Opinion/Letters to the Editor December 2021/January, February, March, April 2022
Dec. 2 issue:
Story highlights importance of equestrian community to RSF
I am happy to be a subscriber/supporter of the Review, with wonderful writers like Karen Billing who covers the Rancho Santa Fe community so well. Her cover story Nov. 23 featuring my daughter Caroline included everything I knew about her success in the national riding arena, and highlights how important the equestrian community is to our community. The trainers at Osuna are truly world-class, nationally- recognized as the best in America (the arena at the Los Angeles horse show is named after local trainer Hap Hansen, indicating how the American horse community respects him).
Rancho Santa Fe
Dec. 9 issue:
Cell phones have become are large part of our everyday life but if your current cell phone operates on the 3G network, you may need to upgrade your cell phone before your mobile provider shuts down its 3G network, to avoid losing service including the ability to activate 9-1-1 in an emergency. Our “Safety Notification” to all from the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District is to please take the valuable time and contact your mobile provider directly to get their plan for the 3G retirement and how you can prepare.
As early as January 1, 2022, mobile carriers are shutting down their 3G networks, which rely on older technology, to make room for more advanced network services, including 5G. As a result, many older cell phones will be unable to make or receive calls and texts, including calls to 9-1-1 emergency calls, or use data services. Again, please contact your cell phone carrier directly for additional information specific to their plan and time line.
Deputy Chief, Rancho Santa Fe Fire
Dec. 16 issue:
Why have RSF Association regulations?
The Art Jury (“AJ”) is the central function of the RSF Association, and the appointment of new art jurors is the most important decision a president can make. The process is governed by the Protective Covenant (”PC”) and a board resolution used for decades. When both are not followed, as in 2017, turmoil, inconsistency and a loss of rural ambiance follows.
This year the president deviated from the specified process without board authorization by including others in the process who have a definite conflict of interest. The president skipped over the required step of the board giving the list of nominees to the president, and instead the president appointed an unqualified modern “spec builder” to the Art Jury (??). That erroneous appointment has been withdrawn.
The failure to follow procedures and the obvious lack of due diligence should alarm members. When an Art Jury volunteer’s application receives six hearings in five months at the conceptual level, it shows a wasteful inefficient AJ process, and an applicant with excessive non-conforming aspects. It also shows an applicant who does not understand or is not sympathetic to the requirements for AJ approval and our community character. It also shows someone who will not represent member interests and the PC.
The PC is a mutual covenant to be uniformly applied and consistently enforced in order to retain our architectural controls, and appointments to the AJ must have that mindset. Deviation from the established processes and regs is rarely a good idea. When allowed to happen by the board, it is inexcusable.
When important matters are decided by a 4-3 vote by the board instead of following regulations, why have the regulations?
Bill Strong, member since 1985 and trying to improve the AJ process since 1998.
January 13 issue:
Protect our community by keeping our right of ways safe and open to the public
Our residential roadways in Rancho Santa Fe need to have dedicated right of ways for walkers, bicycle and other pedestrian uses. There is an eight-foot shoulder on each side of the road for these uses. On trash days this is where you should put your trash containers for pick-up. However, what we see along many of restricted right of ways are rocks, huge vegetation, boulders, etc. that in most cases prohibit walking and bike riding within the eight-foot right of way required by the county for those uses.
The net effect of this misuse of the shoulders in our community creates a very hodgepodge look to our roadways. Instead of a seamless open walking or bike riding area, we are forcing these activities to use the roads and then compete with the cars — a dangerous activity.
The eight feet on each side of the residential roadways should be used for allowing safe passage for our neighbors and friends who want to walk or ride on the county right of way provided on each side of the road. Sometimes this apron area can be used temporarily for visitor parking or delivery vehicles. The area next to the roadway is best used when covered with wood chips, gravel, or low plantings. This is the entry to your property through the right of way and it should be kept open for others to use.
According to the County of San Diego Public Road Standards, our residential roadways are generally classified as Collector Series with no improvements which means it provides for two 12-foot travel lanes and two 8-foot shoulders.
Please take a good hard look at our public roadways, especially now that schools are open and children are walking or riding their bikes on our roadways again. Help protect our community by keeping our right of ways safe and open to the public.
Rancho Santa Fe
An Open Letter to the Rancho Santa Fe Board of Trustees
Having served our school district as a trustee for 12 years and presided over it three times, I understand that the board must make difficult decisions in order to benefit the community of which it serves. Observing the governor’s mandate to vaccinate children over the age of 5 should be seen as such a benefit to our district which includes children, teachers, parents, grandparents, senior citizens and our immune-compromised.
Today In California, 38 percent of hospitals are in crisis, and 43 percent expect a crisis this week.
The school board’s unanimous decision to message the governor that requiring vaccinations for students is “ill-advised and in opposition to the educational, social, and emotional goals of the district” is reckless. Its thinking is convoluted. The number one issue here is protecting the health of the district, its students and teachers from Covid and should be the school board’s goal. If some parents do not want to vaccinate their children, they should have the option for at-home schooling, and our district can certainly provide and fund that alternative.
