Opinion/Letters to the Editor May, June 2022

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(File photo)

May 19 issue:

RSF Historical Society: Thank you for the opportunity to serve

Dear RSF Historical Society Membership and Rancho Santa Fe Community:

After 18 rewarding years on the Board of the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society, I am stepping down as of May 17th. Starting in 2004 as the Assistant Treasurer, Treasurer, then since 2009, President, I have loved working with very creative and dedicated individuals, all interested in bringing out the best in the Historical Society and working toward providing the best possible resource to the community in collecting, maintaining and presenting the history of Rancho Santa Fe.

We have strived to make the HS financially solvent, creatively relevant and to be the pillar in the community of historic information through its archives, website and related activities. In setting up repeatable operational programs, we have enabled the HS to continue its operation under new guidance and feel confident that the enthusiasm remains high to continue the great works of the organization. With that being said, we could not have achieved those tasks without your ongoing support, the support of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation and many other organizations that have assisted with the various programs and activities over the years. In addition, we thank those that have remembered the Historical Society in their Estate Plans, which have had a significant impact on the financial solvability of the organization.

With that being said, there is much more to be done. I would hope that you continue to support your Historical Society, both financially and by participating in the planning and execution of its programs so as to ensure the continued success and that it remains an intricate resource for the community in the years to come. If you have an inclination to become involved in many of the projects and committees, the Board or to simply financially support the HS, please reach out and offer your support. Stop by and say Hi at La Flecha House.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you and I certainly hope to run into you at the future events of the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society.

All the best,

John N. Vreeburg

Past President and Board Member, and

Continued Supporter of the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society

May 26 issue:

Please vote!

Elections have consequences. Even more so this year, when we will elect three Association directors — nearly half of the board. Our votes should elect directors who will collaborate rather than confront, listen rather than lecture, and be trusting as well as trustworthy. We need them to rise above personal agendas, and to support our excellent staff. Most of all, we need to elect directors who will work together.

Please be involved in our community and vote.

Bill Weber,

24-year resident

President, Rancho Santa Fe Board of Directors

RSF wildfire evacuation threatened by Goodson Project, county study urgently needed

The proposed Goodson project, a massive 250-unit apartment complex near the busy intersection of Encinitas Boulevard and Rancho Santa Fe Road, poses serious public safety risks for Rancho Santa Fe (RSF) residents. The RSF Association strongly opposes the project. Latest revisions to the Goodson development in rural Olivenhain are not sufficient to protect the public’s safety during a wildfire evacuation.

California’s Attorney General has put pressure on the City of Encinitas to approve the latest Goodson proposal and threatened legal action if the city fails to approve the revised project. Yet adding high-density housing should never put nearby community members in harm’s way.

Encinitas officials have done no comprehensive study of the adverse fire, traffic, and public safety impacts this project will have on RSF residents. Two studies, the Encinitas Fitch report and Olivenhain’s Wildfire Safety Report, found that rapid area wildfires may threaten Olivenhain and surrounding communities before residents can evacuate safely. This conclusion was reached even before accounting for evacuating RSF residents and the hundreds of trailers required to carry large animals from our community.

RSF’s former Fire Chief Fred Cox expressed serious concerns about the Goodson project’s impact on RSF wildfire evacuation and urged an independent fire behavior analysis and evacuation study. Notably, previous consultant reports failed to account for the added population of Goodson residents at a critical evacuation point.

While stressing the risks of future wildfires, the RSF Association also reported other severe traffic concerns. Increased traffic congestion resulting from 500-600 vehicles in the Goodson project will delay emergency crews and law enforcement from responding to medical issues, traffic accidents, criminal activity, and other time-sensitive situations. During morning and afternoon rush hours, bumper-to-bumper traffic congests Rancho Santa Fe Road/Manchester Avenue, La Bajada/El Mirlo/Los Morros, La Noria/El Camino Real and Encinitas Boulevard. It often takes 30 minutes or more to cover the 1.4 miles from the RSF ballfields to the intersection of Encinitas Boulevard and RSF Road. In emergency conditions, such as a wildfire, the compounding effect of Goodson resident traffic could be disastrous.

We urge the County Board of Supervisors to conduct a comprehensive, multi-jurisdictional study to evaluate potential adverse impacts of the Goodson project on public safety in RSF and other communities that share our wildfire evacuation routes (e.g., Del Dios, Elfin Forest, Harmony Grove). Ideally, this study should be completed before the June 8 Encinitas City Council meeting to vote on the latest Goodson proposal. Our community is at high risk for intense, fast-moving wildfires. It is imperative that local government take responsible, preventive steps to protect the health and safety of RSF residents.

