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Opinion/Letters to the Editor April 2021

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(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

April 15 issue:

Guest commentary:

Community continues to fight to keep San Pasqual Academy open

By Joan Scott

A newspaper article was released Sunday morning, Feb 21, which featured an announcement, made by Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, stating that San Pasqual Academy was being closed. This was a shock to all involved in San Pasqual Academy, which has successfully been caring for foster kids for over 20 years. The foster teens living there, the staff, graduates and supporters were devastated at this horrifying news. Since then, hundreds of supporters, foster alumni of San Pasqual Academy and foster teens currently living at San Pasqual Academy have rallied to keep this much-needed school and home open for foster teens permanently. Their efforts have been greatly appreciated and highly effective.

The County Board of Supervisors and Child Welfare Services were planning to move foster teens out of San Pasqual Academy “as early as next month”, which would have been in March. This has not happened, thankfully, for many reasons. For many of the foster teens, San Pasqual Academy was their only chance at finding a safe, stable, nurturing environment. Many kids had moved up to 30 times before finally arriving at San Pasqual Academy. They had attended numerous schools and their schooling was frequently interrupted. Finally, they were told that this was going to be their permanent home, they could finish high school there and also would be supported to further their education after high school. All graduates are given scholarships to college or trade schools. The foster teens were able to heal from the abuse, neglect and trauma they had experienced. They thrived.

The County Board of Supervisors and state officials, however, have another plan for San Pasqual Academy. It is slated to close in October 2021. An extension has been filed for it to remain open until October 2022 and the Child Welfare Services are awaiting the state’s decision. When asked, no one will divulge what the plan is for San Pasqual Academy. This plan has been in place for a long time, since social workers have been instructed to not place any more foster teens at San Pasqual Academy. The Polinsky Center, a short-term emergency shelter, is over-crowded and full, yet kids sit there, waiting for placement for months. There is a shortage of foster homes, especially for teenagers. There are over 2,200 foster children under San Diego County’s care, yet beds sit empty at San Pasqual Academy.

The Child Welfare Services say that foster teens are going to be placed with families or reunited with relatives. Ideally, this sounds good, but in reality, for most foster teens at San Pasqual Academy, this is not possible. The graduation rate of foster teens, not at San Pasqual Academy is 45%, compared to a 94% graduation rate at San Pasqual Academy. Siblings are kept together and graduates are supported after they graduate from San Pasqual Academy. The chances for foster teens, not at San Pasqual Academy, are increased in areas of homelessness, criminal activity, unemployment and victimization.

Efforts to keep San Pasqual Academy open have made many officials aware of the profound impact it has had on foster teens. Supervisor Jim Desmond is working with state officials to keep it open. Calls and letters to Senator Toni Atkins, Governor Gavin Newsom, more state and local officials have been constant.

The foster teens, past, current and future, greatly appreciate all everyone has done in this critical fight. They hope the decision-makers will use common sense and do the right thing. They hope they can remain in their beloved home and school and that future foster teens can thrive there too.

For more information, please contact Friends of San Pasqual Academy at 858-759-3298 or visit www.friendsofsanpasqualacademy.org. Supporters of San Pasqual Academy are encouraged to call Senator Toni Atkins as soon as possible to state their support, by calling her office at (916) 651-4039. Our foster kids need your voice.

Joan Scott is the president of the Friends of San Pasqual Academy board.

Help the environment, support bill

With Earth Day on our immediate horizon, I encourage readers to ask their representatives to support a recent bill that was presented in congress, HR2307. This bill will put a price on carbon emissions, a much-needed first step in righting the long-term health of the environment. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is designed to help bring our nation to net zero emissions by the year 2050, support innovation in the creation of clean energy, help save lives by removing many harmful pollutants from our air and put cash back into the pockets of most Americans. We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of our country and planet. It’s in our hands as voters and citizens to make sure that this land is here for our children and grandchildren in the future.

Timothy Bennett,

Encinitas

SFID welcomes spring with water efficiency rebates

Santa Fe Irrigation District has resources available for customers to maximize their water efficiency in the coming months and save money on installation of new devices. SFID serves the communities of Solana Beach and Rancho Santa Fe.

SFID has partnered with local water districts and the Solana Center to offer rain barrel rebates through April 15. Rain barrels are a good way to take advantage of the intermittent rainfall the region receives. Visit the Solana Center website to learn about the benefits of rain barrels and find out how to order and pick up your rain barrel: www.solanacenter.org/purchase-rain-barrel.

In addition to rain barrels, San Diego County residents are eligible for a variety of rebates from turf replacement to updated sprinkler controllers and more efficient sprinkler nozzles. An efficient irrigation system and appropriate landscape palettes can make a dramatic difference in water use and can eliminate waste. Spring’s changing weather patterns bring longer days and warmer temperatures and it’s important to adjust when and how long your sprinkler system needs to run. Visit www.watersmartsd.org or www.socalwatersmart.com to see rebates and incentives available to San Diego County residents from the San Diego County Water Authority and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. These sites also offer videos and tutorials on how to make sure your landscape is efficient, teach you about soil, plant palettes and the basics of your sprinkler system.

Learning how your home and yard is using or wasting water is a great way to predict your bill and make the most efficient use of water. SFID has a customer portal, separate from bill pay, that allows customers to sign-up for reminders, set thresholds for leaks and learn more about water use. Have your account number, name the bill is under and a password that has letters, numbers, and symbols ready to go. Visit the www.sfidwater.org website and click on View my Water Use to learn more. SFID is currently evaluating options to update the customer portal to make it more user friendly and accessible.

SFID is also providing updates on social media, find them on Twitter @SFID or Facebook @santafeid. Information on items such as the customer portal, rebates, tips on reducing water use and the latest from the SFID board, including the development of the District Strategic Plan. This plan will help guide the district policies and programs for the next five to 10 years. Updates will be provided at special board workshops and the monthly meetings, held the third Thursdays of the month at 8:30 a.m. All board meetings are available to view virtually, visit sfidwater.org for dates and details. — SFID news release


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