One of our trustees said he believes in vaccinations but “lets his own children choose whether they wish to be vaccinated”. Since when do 6 or even 13 year- olds have the experience and knowledge to make decisions about their health and the health of an entire community? What kind of message is being sent here?
The school board must make decisions based on the best medical science.
Former Rancho Santa Fe School board president
January 20 issue:
We abide by the Protective Covenant
In a December 16, 2021 Letter to the Editor, the writer alleged that the RSF Association board by a 4-3 vote failed to abide by the Protective Covenant. That allegation is false and misleading. The decision to extend the search process for candidates for the Art Jury does not in any way abrogate the provisions of the Protective Covenant, a fact that was confirmed by our counsel in that public meeting.
President, Rancho Santa Fe Association
Feb. 17 issue:
Disaster lurks if we don’t take back local zoning control!
Recent California state laws SB9 and SB10, effective Jan. 1, 2022, granted unprecedented power to the state to greatly increase housing densities statewide. Jeopardizing community character and quality of life, the bills are touted as creating lower-income housing, yet in actuality require zero affordable housing.
While Rancho Santa Fe may enjoy some zoning protection locally, high-density housing will greatly increase area traffic and threatens our ability to evacuate during the next wildfire. The Goodson project, a monstrous 283-unit apartment complex planned on the Covenant’s doorstep across from Harvest Ranch Market, if constructed, will open the door to further high-density projects adjacent to the Ranch. Last November the City of Encinitas denied the Goodson project based on limited issues such as excessive height, dark skies and storage, but also denied the appeal from Encinitas Residents for Responsible Development which included adverse effects to public safety, particularly in the event of wildfire evacuations. The City of Encinitas turned their head when safety concerns surfaced regarding major flaws in Encinitas’ fire evacuation plan. This past January, the state has put the City of Encinitas on “Notice of Violation”. The state said the city may not deny the developer as he is “by-right”. They must allow the developer his waivers, 68’ height and all. This is just one example of state overreach for rampant inappropriate development that will egregiously harm existing communities.
The good news is: Our Neighborhood Voices initiative, is a statewide petition which would: 1) Give local control to address state-required need for affordable housing without the state giving developers waivers to build whatever they want regardless of the harmful effects on our communities. 2) It provides that city and county land-use and zoning laws (including local housing laws) override all conflicting state laws. 3) It prevents state legislature and local legislative bodies from passing laws invalidating voter approval local land use or zoning initiatives. 4) It prohibits the state from changing, granting or denying funding to local governments based on their implementation of this measure. For more details see www.OurNeighborhoodVoices.com.
The initiative is backed by elected officials across California tired of one-size-fits-all high-density housing forced on the Ranch and our neighbors. If enough signatures are obtained it will be on the ballot in November. If the voters pass the legislation, it will become state law in 2023.
The law requires that a signing of a petition relating to this matter be signed in person, not electronically. Therefore, please add your name at an upcoming RSF Post Office signing.
Ranch resident 67 years
Feb. 24 issue
‘North Coast Singers soldiers on despite challenges’
The article titled “North Coast Singers soldiers on despite challenges” in the Feb. 10, 2022 issue (page 16) about the tests that COVID has created for our choirs captured many of the issues we have faced. However, the reader may have come away with the misimpression that our choirs will close if more funding was not found.
We have been proactive in seeking other sources of funding for our choirs throughout the pandemic. Fortunately, there have been government programs that have come to rescue of arts organizations like ours. We applied for, and received, a federally-backed PPP loan in 2020. This spring we received a State of California grant for the arts. Both infusions of cash have covered our income shortfall. The PPP loan has been released. Over the past 29 years, when we have had more revenue than our operating cost we have banked this money in a “rainy day fund”.
Today we are fiscally just about at the same place we were before the pandemic started. We expect that the 22/23 school year will bring us back to 80% of our former size and by 23/24 we will be at our full pre- pandemic choir size.
We welcome community support and intend to provide singing opportunities for children from grammar school through high school for years to come.
Richard B. Stevens
March 10 issue:
Our teachers are not the enemy
It’s revealing to observe how leaders behave when a huge problem lands in their lap. Covid qualifies as the challenge of our generation, demanding much from the people representing us, fair or not.
On the local school board level, what the SDUHSD community needed from its board was robust problem-solving. What we were offered, though, was the intellectually simpler approach of scapegoating the teachers, their union, both. Trustee Michael Allman, then brand new to the board, vilified these teachers, accusing them of being lazy and not wanting to teach in person. The chats on his private Facebook group read like a diary stolen from a rival clique. Members gleefully discussed which administrators should be fired, how badly the teachers were doing, etc. I’d never seen so much hostility leveled towards public teachers by anyone, let alone someone serving on a board… of a public school district.
