The policy impacted about 300 properties in the Covenant that are on private roads and driveways.

Wasserman said they have heard of people charging new residents a fee for signing off on construction projects as well as the threat of potential lawsuits against the Association.

“It was quite clear that this policy was being used quite maliciously,” said Director Allen Finkelson.

Finkelson said if residents have an issue, they have personal access to the courts to resolve it but the Association is not going to be the one to settle disputes.

The resolution, posted for 30 days, states:

“The granting of a project approval and issuance of a construction permit by the Rancho Santa Fe Association is not an opinion as to the validity or scope of any rights that the applicant may (or may not) possesses to use or improve an easement that may affect the applicant’s property, and the Association does not render an opinion or provide any interpretation of the terms or conditions of such easement.”

Driveways, roads, retaining walls, fences, walls, and other structures and improvements that are built on those easement areas are “at applicant’s own risk,” the resolution reads.

“The Association disclaims any liability or responsibility for such improvements. If it is determined that the applicant does not have the right to use or improve the easement, the applicant may be required to move or remove structures or improvements located within the easement.”

Per the resolution, the Association will provide notice to each party to an easement following a project’s approval and issuance of a construction permit.

At the board’s previous Dec. 7 meeting, one resident thanked the board for recognizing the significance of the issue. He said he wasn’t able to develop his property due to the existing protocol.

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