RSF Association update: Golf is back, board election delayed

The Rancho Santa Fe Golf course (above) and RSF Tennis Club courts have been reopened with some restrictions.

The Rancho Santa Fe Association is taking its first steps toward normalcy as members return to the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club for play. On May 1, the county allowed golf courses to reopen with restrictions and RSF Association Manager Christy Whalen said they have been in contact with San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond to understand the guidelines and plan for the safe reopening of the club.

The club is back open for members only with rules for safe play such as social distancing, no-touch pins, no sharing of equipment, temperature checks and golf carts provided on a limited basis depending on need. With recreation rules further loosened on May 8, the Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club also welcomed members back to the court with social distancing, however, the clubhouse remains closed.

With the golf club reopening, the Association has been able to bring back a number of golf services employees from furlough—a total of 45 Association employees were furloughed on April 20.

“They are thrilled to be back at work and we’re thrilled to have them back at work,” Whalen said. “I think we’ve got a happier community now that we’ve got a little bit of ability to recreate and get some exercise both on the golf course, tennis courts and the many trails.”

At the board’s May 14 virtual meeting, Whalen provided an update of the Association’s continuing operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. May is typically the month for the Association’s annual meeting where the community gets a chance to meet candidates running for the board. The election has been postponed to July and there are five candidates for the two available seats including current President Rick Sapp, Ted Butz, Greg Gruzdowich, Paul Seitz and Mike Sperlinga.

The two members with expiring terms, Sapp and Steve Dunn, will continue serving through September.

Like the board, the Art Jury has resumed its meetings on Zoom and is accepting project applications online. The golf club restaurant remains closed but Whalen said one of the” bright shining lights” of the pandemic has been the take-out service, which didn’t exist before. The restaurant is serving up lunch and dinner to all Covenant members and Whalen said it’s possible that take-out services could continue when restaurants are allowed to open.

The Association’s Ranch Clubhouse Committee has met virtually and, due to the uncertainty of the times, determined to postpone the planned restaurant renovations for six months to a year.

The Association’s parks and recreation department has stayed busy as the year’s rains have brought an abundance of growth. The crews continue working on weed abatement along the roadsides and trails and are working with the RSF Fire Protection District to address hazardous trees to prepare for the upcoming fire season.

This month, the fire district is sending out its annual fire abatement notices, which include a new fine schedule.

“Ignoring those abatement notices will result in a fine and if the fines aren’t paid that could result in a lien on the home,” Whalen said. “We want to remind our members that this is serious, it protects our entire community not only your home but our whole community’s homes so please take those abatement notices seriously.”

The RSF Association’s Fire Watch program will also begin its second phase in July—last year the Association teamed up with Fire Watch to acquire aerial photography of every inch of the Ranch so they can see where problem areas are in terms of vegetative fuels. Whalen said phase two will be identifying problem areas to monitor, using aerial remote sensing and image analysis to provide high-level detail on the vegetation type, the distribution of vegetation, the condition of it and the proximity to homes and roads.

The maps are also used by fire district so they can see trends and areas of concerns as well. Each parcel in the Covenant will be given a risk rating that will allow the Association to strategically address some of the hazards in the community. In future phases of Fire Watch, the Association will share information with property owners.

“We think this will be highly valuable to the community as a whole and individual property owners,” said Whalen.

At the May 14 meeting, the board reviewed and approved the 2020-21 budget, which has been revised in light of COVID-19. Chief Financial Officer Seth Goldman said the budget assumes that activities at the restaurant and clubs will be running by July 1. If activities are not possible at that time, revenues and expenses will be lower.

For the board’s fiber-optic network Rancho Santa Fe Connect, the budget assumes 640 households ramping up to 1,000 during 2020-21.

Providing an update, Race Communications CEO Raul Alcarez said that to date, Rancho Santa Fe Connect has 1,006 orders and 482 have been installed.

In March, there was a five-day interruption as they prepared safety protocols for sales and installations during the pandemic. In April, Alcarez said they heard from many residents looking to postpone installation due to the pandemic and there were only 42 sales, however, they still exceeded their monthly target of 80 installations with 86 installs. So far in the first 11 days of May, Alcarez said they already had 36 sales.

“I believe we’re starting to get a little bit more normalcy,” Alcarez said. “The communication has been very good and the technicians and installation crews are definitely prepared and able to go after that 80-plus number of installations.”

Having reliable internet connection during the pandemic has proved to be essential for the RSF community.

“A number of us are relying on Race Communications to conduct this board meeting,” said Sapp. “I’m not sure that would have been possible under my old service.”