Covid seems to be waning, but our teachers aren’t off the hook yet: Enter the “union map.” New census results obligated the district to “gently change” the trustee electoral areas. Trustees Allman, followed by Trustees Muir and Mossy, voted for a new map that was redrawn beyond recognition, even after a warning that its revision was likely illegal. What was so wrong with the other map, the gently redrawn map that was not illegal? Allman called it a “union map.” Beats me how a map can be for or against teachers, but I do know Michael Allman deflected the real answer to that question with another teacher jab.
I submit that we in this award-winning district deserve more from our leaders. Our kids certainly don’t need more bad behavior modeled for them. They’ve endured the masks, the internet connections, and the isolation with strength and grace. And please ask any teacher how “easy” it was for them to teach online. There were no winners during Covid. How needless, then, to make a difficult situation worse for teachers who literally scrambled multiple times to adapt their craft to the ever-changing situation.
Don’t let this become the norm.
Kate Takahashi, district parent
April 14 issue:
Francisco Building on Paseo Delicias
It appears that one of RSF’s historical properties on the main street, Paseo Delicias, has been sold. That’s not very newsworthy except that the new owners are planning to make significant changes to this historical building now called the “New Francisco”.
Change it how? There is mention of a small scale grocery store/deli on the street level with large windows that open and seating on chairs outside on the sidewalk along Paseo Delicias. Then they are also planning a new use for a “second story” where the roof currently is located that is to be turned into an outdoor patio and bar lounge area with table and chairs overlooking the streets and town of RSF with some kind of fabric covering for a roof for whomever ventures upstairs. Just imagine the change from a quiet evening along Paseo Delicias with this new venue entertaining their patrons from above on the roof and/or on the public sidewalk below.
First, let’s see how they figure out how to change the old roof into a floor for people to walk on after getting access to that second floor level. At that upstairs level a full bar is planned probably plus music to keep everybody happy. There also has been mention of having a pizza oven up there too.
Hopefully they are planning to have plans to contain their patrons safely on this new rooftop venue and also protect the neighboring properties from any disruptions like noise and commotion from above and below.
Of course there are also things like a liquor license to be acquired and then their building plans will need to be approved by the RSF Planning Committee and the Board of Directors. Absent is any parking for these newly expanded venues. The use of a rooftop may be OK for Highway 101 in Leucadia where a similar rooftop venue is being used, but in Rancho Santa Fe — I don’t think so.
I wonder what Lilian Rice would have said about this new proposed use on the top of one of our historical buildings on Paseo Delicias...what’s next to change our village? Is this what we want for our village to become?
Rancho Santa Fe
April 28 issue:
It’s International Dark Sky Week!
Rancho Santa Fe Covenant (RSF) is a California State Historic Landmark with a Cultural Landscape Amendment on all 6,600 acres. RSF has always encouraged a dark sky, low light policy because it is officially designated as a “rural” community. The San Dieguito Planning Group, of which RSF is part, also supports a dark sky policy. A dark sky is important to maintain our treasured community character.
From April 22 through April 30, the world celebrates International Dark Sky Week. The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) states that “Any artificial light that is not needed is a pollutant that has serious and harmful consequences. Light pollution can disrupt wildlife, impact human health, waste money and energy, contribute to climate change, and block our view of the universe.”
The IDA promotes “environmentally responsible” outdoor lighting. To minimize the harmful effects of light pollution, lighting should only be on when and where it is needed. Lights should be no brighter than necessary. Lights chosen should “minimize blue light emissions” and be fully shielded downward.
Please consider including some of the IDA suggestions when changing the RSF Association’s Outdoor Lighting Regulation.
Rancho Santa Fe
Kudos for success of RSF Golf Club renovation
I just had a chance to play all 18 holes of Rancho Santa Fe‘s recently renovated golf course a couple times this past week. The results are fantastic! Kudos to the RSF Golf Club’s board of governors and staff for a job extremely well done. The Association’s major asset has been greatly enhanced by their thoughtful planning and hard work.
I know this will be hard for some to believe, but one of the primary reasons for the renovation‘s success is the removal of several trees. Sight lines throughout the course as well as its playability are both dramatically improved. For instance, standing on the second green one can see the next several holes ahead and the homes that are adjacent to them. It is a beautiful sight and much better than staring at some eucalyptus trees and Canary Island date palms. I suspect this is very much how the course looked when it was first designed almost 100 years ago.
I know that the removal of trees is a sensitive subject in RSF, but there is one tree on the course that still needs to go: the large eucalyptus on the right side of the 16th fairway. Because of its height, it blocks what would otherwise be a spectacular uninterrupted vista from the 11th green. (Note: I’m not talking about the lone tree immediately behind the 11th green; that one adds a lot to the course’s aesthetic.) If you haven’t done so yet, walk to that point on the course and you’ll see what I mean. Removing that tree on the 16th fairway will make that spot the signature view of the Ranch.
Rancho Santa Fe
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