RSF Connect town hall held as community vote continues

It was a packed house at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club for a town hall on the Rancho Santa Fe Association’s fiber-optic project on Sept. 14. The ballots on the $13-14 million project had been out for a few days and some said they had already cast their vote on the network, which will bring one-gigabit internet capabilities to every home in the Covenant.

RSF Association President Fred Wasserman said he was thrilled with the large turnout for what he believes could be a very important project for Rancho Santa Fe.

“We need to have reliable, one-gigabit service in this community,” Wasserman said. “This is not a service that isn’t needed anymore, it’s a utility.”

Wasserman said members are demanding this service to improve their quality of life and said some have even left the community because of poor service. RSF Association Manager Bob Hall said that RSF Connect is for more than just the 13-year-old who is frantic because they can’t do their homework — he said he heard from one resident with an internet-connected implanted medical device that told him: “Without reliable connection to the internet, I will die.”

Every homeowner, including condo owners, gets a vote on the proposal and ballots are due back by Oct. 4 at 5 p.m.

If approved, construction could possibly begin in February 2018, with a 18-24-month build timeline. As segments of the network are completed, service could become available to some homeowners prior to the completion of the entire project. That left many homeowners asking: Who gets it first?

Hall said that the engineers will decide which part of the Ranch will be completed first, although prioritization will be given to county roads with planned street improvements.

“It’s pretty exciting to be involved in a project like this that will impact the future of this community for a very, very long time,” Hall said.

The RSF Association expects to fund the project with $8 million from the Covenant Enhancement Fund and bank financing for the remainder with a 10-year, fixed-rate, fully amortizing loan. There will be no special assessments and no new assessments, Hall said.

While the RSF Association will finance the 65-70-mile long fiber backbone, it’s up to the homeowner to get the fiber to the home. Homeowners will be tied to the network from a “service point” at one of the property lines of their building site. The connection process will involve installing a new conduit from the service point box to the home or extending an existing conduit to the service point. Homeowners will work with the internet service provider selected by the Association or another qualified contractor to install or extend the conduit.

The biggest questions from homeowners at the town hall were around where the service point box will be located on their properties. As the average cost in most cases will be $6.25 per linear foot, residents wanted to know who decides the placement of the boxes as it could make a big difference in their cost.

Hall said the network designers will place the service boxes in locations that will provide the most effective routes to make connections — he said it wouldn’t make sense to lengthen the route in any way.

Other residents said they didn’t care at all where he boxes go, they just want internet service.

“Thank you for bringing us into the 21st century,” said resident Ray Faltinsky He said he has four kids at home who can’t do their homework because they can’t connect and a wife who gets frustrated when they try to watch movies and the stream is constantly getting held up. Faltinsky is also unable to get work done from home. “Please bring this to us as fast as you can.”

Learn more about the project at rsfconnect.com

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