New rules approved for Osuna Ranch

The entrance to the Rancho Santa Fe Association's Osuna Ranch.
(Karen Billing)

The Rancho Santa Fe Association board approved new rules for the Osuna Ranch, focused on improving the security and safety of borders and visitors.

Maximizing the use of the Association-owned Osuna is one of the board’s top priorities this year, looking into whether there is higher or better use of the property that can benefit a wider majority of Covenant residents while acknowledging its historic and housekeeping value.

There have been no rules in place at the Ranch since the Association purchased the 28-acre property on Via de Santa Fe in 2006 and the new policy sets operating hours for the Ranch and access points. Currently, there are several access points on the property which has created concerns about safety and the staff’s ability to monitor visitors, according to RSF Association Assistant Manager Arnold Keene. The rules aim to direct access through the main gate with one other access point off of Via de la Valle.

Since the new rules were posted for review in December, the board received six written comments, many centered on losing access to the gate that opens to Via de la Valle at night as well as the elimination of the gate that opens onto neighbor Paul Seitz’s adjoining property. During public comment on Feb. 4, members spoke out against closing the access points that were said to have been open for decades.

“To close (the gate) now would seem a really inappropriate move by the board,” said resident Steven Ganzberg.

Ganzberg said locking the gates in the evening would be problematic for people like himself who often take rides at night, under the light of a full moon. As far as preventing access, the only other way for riders to get to the trail would be to take horses down the busy Via de Santa Fe: “It’s a terrible place to be riding horses,” he said.

Seitz agreed, noting that the trail between Osuna Ranch and the road is not complete and forcing riders to come through the main gate with cars and ride past the arena to get to the trail would only add “more chaos.”

“There are a lot of better ways to spend money to make that ranch safer and cleaner,” Seitz said.

As the main concern seemed to be the locking of the gates, RSF Association Director Rick Sapp proposed that the board approve the policy so the Association would finally have rules on the books while not eliminating access at the Seitz boundary and installing horse-friendly gates at both access points. He suggested that the board have a later discussion to understand the policy and circumstances in which the gates would need to be locked at night.

“I’m hopeful that the equestrians who have been vocal on this feel good about the process and that we did listen to them,” RSF Association President Mike Gallagher said. “This is something that requires everyone to follow the rules because the reason the gate will be locked in the future is because people have abused the rights.”

The new rules also state that dogs must be leashed at all times on the property and outline that the barns, structures, paddocks and turn-out pastures are designated for the use of the horse-training facility only. Members will be able to pre-arrange a visit to the horse training part of the ranch with the facility manager.

To implement the policy, the Association will need to install fencing along the Ranch’s western perimeter and the new gates. At this time, there is no cost associated with the gates or fencing improvements. RSF Association Director Laurel Lemarie said she has heard member concerns about the cost. RSF Association Director Greg Gruzdowich said if the fencing required was primarily for the security of the horses, he suggested the cost be passed along to the borders at the ranch.

“One of the goals we have is ‘What are we going to do with Osuna?’” Gruzdowich said. “I would hate to be pouring money into Osuna now if we’re going to change the use of it potentially in the next year or two or three.”