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Part 1: 2017 Rancho Santa Fe Year in Review

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The RSF Association approved a $50,000 forest health study last February to address the issue of dead and diseased trees in the Ranch.
(Courtesy)

Below is Part 1 of the 2017 Rancho Santa Fe Year in Review, which covers the first six months of the year. Look for Part 2, which covers the last six months of the year, in next week’s issue (Jan. 4, 2018).

January

- About 70 community volunteers gathered for “Plant Our Future,” planting 35 native trees at the Osuna Ranch.

- Customers in the Santa Fe Irrigation District see a 9 percent increase in their water bills.

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- The Bando Group assumed ownership of The Crosby Club on Jan. 30. Over the last few years, the Crosby went through bankruptcy and litigation between the club and the homeowners association before it was sold at public auction to Bando, an international company based in South Korea that has nearly 40 years of experience in golf and construction. Immediately after purchase, the renovations began, including $1 million in golf course improvements, an expanded dining deck and renovations to the Grill Room.

- The Rancho Santa Fe School District board put the brakes on paving the parking lot on the adjacent Dacus property after seeing the estimated price of $325,000. The 51-space lot on El Fuego is currently unpaved and is used for staff and overflow parking.

-San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a 12.5 percent raise for themselves on Jan. 10, a salary increase of more than $19,000 a year.

- San Dieguito Union High School District selected Eric Dill as the new superintendent with trustees Mo Muir and John Salazar voting against the appointment.

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“I feel Mr. Dill is highly qualified for this position. He’s served in this district for over 15 years and he’s done an excellent job stepping in as interim superintendent for the past six months,” said SDUHSD President Amy Herman.

-The Whispering Palms Community Services District goes back to “square one” on its plans to refresh the community’s landscaping and entrance. The old plan, to remove and replace 54 palm trees, is no longer in play.

February

- The RSF Association approves a $50,000 forest health study to address the issue of dead and diseased trees in the Ranch. The Rancho Santa Fe Foundation contributed $20,000 toward the study.

- A reception was held to honor longtime RSF School District Superintendent Lindy Delaney, who retired in 2016 after spending 30 years with the district as a teacher, coach and administrator. A Legacy Fund was established in her name at the RSF School Endowment Fund.

- The RSF Association hired Bob Hall as the new manager out of over 150 resumes received. Hall was the city manager for Fountain Valley in Orange County and has worked in public service for more than 28 years. In December, Hall retired and Christy Whalen was named the new RSF Association manager.

March

- The Santa Fe Irrigation District lifts drought restrictions after one the wettest winters in California in years.

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- The San Diego County Board of Supervisors banned medical and non-medical marijuana facilities within the unincorporated areas of the county in a 3-2 vote. Supervisor Kristin Gaspar proposed the ban in January in the interest of public safety in an “uncertain environment.”

“We have ever-growing demands on law enforcement, we have ever-growing demands on our budget. In my personal view, San Diego really can’t afford the unintended consequences on the horizon related to recreational marijuana,” Gaspar said. “We can’t afford at this time to intensify the situation and we have an obligation to keep our communities safe and fiscally sound.”

Supervisors Greg Cox and Ron Roberts voted against the ban.

- The RSF Association approved the RSF Tennis Club’s new governing documents—the first time the club ever had a resolution establishing it as an independent body. Director Mike Licosati voted against the documents as he believed that the RSF Tennis Club’s guest policy is unfair and inconsistent with the RSF Golf Club’s guest policy.

- The Santa Fe Irrigation District gave a 5.6 percent pay raise to General Manager Michael Bardin, the first time his salary had been adjusted since 2014. Director Marlene King voted against the raise, which increased to $225,000 a year.

April

- Story poles went up on the vacant lot on the corner of La Granada and El Tordo as a new RSF Pharmacy is considered.

- The RSF Association approved a $168,832 expenditure for an engineering design study for RSF Connect, the speed internet service project.

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- Landrock Development presented a scaled-down version of the Gateway mixed-use project in the village, without a market, after facing some challenges in its agreement with the RSF Association. The Gateway aims to bring a new commercial development to the village and replace the existing gas station. The Association remained committed to working with the developers toward a solution and announced in May that it reached an agreement in its negotiations as the Association worked toward a June board meeting for project approval.

