RSF Association board rejects proposed cell towers on village building

The Badger Building in Rancho Santa Fe.
(Karen Billing)

The Rancho Santa Fe Association board denied a new 5G wireless facility that would alter the architecture of a village building. Dish Wireless had proposed to install two six-foot antennas hidden inside a pair of faux chimneys atop the Badger Building at the corner of La Granada and La Flecha.

At the RSF Association board’s Aug. 3 meeting, Director Lorraine Kent clarified that the board was not denying Dish the opportunity to install a tower, just not in that location.

“We don’t want random chimneys in our downtown area,” Kent said. “Our downtown is historic and we want to keep that pristine.”

In the motion to deny this application, the board recommended that Dish consider co-location on existing cell towers atop the Santa Fe Irrigation District building on Linea Del Cielo or the RSF Fire Protection District on El Fuego.

The Art Jury had previously approved the application for the new towers in a 2-1 vote with two members absent. In May, the RSF Association board deferred its decision to give the infrastructure committee a chance to weigh in—the committee met in June and voted to deny the application.

Dish is a new wireless provider in San Diego as they have just begun launching 5G networks across the country. Towers have been approved locally in Oceanside, Vista, Encinitas, Solana Beach and in Carmel Valley.

RSF Association Director Phil Trubey said that this is a “lower-tier” provider just entering the San Diego market: “In terms of usefulness, this doesn’t enhance our community at all,” said Trubey, who was also opposed to the aesthetics of the chimneys. “I don’t see any reason why we would allow this.”

Although the Badger is not nationally registered as a historic building, it is a central part of Rancho Santa Fe’s historic district. When the building opened in 1968 it was home to R.E. Badger and Sons, a company that just celebrated 100 years in business.