Art Jury nomination process extended to Jan. 31

The Residential Design Guidelines are one of three governing documents the Art Jury bases its decisions on.
(Karen Billing)

Board seeks to clarify selection process


The Rancho Santa Fe Association is still seeking an Art Jury replacement for a term that expired in December. Due to some board confusion around how new volunteers are selected to serve on the jury that reviews Covenant architectural and development projects, the deadline for candidates has been extended to Jan. 31.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about the selection process that is ongoing this year,” said RSF Association President Bill Weber at the board’s Jan. 13 meeting. “It seems to me there’s some things that we could do and should do to ameliorate future problems…I do think we need to update and clarify the process because what happened this year was not done as smoothly as it could have been and I think we can do better.”

An update of the structure for future Art Jury selections is expected to be brought back for discussion at the next meeting.

With Art Jury member Ken Markstein’s term set to expire in December 2021, there were seven initial volunteers for the open position, one then withdrew their name. Candidates were then interviewed by a committee that included three board members in November.

At the board’s Dec. 2 meeting, Weber appointed a local real estate developer as the new Art Jury member. RSF Association Vice President Bill Strong objected to the appointment as he said the candidate had brought controversial projects before the Art Jury in the past and he was concerned about the impact the appointment would have on other members of the jury. RSF Association Director Laurel Lemarié also questioned potential conflicts of interest with the appointee.

Following the meeting, Weber rescinded his appointment. A special meeting was called on Dec. 10 to consider potential appointments but no candidate was selected. The deadline for applications was then extended in a board vote. Markstein has agreed to continue to serve until the position is filled.

According to paragraph 55 of the Protective Covenant (last amended in 1973) the Art Jury is to be composed of five members appointed by the president from a list of members nominated by the board. The list must include at least two names in excess of the number of appointments to be made.

The process is very simple in the Covenant and the qualifications are only that the Art Jury candidate is a member of the Association. There is no criteria given on how to create a candidate list.

Board Resolution 2017-111 which has evolved over the years and was last updated in 2013, includes requirements for Art Jury candidates including that they have no pending projects, can demonstrate knowledge of the Protected Covenant and are willing to serve for the required three-year term. It spells out an appointment process in which self-nominations are received by September, interviews held in November with either the board or subcommittee and then appointments are made by the board president in December.

Per the Covenant, if the president has not made an appointment within 90 days of a vacancy, the decision falls to the Art Jury president.

“To the extent that I was involved, it was clumsy,” Weber said. “But for a lot of reasons not relevant now, we’ve extended the search process for additional candidates.”

Attorney Bill Budd said due to the confusion, the “audible” called by the board last month to extend the nomination process was legal. He said the key gap in the resolution is that it is not clear how the list of nominees is accomplished, which is where the board may want to make clarifications or improve the process.

Moving forward, RSF Association Treasurer Rick Sapp suggested that the board modernize the resolution to show what they are looking for in an Art Jury member as a guideline to developing the list. RSF Association Director Lorraine Kent said the selection process should be more equitable for all board members, allowing the full board to decide the list of candidates.

“You could have a subcommittee (to interview candidates) but I don’t know that I want to defer my authority to just three people on the board, I would like it to be a unified board decision,” Kent said.

Strong, who was a member of the interview committee, did not agree with Budd’s defense of what happened. Strong said it appeared to him that there were three valid nominees and he believes that the president does not have the ability to stop the process when there are qualified candidates: “The process cannot be extended indefinitely, that’s claiming new powers by the president.”

Weber again stated that there was no violation of the Covenant with the board’s action to extend the deadline. According to the Association, they did not have the proper number of qualified candidates at the Dec. 10 meeting.

At the Jan. 13 meeting, the board also finally approved the Art Jury Roles and Responsibilities document, in its ninth iteration. The vote was 6-1 with Strong opposed.

The original version adopted last March was prepared by the Art Jury and Association Building Department. Strong and Lemarié then worked throughout the bulk of 2021 on an alternative version but it failed to get approval from fellow board members. In October the board voted to return the drafting to RSF Association Building Commissioner Maryam Babaki with RSF Association Manager Christy Whalen providing oversight.

The document articulates how members should be familiar with, interpret and enforce the regulatory documents; ensure fairness and consistency in Art Jury decisions; and avoid conflicts of interest.

With his vote in opposition to the new document, Strong said it includes “serious misstatements of fact” and eliminated all discussion of the limits of Art Jury discretion. Babaki said she did not know specifically what Strong was referencing: “All that is relevant and appropriate has been included.”

While Strong wanted to continue to discuss the document, other members of the board were ready to move on and vote.