Part 2: Year in review for Rancho Santa Fe

Below is a recap of notable actions/events that took place in Rancho Santa Fe in the last six months of 2016.


New restaurant Cesar opens in Del Rayo Village.

Fred Wasserman was named the new president of the RSF Association board, Ken Markstein was elected vice president and Janet Danola was elected treasurer. After the July 7 meeting, director Ann Boon resigned. She had been serving on the board since June 2011.

With the new RSF Association board seated, the 25 sponsored memberships at the RSF Tennis Club was approved. The vote was 5-1, with Mike Licosati voting against it.

The RSF School District officially welcomed David Jaffe as its new superintendent on July 14. Jaffe comes to the RSF district from Torrey Pines High School, where he was principal for the last three years. In his 20 years of education experience, Jaffe has served as an assistant principal at Diegueno Middle School and La Costa Canyon High, the founding principal at Canyon Crest Academy and San Dieguito Union High School District’s executive director of curriculum and instruction.

The board approved a five-month agreement with departing Superintendent Lindy Delaney to act as a special advisor to Jaffe.

A “Keep our Palms” town hall meeting was held July 20 at Morgan Run as some residents rallied to convince the Whispering Palms Community Services District not to take down the 54 “iconic” palm trees that mark the entrance to their neighborhood.

The Community Services District (CSD) had previously approved a plan to remove “aging and diseased” palms along Cancha de Golf, replacing the 40-65-foot-high queen palms with a revamped landscaping plan that includes 15-16-foot king palms.

“They are an iconic part of our community and it’s important that these trees last a long time,” said board member Bill Haynor. “If a few trees are diseased, remove those. But we don’t have to remove 54 trees.”

San Diego City Council approved a new 28-year lease for Surf Cup Sports on the polo field property. Surf Soccer has said there will not be an intensification of use and committed to complete a major restoration and improvements to the Coast to Crest Trail along the property, as well as add a new equestrian arena and staging area. Surf also agreed to employ professional traffic management staff, change the on-property traffic flow and parking plan to alleviate local street traffic and adhere to the strict number of events allowed per year.


Ponsaty’s opens in the village, specializing in classical French and Spanish cuisine in the space formerly held by Delicias. John Matty Co. in the village closes its doors.

Rick Sapp was appointed to the RSF Association board to fill Ann Boon’s seat. A partner of Goldman Sachs for over 20 years, Sapp has spent nine years with the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation and also served on the Association’s finance and governance committees.

After nearly a year’s worth of work and 13 revisions, the Association’s revision of the bylaws were sent to homeowners for approval on Aug. 24.

The Whispering Palms CSD board bent to community pressure and decided to delay their vote on a $339,000 bid to remove the 54 queen palm trees that mark the community’s entry and replace them with new king palms and refreshed landscaping. One-hundred residents had signed a petition to keep the palms.

RSF Association Building Commissioner Robert Green retires after 19 years. As building commissioner he guided the Art July/CDRC process and in the last 16 years, there have been only three appeals to the board and none since 2003.

“I am extremely honored to have served this great community for 19 years and I am sorry to go. I came to work here because I thought Rancho Santa Fe was the best community in the country and I have not changed my opinion on that,” Green said.

A group called the Past Presidents Council alleged “serious financial and managerial issues” have occurred at the Association and requested the board take action to correct the issues, including engaging an independent forensic audit firm to begin review of all accounting transactions.

RSF Association President Fred Wasserman said that an active investigation was already ongoing by board members on issues similar to the ones the PPC had alleged.

“There are some issues, we agree. But I’m telling you that you have more commitment than you have ever had in the past in terms of this group here,” Wasserman said. “You have our commitment, you have our attention and you have our interest.”

At the Sept. 1 meeting, Treasurer Janet Danola said she had been “ticking off all of the financial issues raised in the letter one at a time” as her schedule permits.

“As a representative of the Past Presidents Council I want to thank you and the board for dealing with our questions,” said resident Marie Addario. “We appreciate the time spent and we really appreciate this cooperation

Several local residents competed in the Rio Olympics. Torrey Pines alum JJ Javelet competed on the first Olympic women’s rugby team and Torrey Pines alum Kerry Simmonds won gold with the USA women’s eight rowing team.

Eduardo Menezes, world class equestrian and owner of Rancho Santa Fe’s E2 Stables, competed for his native Brazil in the Rio Olympics. Team Brazil finished in fourth place in the team jumping competition.


Kern & Company opens in the village, replacing the vacancy left by John Matty Co.

The RSF School District board voted to move forward on preparing a mitigated negative declaration for its parking lot plan, paving the current dirt teacher parking lot on the Dacus property on El Fuego with an option to install solar panels on the lot’s canopies.

A mitigated negative declaration (MND) could be completed for the project instead of a full environmental impact report (EIR), certifying that no significant environmental impacts have been determined.

Three board members resigned from the Whispering Palms CSD, leaving the board without a quorum until after the November election when incumbent Kathy McHenry was re-elected with new board members Douglas Manatt and Byron Hanchett.


The RSF Association decided to terminate its letter of intent with Hotwire Communications to build the $13.5 million fiber-to-home network. In executive sessions, the Association board, the finance committee and the technology committee came to the unanimous conclusion that the terms of the current letter of intent with Hotwire are “not satisfactory.”

“That gives us the option to look at other alternatives,” RSF Association President Fred Wasserman said. “We are moving ahead with a fiber-optic project here, we are going to do it right, we’re going to do it carefully and we’re going to bring it on budget. This is a very important item for this community.”

The RSF Association voters passed the revisions to the bylaws, with 704 members voting in favor of the changes and 226 voting against. A total of 932 ballots were received; two were void for being left blank or casting both a yes and no vote. By comparison, in the June board of directors’ election, there was a record-high 1,694 votes cast.

R. Roger Rowe Middle School is the top performing middle school in San Diego County and the 10th best school in the state, according to the results of the Standard Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests.

The Covenant Design Review Committee (CDRC) unanimously recommended approval of the proposed new Gateway project in the Rancho Santa Fe village. The two-story, 27,017-square- foot building would replace the existing gas station with a market, office and retail, courtyards and open space.

“It fits into the community and provides us with something that we lost,” CDRC member Bill Cardon said. “We have a market. And if it’s supported by the community it will be there forever.”

The project has yet to be approved by the RSF Association.


Two incumbents and one newcomer were elected to the RSF School board in a hotly contested election of seven candidates for three seats. Tyler Seltzer received 23.24 percent of the vote, followed by parent Sarah Neal with 19.61 percent and incumbent Scott Kahn with 16.21 percent of the vote.

The Solana Beach School District passed a $105 million general obligation bond. Measure JJ will replace or upgrade outdated classrooms, science labs, libraries and school buildings; restore deteriorating roofs, plumbing and electrical systems; improve student safety and campus security; and provide students access to educational facilities, science and technology needed to prepare for high school, college and careers.

Celebrate Arroyo was held on Nov. 19 at the Association-owned open space.


To help deal with parking issues in the village, the RSF Association board approved plans for new angled parking spaces in the village on El Tordo and La Gracia. The new angled spaces will be in coordination with the expansion of two-hour parking zones in the village, a total of 42 timed spaces.

Todd Frank was elected RSF School board president.

A Covenant technology survey revealed that 63 percent of respondents said they are not satisfied with the internet speeds in the Ranch, however, 88 percent are interested in improved internet service.

“I feel very let down by the RSF Association,” read one survey comment. “It has taken them forever to get their act together and bring us high-speed internet services and here we are still at the survey stage.”