- The RSF Association formed an ad-hoc committee on rising water rates. Greg Gruzdowich, who served on the Santa Fe Irrigation District for four years until his term ended in December 2016, chairs the committee. In 2016, the Irrigation District approved a three-year rate plan that called for higher customer rates, designed to increase district revenue by 9 percent per year for each of the three years.

Gruzdowich has said that the math used to calculate the rate structure is flawed because it lumps together the larger water users in Rancho Santa Fe with those who use less water on the west side of the district. Larger water users are subsidizing the costs of those who use less water and paying more than their fair share, according to Gruzdowich.

“We’re bearing a much larger share of the burden than other communities served by the Santa Fe Irrigation,” RSF Association President Fred Wasserman said.

May

- Concerns are raised about the upcoming Association election as the last round of bylaw changes increased the quorum required. RSF Association urges residents to vote even though the election is uncontested.

- The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club hired Andrew Scott as the new general manager, replacing Al Castro. Scott had been serving as the general manager of the Moraga Country Club in the Bay Area since 2015 and was previously the general manager for the Crosby National Golf Club from 2010-14.

- Tragedy struck the Torrey Pines High School campus when a 15-year-old student was fatally shot by police officers in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 6, after brandishing an air soft pistol. The student had a suicide note in his pocket.

- The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe become a member of the Tribute Portfolio brand of Marriott International. In addition to joining the luxury brand, the restaurant Morada underwent a remodel.

The Inn will also renovate the Inn’s 21 Garden Cottages, built in 2003 and not touched by the major renovations of 2012—the renovations should be complete by early 2018.

- On May 30, Leighton Dorey III was brutally murdered in his Rancho Santa Fe home. The victim’s son, Leighton Dorey IV, pled not guilty to chargers of first-degree murder with a special allegation of torture.

June

- Rick Sapp and Stephen Dunn were elected to the Rancho Santa Fe Association board. The Association received over 1,100 total ballots and met its required quorum. The latest round of bylaw revisions also passed, which will correct the quorum issue moving forward.

- Celebrate Osuna returns for its second year, bringing the community together at the Osuna Ranch.

- The RSF Association board votes to send the $13 million RSF Connect fiber optic project to a community-wide vote rather than a conventional vote. In the vote, every Covenant property received one vote, including condo owners that do not have voting privileges in conventional elections.

-The RSF Association board approves the Gateway project in a 5-2 with Allen Finkelson and Janet Danola opposed. The two-story, 27,017 square feet Gateway project will include three levels of underground parking with 138 full-size spaces, 48 spaces over what the project would be required.

Director Finkelson and Danola’s opposition to the project centered on the agreement the board struck with Landrock, that it does not include a guarantee that a market will fill the space. The Association had requested that the project include a deed-restriction that a market be provided in perpetuity.

Landrock had been at work on the development for over five years — when the project first started it was just an office building with limited parking and open space. Now it includes office and retail, a parking garage, a revitalization of the village’s entry gateway with a landscaped open space plaza, and plans for a 5,000-square-foot market.

“I think all of the input we’ve received has resulted in a project that the whole community can be proud of,” said Fernando Landa, part of the Landrock development team that includes his father Enrique. “We are confident that the community will support the market and make it a success.”

-Torrey Pines High School made national news with allegations of pay to play and other violations of district policies and state law on its baseball team. In June, after an independent investigation by the Sobel Group, the San Dieguito Union High School District sent a response to the complainant that outlined that there was no pay to play in the baseball program but there were instances were district policies were not followed. An appeal was filed to the California Department of Education, who in August reported no evidence of pay to play.

-San Dieguito Union High School parents of special education students hand over a petition demanding special education reform, alleging unequal treatment and facilities for special education students. Parents were particularly upset about the placement of the Adult Transition Program (ATP) being housed in portables on the Earl Warren campus.

-The Santa Fe Irrigation District approves its budget which includes a rate increase of about 12 percent that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

-The Solana Beach School District breaks ground on the new Skyline School in Solana Beach, the first big project from the Measure JJ school bonds. In 2017, they would complete modernization work at Solana Highlands Elementary School, cut the ribbon on a solar project at Solana Pacific and begin installation of a new shade structure at Solana Santa Fe. In 2018, the district plans to begin work planning on the modernization of Solana Santa Fe Elementary School.


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