Please share your concerns with our County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer at or send a message on her website.

Marcia Lee and Sarah Rahm

Concerned Citizens of Rancho Santa Fe

We must find our way back to civility and a willingness to hear all voices

By now, news of the May 19 San Dieguito Union High School District Regular Board Meeting has spread well past San Diego County news coverage, with the Los Angeles Times running a piece about it. Descriptions of the shouting, the shoving, and the selective silencing are being compared to the Jerry Springer Show, infamous for its unruliness.

I attended this meeting for 5-1/2 hours, hoping to address the board during the closed-session public comment period. In the meeting, I learned that Trustee Michael Allman had sent a message to supporters of his efforts to terminate the superintendent, urging them to arrive well before the start of the meeting to sign up to comment. He wrote: “Board President Mo Muir has discretion on how many public comments she will accept, but I doubt it will be like previous meetings where everyone was allowed to speak.”

Forty-five speakers asked to address the board on closed-session items. In a break from custom of the past many meetings, Board President Muir announced only the first 15 would speak. (The first commenter disclosed his one o’clock arrival time, two hours prior to the three o’clock start of the meeting.) Most called for the superintendent’s termination. Between speakers 10 and 11, when a member of the audience rose to ask if alternate viewpoints could be heard, he was shouted down, his chair shoved into him by a previous speaker, and he was asked to “please be respectful” by Board President Muir.

Sadly, beyond how the meeting was misgoverned by Board President Muir, was the way the public conducted itself. Interrupting speakers, shouting, booing, chanting were commonplace during the meeting, which should have been an ordinary part of the democratic process—a value shared by most Americans—in which the public communicates with elected officials in a space sanctioned by the Constitution. People yelled over others trying to speak different perspectives. An attendee posted to the private Facebook Group administered by Trustee Allman’s wife, “It’s crazy town in here. This may make national news.” Maybe national news has been Muir’s and Allman’s goal all along.

Has our district devolved so much that we can’t come together civilly to participate in one of the most important aspects of our democracy? Speaking freely in a public meeting to address elected officials is a cherished and important American birthright. When fellow Americans and elected officials disrupt that process, we lose an essential, everyday part of democracy. What a shame this is happening in San Dieguito, where, as a community, we’ll lose much more if we cannot find our way back to civility, respect, and a willingness to hear all voices.

Jen Charat

Carmel Valley,
parent of 3 SDUHSD students

June 2 issue:

SFID: An endless downward spiral of failure

The Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID) is the government water monopoly, which has the responsibility to provide us with unlimited amounts of water at an economical rate (the ratepayers determine what is “economical”). Since 1961 we have gone from paying a base rate and receiving two levels of discount (repeat: discount) for quantity use to our current schedule of rates where we now pay a base rate with four levels of surcharge. You can see how this government monopoly has spectacularly failed the ratepayers over the years. The SFID is overseen by a Board of Directors (BOD), who are supposed to represent the best interests of the ratepayers. If you have been to any SFID BOD meetings you would see how laughable that concept is. They represent the bureaucracy’s best interests – not the ratepayers. Three of the five people on the SFID BOD are retired government workers.

At the May 2 Cost of Service meeting, the SFID BOD heard a presentation by a satellite company who described how they could use their satellites to look – individually -- into everybody’s yards to determine how much water they will allocate (ration) to us, based on what they think our “needs” should be. Some of the proposed criteria would include how much hardscaping there is, how big the footprint of the house is on the lot, how groups of properties have coverage, how many people are living in the house, how much lawn there is, whether or not there is a swimming pool, etc. They even discussed requiring us to apply for a “variance” if we have horses. (Applying for a variance does not guarantee that they will ration extra water for the horses.) That the SFID would even consider such micro-managing control and rationing is outrageous and obviously not in the ratepayers’ best interests.

This means that the SFID is one vote away from dragging us down to the level of the water monopolies in any communist country where the glorious State determines how much water they think the peasants need. Ungrateful peasants who demand more water need further rationing and punishment. Why would the SFID BOD want to mirror how things are done in totalitarian States?

Instead of looking for ways to ration water to us, they should seek out new sources of water, and build new reservoirs, etc.

I hope the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant homeowner’s Board of Directors will reinstate our lawsuit against the SFID so such a disgraceful, shameful proposal is not given further consideration. I would also hope that we demand that Sacramento writes a law that precludes government workers (or retired government workers) from serving on the Boards of Directors of any government monopoly.

Rory Kendall

Covenant resident since 1963

Time for budget to reflect urgent repair needs for SDUHSD schools

Our San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) schools currently have over $77M+ in deferred maintenance as described in the 2020 Facilities Condition Draft Report. This independent review of our facilities notes that our schools have urgent repair needs, with over $21M marked as the highest priority. In the two years since the review, less than $2M of these repairs have been completed.

