Letters to the Editor/Opinion July, August, September, October 2020
July 16 issue:
The importance (and reward) of being a school board trustee
Somewhere amidst all the social turmoil and ongoing pandemic, the basic needs around educating our children needs to be kept front and center. As the current school board president, but more importantly as a parent of two children that have benefited from attending R. Roger Rowe for the last nine years, I appreciate firsthand what a truly special environment our school provides our children and for our community. And I appreciate the importance of the upcoming election to fill the three board seats to be (re-)elected with individuals committed to preserving and extending the excellence of our district!
The impact of a school board trustee can be long lasting, and in ways completely unforeseen. A previous board took the initiative to rebuild school facilities a decade ago, and it is the spacious and modern facilities that have supported the development of plans to re-open the school while abiding by all health safety guidelines provided by the county and by the state. Our children need the social fabric of the community’s school, and we all are benefiting from the work of the school board a decade past.
I believe that there are many challenges ahead in continuing to push the school district towards excellence; this will require five elected trustees to come together as a board to provide governance. The upcoming general election in November needs candidates for the school board, and interested individuals can register their intent to run at the San Diego County Registrar during the filing period between July 13 through Aug. 7, 2020 (detailed instructions can be found at www.sdvote.com/content/rov/en/candidates-campaigns/filing.html).
The children of R Roger Rowe require and deserve a knowledgeable and motivated board of trustees. The school board, in conjunction with administrators and staff, teachers, and the RSF Education Foundation, provides an essential element of the district that benefits from a constant influx of knowledge and enthusiasm through the (re-)election process. Board members are elected to a four-year term. As a retiring member of the board of trustees I feel a responsibility to inform my community on the importance of volunteering and would urge community members to register your candidacy and to proudly serve on the board if elected. It has been a rewarding experience for me individually, and one that I want to openly invite others to experience firsthand! Be part of the solution!
Scott D Kahn, PhD
RSF School board president
Support the proposed amendment to allow The Village Church to build a columbarium
I am writing today to ask for the support of Rancho Santa Fe residents in helping The Village Church continue and expand its tradition of service within our community as we vote on the proposed amendment to our Covenant that would allow us to build a columbarium.
For 64 years, the Village Church has sought to be a valued and valuable institution in our special town. We offer spiritual education, guidance, and support to all, regardless of whether they are official members or not. Our church campus often serves as a meeting place for community groups and events. It is our privilege to provide worship services to mark the significant events of life, including weddings and funerals. We have grown along with the community and hope to continue this role for years to come.
As part of this growth we hope to build a columbarium within the church campus itself. Since churches began to build structures to support their ministries (as early as the 3rd century) they have also provided burial places to honor and remember their dead. We wish to continue this form of service to our entire community. Rancho Santa Fe is rightly proud of its history, and part of that history includes remembering those who have come before us.
The columbarium will be entirely contained within church walls and invisible from outside. It will be a garden where people can reflect and pray. The outward appearance (from within the garden itself) will be nothing more than several low walls with simple name and date plaques attached to niches where cremains are kept. It is not a crematorium – a place where human remains are incinerated. It will allow families to have a place within the same community where they have lived where they can celebrate their loved ones’ lives. The profit from this enterprise will be entirely spiritual.
I believe the original intent of the Covenant was to prohibit large and publicly intrusive structures – which is what columbariums usually were in the 1920s. Nor did residents want to live adjacent to a field of headstones. What we propose is entirely different.
What we need now is for every member of our beloved community to vote in favor of the proposed modification. A super-majority vote is required, meaning that everyone needs to vote. Some who vote will do so from personal interest, others because of your commitment to the broader good. In any case, your favorable vote will do nothing but add to the many wonderful and meaningful aspects of life within our community and the rich legacy that we leave behind for future generations.
The Rev. Dr. Jack W. Baca,
Art Jury members uphold RSF Covenant
Our Art Jury members put a lot of time and effort into gathering the simple facts and integrating those facts into their decisions as they uphold our Rancho Santa Fe Covenant.
To have the board step in and usurp that those decisions degrades the Art Jury’s function.
The board interfering only makes upholding our Covenant more difficult.
Every landowner signs or has signed saying they will follow our Covenant. However, there has to be guardians at the gate to give our Covenants value and adherence.
