Opinion/Letters to the Editor April 2021

(Courtesy photo)

April 1 issue:

My view of ‘Big Picture’ RSF Association Art Jury objectives

The following are high-level RSF Association objectives important to me, as an Association member, and as a board member:

1) Retaining our architectural authority.

2) Retaining our rural ambiance. PC 126 (% of Lot Occupied) is the vision, and is very important to community attractiveness and value.

3) Retaining the RSF “Brand”. Brands have value. Loss of our brand will mean lower (not higher) real estate values. The Covenant is unique, can’t be duplicated, and should not be risked.

4) The board talks too much about regulations, instead of improving the Art Jury process. Plus regulations and discretion are at opposite poles. There are limits to discretion. If all approvals are going to be decided by discretion, then regulations are unneeded so why the emphasis on rewriting? Regulations are at odds with the push for more Art Jury discretion. Plus discretion (by definition) creates more inconsistency.

5) The top board Art Jury goal should be stable regulations — easily understood and consistently enforced. We don’t need thousands and over-regulate; far better to focus on 100 important ones followed consistently.

6) Members deserve good service and bought here because they like the RSF Brand. I believe if we are clear about what is wanted, almost all will cooperate.

7) It should be remembered the applicant is burdened to show their proposal conforms, instead of the reverse.

8) The Art Jury process should return to what is specified in PC 47. Too much detailed information is required when the Conceptual Hearing should focus on grading, configuration, mass/size, height, appearance, visual prominence and materials.

These are important “big picture” concepts, the board should accomplish for the benefit of all members.

Bill Strong

(Delivered as member input at the February board meeting)

Do not restrict access to the Players Club lounges at the RSF Golf Course

The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club (RSFGC) started as an independent club after the RSF Covenant was formed in 1928 after the Santa Fe Railway left. The RSFGC ran into financial difficulties and the Rancho Santa Fe Association (RSFA) took over ownership of the golf course in 1934. For 87 years, the RSFGC facilities have been owned by the Covenant homeowners as tenants-in-common (TIC) with an undivided interest in equal shares.

Like a pool in a homeowners association (HOA), RSFA owners should have access to its use. Unlike the golf clubs at the Bridges, the Crosby and Fairbanks Ranch where they’re independent private clubs, the RSFGC is owned by the RSFA.

This ownership distinction separating it from the private status of its neighbors is a key misunderstood point that RSFGC members and some on the RSFA board fail to acknowledge. The RSFGC has never seemed to accept the fact that it is no longer an independent legal entity.

The planned name change of the Vaquero Lounge to “The Men’s Locker Room” and the Bougainvillea to “The Women’s Locker Room” essentially restricts access from the RSFA non-golfing members who own the facility. I don’t know of any men’s locker room that has a bar, fireplace, lounge for dining and veranda. To restrict its access from women is, indeed, discrimination.

There was a misguided attempt to restrict access of the Players Club to the RSFA membership before. After Lisa Bartlett raised discrimination issues under CA Civil Code §51(b) which makes it illegal to restrict access to the lounges to members of either sex, race, color, religion, disability, etc., the RSFGC had to retract that attempt to block it from the RSFA membership.

Prevailing plaintiffs’ court decisions relating to discrimination at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club and at Arizona’s Phoenix Country Club against women should provide guidance to the RSFGC that it must reconsider restricting access to the lounges from the RSFA members. The lounges must remain coed for all RSFA members.

Legally, blocking access for its TIC owners to use those amenities that they already own is a barrier to use that violates the Davis Stirling Act under Ca Civil Code §4500 and Ca Civil Code §1363.

Financially, it is the RSFA who financed the $8M loan (which remains outstanding) in 2006 to build the Players Club and renovate the restaurant. In 2020, the RSFA agreed to subsidize $300K/yr towards operating the restaurant. Perhaps the RSFA could also help fund the Players Club operations to facilitate full access to its facilities.

The restaurant is currently accessible to all RSFA members. What makes it all right to block access to the Players Club lounges from non-golfing RSFA membership? Do not restrict it.

Linda C. L. Leong

29-year RSFA member

SDUHSD board should hold special election to fill vacant seat

As students in the San Dieguito Union High School District, we are disheartened to hear that our long-time serving board member, Trustee Kristin Gibson, has resigned. Ms. Gibson is an outstanding public servant whose work over the past years, not only on the SDUHSD board but also on the Del Mar Union School District board, we deeply respect. Thank you for your years of service, Ms. Gibson.

The COVID-19 virus has completely upended our lives over the past year, yet there are fundamental aspects of our society that remain unchanged. Democracy, the need for public opinion not only to be heard but to be understood and respected, has steadfastly remained a value in our nation. Young voters and voters-to-be saw democracy prevail, despite unprecedented challenges. Yet, democracy is fragile, and protecting it has never been more imperative. We request the board does its part in preserving democracy by holding a special election instead of appointing someone to fill the vacant seat left by Ms. Gibson.

A special election would:

Allow all registered voters to participate and have a say in who represents them.

Put forth the best, most legitimate and committed candidates for the position.

Allow students who are registered voters an opportunity to participate in who represents them.

Be democratic—especially in a school district that does not have at-large representatives, but rather representatives that are specific to one area. It is a conflict of interest to have representatives of other areas determine our trustee.

As there are important issues with regard to our district and reopening that need to be carefully considered, we believe that having a fifth elected voice on our Board of Trustees is particularly important during these times. While we understand there may be cost benefits to appointing a new member, we believe that a special election is the best way to fill the empty seat. It is a democratic process which would allow multiple candidates to be considered by the public.

All citizens in our district area have the right to participate in this democratic process. We, as a district, deserve the most qualified candidate.

Signed, Students of Area 5:

Madeleine Moon

Shiva Kansagara

Andrea Gately

Emanuele Rimini

Joshua Charat-Collins

April 8 issue:

Players Clubhouse: RSF Association board did the right thing—Will they do the right thing again?

On April 1, the RSF Association board voted 6 to 1 to postpone until the May board meeting the issues relating to the Players Clubhouse and hire independent counsel (not their regular counsel) to opine on whether 100% of all women RSF Association members can be excluded from the Vaquero Lounge, located within the Players Clubhouse.

Now, we must hope that the RSF Association board will again do the right thing and hire counsel that has extensive expertise in: 1. Discrimination law, as it relates to an HOA; 2. Real estate law, as it relates to the fact that all land and structures vested in the RSF Association are owned by all members as tenants in common, in equal shares; 3. Requirements of providing the legally required notice to all members relating to the issues at hand; 4. Understands the risks of proceeding, as proposed, as it relates to the RSF Association’s liquor license; and 5. Be truly independent, having no connection to any of the RSF Association board members, RSF Golf Club leadership, RSF Association staff, or the RSF Association’s usual counsel. In hiring such counsel, the RSF Association board should provide counsel with its entire file, as it relates to the issues at hand, from 2002 (the inception of the Players Clubhouse idea) to the present.

Most importantly, will they show true leadership in exercising their fiduciary duty to protect the interests of all Covenant owners in preserving the rights of all rather than unfairly taking from the many to give special benefit to the self-interest of the few? Will they faithfully represent the community or a vocal portion of a club?

Ilia Christy

RSF Association member and resident

Gary Krisel

RSF Association member