RSF Association board approves regulations on lot coverage, roofs

The Rancho Santa Fe Association has been working on updates to the regulatory code for three years.

The Rancho Santa Fe Association is making progress on updating its regulatory code, a project that started nearly three years ago.

The regulatory code helps guide the Art Jury in its review of projects, to ensure that they meet the “high standard of artistic result” described by the Protective Covenant. At a May 14 virtual board meeting, the board approved amendments to regulations on roofs and lot coverage. A third revision, on solar installations, is currently out for 28-day public review.

The amendment to the regulatory code on roofing eliminates pre-approved roof systems and will allow the Art Jury to review roof applications prior to approval, weighing in on color, size or other aesthetic concerns.

The new roof regulation was posted in December 2019 with a 28-day comment period—after the Association incorporated some comments received, the new language was posted for an additional review period through March 5. No additional comments were received.

The new language on lot coverage aims to prevent over-development by changing the regulatory code’s definition of structures that are included in its calculation of lot coverage, which is capped at 20%.

Previously the calculations include only covered roof areas—that does not include tennis courts, swimming pools, walkways and driveways. The approved regulation now includes all areas covered by pools and water features, including, and up to a 4-foot-wide paved pool decking and all areas covered by tennis courts and sports courts in the lot coverage calculation.

Like the roofing regulation, the proposed lot coverage language was posted for comments in December and February and the Association received several comments.

“We had comments from both ends of the spectrum, some that were opposed and some that were strongly in support or wanted to go even further,” said Building Commissioner Maryam Babaki.

The vote to approve the amendment was not unanimous—Director Sharon Ruhnau voted against it as she believed the lot coverage change was originally brought forth as an interim item and she did not see any language about it being expanded to include other areas.

The new regulatory code chapter on solar will establish requirements for solar systems while adhering to new state standards—California is the first state to require solar power on all new homes. The policy addresses the elevations, screening, color and maximum height of ground and roof-mounted solar projects in the Ranch. It first went out for review in December 2019 and was updated due to comments received.

At the meeting, Vice President Mike Gallagher shared his concerns about the 5-foot height limit on ground-mounted solar—he said the limit seemed “arbitrary” and could negatively impact the efficiency of the panels, as well as have the unintended consequence of possibly requiring more panels which would make them more visible.

Per the regulation, where “reasonably possible and without incurring substantial additional expense or significantly reducing the efficiency of the system,” solar energy systems shall be ground-mounted. The regulation provides for a maximum height of six inches above the roof material for systems installed on slanted roofs and mandates screening to block views of systems installed on flat roofs.

In the coming months, Babaki is working to bring forward revisions to the regulatory code chapters on grading and lighting. In June, she will also bring language before the board that the Art Jury will use to make findings on projects.

At the meeting, board members also discussed lit signage in village real estate offices, whether it was an issue of code enforcement or could be further addressed by strengthening the language in the lighting chapter.

President Rick Sapp said he hoped that the Association can work with local realtors to reach an understanding of what the regulations require and find a solution to the Times Square effect of iPads lit up in the windows at night.

“There’s no point in having lit real estate signs at 2 a.m. in the center of town,” Sapp said