As to the landowner’s advocate, in the Art Jury’s domain, it is the landowner’s hired architect that is their advocate not our board. Our board’s job is to support the Art Jury as Art Jury members work to uphold our Rancho Santa Fe covenants.
It is imperative that the the board and the Art Jury remain separate entities with separate powers.
Someone has to be given the right to draw “lines in the sand” in order for our Covenant to be upheld. Which is wisely what our founders realized when they wrote our Rancho Santa Fe Covenant.
The Art Jury decisions at times do not please everyone which can make being an Art Jury member uncomfortable at times. However, their single duty to protect and uphold our Covenant is the basis for what Rancho Santa Fe has grown to be.
The job of the Art Jury members is simply to see that those who signed that they will support the Rancho Santa Fe Protective Covenant adhere to that commitment.
Most sincerely and respectively,
A previous Art Jury member
and a RSF resident since the early ’70s
July 23 issue:
Your vote is important
This year, members of our Covenant have the opportunity to vote on two important issues governing our future. One, of course, is the election of two directors for the RSF Association Board of Directors. The second is to approve an amendment to the Protective Covenant.
Your vote is important on both issues, but we’d like to briefly address the Covenant Amendment.
The original Protective Covenant was written more than 90 years ago and has served us well by preserving the rural nature and architectural styles that characterize our community. While the original document expressly prohibits columbaria within the Covenant, we think the intent was to prohibit the large structures that typified columbaria at that time. Those would be in stark contrast with the iconic architectural personality of this community. The prohibition of columbaria is, thus, an anachronism relating back to a much earlier time. And, although the Protective Covenant was intended to endure, the drafters clearly recognized that there needed to be provisions for change – with the times – and structured the Protective Covenant accordingly.
We are voting to approve the Covenant amendment. Here’s why:
• The amendment would allow columbaria within the Covenant – but only on the two properties that are zoned Class J – Religious Edifices. Note that it does not specifically approve the construction of a columbarium of any design.
• Prior to construction, a proposed columbarium will have to gain the approval of the Art Jury and would necessarily conform to the design criteria established for our community.
• Like many of our friends and neighbors, Rancho Santa Fe has become our home in a much deeper sense than just a physical structure or a P.O. box number. It is where we live, love, laugh, and, occasionally, lament. It seems a shame not to accommodate those members who wish to be memorialized and interred here.
• A columbarium on church property can be a beautiful, unobtrusive, and fitting final resting place for those who might wish it.
Bottom line: please vote. It’s not only your right, it’s your responsibility.
Bill and Sue Weber
Rancho Santa Fe
July 30 issue:
Leadership begins at home
On July 24 I was driving through our RSF Village and saw several of our young middle school students standing in the street holding Black Lives Matter signs. Later in the day the two volunteers selling Trump hats and T-shirts, in addition to interested patrons, were targeted by several adults and students. They were bullied, called racist, and harassed to the point that they felt they had to leave the area.
As a veteran educator it saddens me that discourse has disappeared from our country. How many of you engage your children in political discussions and, if so, how many of you in these discussions focus on facts rather than emotions. The presentation and evaluation of facts are the basis for critical thinking.
Unfortunately every day in today’s world we are witnessing the hurtful, demeaning, and excessive use of our right to free speech and I hope you are teaching your children that no person, not a single one, should be the victim of bullying. Your children must be taught that the verbal or physical harassment of others is at all times inappropriate and unacceptable. There are constructive ways to communicate and this would be an excellent topic for discussion at your dinner table.
I would suggest that most of us living here in RSF have no idea of the day-to-day challenges experienced by African Americans in America. Education is a key factor and unfortunately many of the public schools that African American children attend are far below standard. For poor and minority youngsters, a good education is their best opportunity for a better life. Tragically, they often miss out on this opportunity. We are fortunate that our children here in the Ranch attend good schools and hopefully as families, we instill in our children the values of hard work, honesty, courtesy, loyalty, respect for elders, and critical thinking. These values are not innate. They must be taught and as parents we must model these values day after day, year after year. As our children grow and develop they must understand that a good life comes with responsibilities, intelligent decision making, and compassion.
I would suggest that we want our children to be thoughtful leaders. We do not want them blindly to follow the mob. It is never too late to reevaluate our priorities. Each of us, without exception, makes mistakes but the ways in which we correct our mistakes are crucial life lessons for our children. They look to us for leadership and leadership begins at home.
Rancho Santa Fe
Aug. 6 issue:
Sincere thank you to the RSF community from family of ‘Dan the Barber Man’
The family of Dan Lara, or also known as “Dan the Barber Man”, would like to sincerely say “Thank You” for the last 40-plus years of service, community and friendship. He truly enjoyed cutting the hair of generations of families that he came to know and love. Watching your families grow, and building relationships, was the best part of his job. He took great pride in the business he grew and fostered within a community he loved and respected.
Thank you for every kindness you showed him. Our father loved being a part of your lives and the community over so many years. He loved his job and we know how much he will miss seeing everyone, getting coffee at Positano and treats at Thyme in the Ranch.
Thank you to the community of Rancho Santa Fe.
The Lara and Gray families
RSF Fire Protection District: Sky lanterns pose fire risk
Over the last few years, sky lanterns have become increasingly popular at weddings and other celebratory events. These lanterns act like hot air balloons utilizing the heat produced from an open flame to rise into the night sky. The more lanterns that are flown, the greater the affect.
Unfortunately, sky lanterns pose a serious fire risk. The paper used to make the lantern can easily ignite, causing the lantern to fall from the sky and burn whatever it lands on. Last week, a Rancho Santa Fe resident found two burnt sky lanterns had landed in their backyard. One lantern landed in a landscaped area, which helped to minimize the threat, but the other landed in an open area with weeds and natural vegetation.
“We are very fortunate that the weather worked in our favor that day,” said Battalion Chief Dave Livingstone. “If it had been just a little hotter and a little drier the lanterns could have caused a serious problem. Sky lanterns, like fireworks, are illegal in San Diego County.”
It would not have been the first time such lanterns caused a fire. According to The Press Democrat, in 2016, the roofs of two homes in Santa Rosa, Calif., caught fire when lanterns landed on them. Sky lanterns were also suspected of causing a fire at a zoo in Germany on Jan. 1 of this year, killing 30 animals.
“If you see sky lanterns or other types of fireworks being used, please call 911 and report it,” encouraged Livingstone. “Individuals that use them could be held responsible for any damage they may cause. They may be pretty to look at, but they are just not worth the risk.” — Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District news release
There should be two options in every school
I am appalled by San Dieguito Union High School District’s decision to follow the lead of other districts in the state in not opposing Governor Newsom’s school closure order and starting the school year in a full distance learning mode. This is a decision based on politics and fear-mongering. There should be two options in every school--full distance and full in-person. If families do not want to send their children to school, then they can choose full distance. They should not, however, be allowed to dictate what all families do. Additionally, many of the families in support of distance learning are also hiring teachers and tutors to teach small groups of children. How is this right if it is so dangerous for children to be together?
I am disappointed that affluent families will be widening the achievement gap because they can afford to create micro-schools for their children. As long as families who are willing and able to pay for private tutoring can mitigate the damage that distance learning does, there will be little reason for politicians to push for schools to reopen.
Aug. 20 issue:
Art Jury lighting proposal
I want to thank the RSF Post and the RSF Review for alerting me to the Art Jury’s proposed lighting regulations:
14.0404.02 Uplighting. Uplighting is generally prohibited. However, limited uplighting to a maximum of 5 lights may be approved by the Art Jury for specimen trees, or under the water in fountains, or in a courtyard, if each of the lights protect the “dark sky” nature of the Covenant by not exceeding 500 lumens per fixture and by being completely shielded from the sky by the illuminated item or wall. Address markers per 14.0506 may also be uplights if completely shielded from the sky by a wall, pillar, rock, or other solid object.
I think it would be unwise for the Art Jury to allow five uplights per residence. At first glance it doesn’t sound too bad, but stop to think of every house in RSF projecting five lights into our night sky. Yes, the proposal does say that the light must be blocked from the sky by the lighted object but we all know that doesn’t work with a tree. I know of one house on Avenida de Acacias which currently has a number of uplights in their landscaping. Their trees are lovely and the effect is very dramatic…in fact, it looks like a movie set. It’s also very bright and if every property in RSF follows suit we are going to look like Beverly Hills. (I don’t know why this property is allowed to have all of these lights…perhaps they have a variance of some sort.) Courtyard walls will not stop the light pollution. Although the proposal calls for a maximum of 500 lumens per fixture, I don’t see how the Association can control that. I’ve seen another residence with two brightly illuminated palm trees. Again, it was very dramatic but if drama is what you desire, perhaps RSF is not the place to look for it.
This is the town that doesn’t want stoplights…how can the Art Jury suggest 5 uplights per property?
Please think about the town you want to live in and promptly register your opinion with our Association board before this regulation is passed.
Rancho Santa Fe
Trump booth in RSF
I feel compelled to make it known that I was completely horrified when I first pulled into town today (Aug. 13). I am on a mini-vacation from Santa Monica and decided to visit a place I’ve never been, even though I am a California native. I had heard how beautiful and serene Rancho Santa Fe is so I booked a room for four nights at the Inn.
It’s a lovely drive up the hill and the surrounding area is breathtaking. I was so excited to arrive at my serene destination and unwind for a few days. I was so saddened when the first thing I saw when I walked into the little town was the brash and hateful Trump booth--flags waving and guns emblazoned on banners. I wanted to scream. I grabbed the local paper and read the article about this booth. I wonder truly if this is the welcome you want to extend to visitors? A message of hate and violence? If that booth is there tomorrow I’m checking out early. So sad. What a disappointing vacation.
Marina del Rey, Calif.
Aug. 27 issue:
Free speech a right for all citizens
I respond to Stephanie Blank’s letter to the editor (“Trump booth in RSF”) in the Aug. 20 RSF Review issue.
Although I have hardly ever taken the time to write to a newspaper, this born and raised Southern California citizen could not resist a reply.
It seems Stephanie has been away from her Radical Left Flock too long and stumbled into a community that understands history, the constitution, free speech, and the traits of freedom for all citizens. I’m sure a Biden booth would not have triggered her “angry” bone. Her local Marina Del Rey paper endorsed Maxine Waters…enough said.
Her intolerance and hate of others’ free speech and right to assemble ruined her time away from her enclave. I have found [most] liberals hate to see others, contrary to their beliefs, express the rights passed down from our founding principles and those that have fought, sacrificed, and died for them.
Perhaps your next “escape” from Marina Del Rey should be somewhere you are more at home… such as San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Chicago or New York.
Just don’t stay out after it gets dark, your brethren are not so hospitable.
Rancho Santa Fe
Sept. 17 issue:
Shout out to Brad Shupe, Chris Sarten, and staff at the RSF Golf Club for their assistance in recognizing our Rancho Santa Fe Fire Department, Patrol and dispatchers on 9/11 and every day! We are grateful for these emergency workers.
Rancho Santa Fe
Oct. 15 issue:
Is that a canned good in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
I am writing to send a note of gratitude into the Rancho Santa Fe air.
My family moved to RSF three years ago. We have found Rancho Santa Fe to be a warm and welcoming place to live, with a bounty of wonderful, caring, and kind people and an exceptional local public school.
The Rancho Santa Fe vibes have been good…until the last few months. The partisan animosity created by the looming election has made me avoid spending time in or even driving through the downtown village.
But I decided that avoiding the core of RSF Village was not the way to be a good member of society, so I grabbed a tent, tables, posterboard and markers, and a friend who also lives in RSF and is also tired of the bickering.
We found one of the many excellent, local non-profits to support with a Food and Fund drive, made a fundraising goal, had the kids make posters, put on our masks, and set up our tent on this past sunny Saturday morning. We used streamers and chairs to ensure everyone was at least six feet apart.
Our socially-distanced fundraiser for Feeding San Diego turned out to be just what I needed. We cheered the passing classic cars and received many a friendly honk in return. We waved at people walking by and were rewarded with smiles and waves and words of encouragement. The best bounty of all was the generosity. The people walking by donated almost $500 over the course of the morning. Our friends dropped by bags of canned food and donations. One kind man went home and returned with a trunkful of canned food.
My high school daughter and I were able to drive down to Feeding San Diego’s distribution center after her online schooling yesterday and deliver the donated food and money.
Do not doubt the hearts of your RSF friends and neighbors, just reach out for the positivity you need and they will come through for you. They did for me this past Saturday morning.
With regards and gratitude,
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