The disrepair our schools are in is shocking. For example, currently, at San Dieguito High School Academy (SDA), the high school impacted by enrollment well beyond capacity, significant plumbing issues in the school bathrooms, including failing sinks and inadequate water pressure, are impairing our students’ ability to properly wash their hands. Serious and dangerous electrical issues include unsecured wiring and non-GFCI outlets, some without covers, next to sinks used by students. Infrastructure such as sidewalks, parking lots, and retaining walls are in a state of structural failure. Roofing is past expected lifespan with areas of exposed dry rot, and gas lines on the roof are rusted and corroding.

Across the district, HVAC systems are at the end of their lifespans. Ventilation and filtration are key components of keeping school populations healthy, and yet these systems are not being updated as needed. And, the longer these desperately needed repairs are put off, the more catastrophic the eventual expense will be.

In 2012, voters specifically approved Prop AA bond projects such as CCA’s expansion of engineering spaces and a new black box theatre, as well as improvements at other schools. Ten years later, some of these projects haven’t been started yet, while Trustees Muir and Allman insist on other expenditures, such as spending almost $700,000 on architect plans for a potential aquatics facility at Torrey Pines High that has not been approved by either voters or the board.

There have been recent years during which the district has spent nothing on significant maintenance. And as some of our schools have increased enrollment and added instructional space, maintenance staffing has not kept up, resulting in an estimated shortage of 25 custodial positions needed to keep our schools running in optimal, clean and safe condition.

Our district paid over $300,000 for this expert review. It is time for our board, specifically Board President Muir and Vice President Michael Allman, to stop operating with consistent disregard for expertise provided by district staff and independent reports regarding safety of students. It is time for the budget to reflect the needs of all students, starting with basic and urgent safety concerns identified by the priority 1 designation, and for the board to immediately develop a plan to address the rapidly worsening repairs in priority 2. To do otherwise is financial and operational mismanagement of our district.

Kimberly McSherry

Carmel Valley

Parent of 2 current and 2 former students (grads) in SDUHSD

June 9 issue:

RSF Association must address wildfire risks of new development

RSF faces major challenges from state legislation on land development and high-density housing, affecting our rural character, safety, traffic and property values. One example is the proposed Goodson Project, a 250-unit apartment complex near the busy intersection of Rancho Santa Fe Road and Encinitas Boulevard. Several studies of this project determined that fast-moving wildfires may threaten Olivenhain, RSF and neighboring communities before residents may evacuate safely. Traffic congestion from 500-600 Goodson vehicles will also clog roads and delay emergency response in this area.

While it is important to provide affordable housing, California must also be responsible for keeping communities safe from rapidly increasing wildfires. The Olivenhain-Encinitas Fire Evacuation Analysis Report (Charles Weber report, 2021) found that Santa Ana-driven wildfires in the area may reach the intersection of RSF Road and Encinitas Boulevard in as little as one hour after ignition---long before residents from Olivenhain, RSF and neighboring communities may safely evacuate.

Charles Weber concluded that when flames overrun RSF Road and areas of Olivenhain, “there is a strong possibility that a large number of residents will receive severe injuries, up to and including death, from fire entrapments on evacuation routes impacted by the Project Site’s increased vehicle load on egress roadways identified as having major existing constraints and limited traffic capacities.” This conclusion was reached without accounting for hundreds of RSF residents and horse trailers that would attempt to use Encinitas evacuation routes, as well as the challenges of evacuating area schools.

As an RSF Association director and San Dieguito Planning Group member, I testified against the Goodson Project before both the Encinitas Planning Commission and Encinitas City Council. Our Association opposed the Goodson Project; RSFA President Bill Weber joined me in testifying against the project before the Encinitas City Council.

On June 8, the Encinitas City Council will vote on the latest Goodson proposal. While the City is expected to approve the project based on its affordable housing component, critics emphasize the project’s continuing public safety risks. Encinitas Residents for Responsible Development continue to have pending lawsuits against the project.

California has suffered record-breaking wildfires in recent years. RSF homeowners’ insurance costs have soared. It would be more appropriate to concentrate housing growth in communities with low or moderate wildfire risk, rather than to install high density at our rural boundary in a high fire danger zone. I encourage our RSFA board to be proactive in monitoring and mitigating future wildfire risk. Taking preventive action, including conducting RSFA traffic and wildfire evacuation studies, approving fire-resistant building materials and undergrounding our power lines can help to save our homes, lives and community.

Laurel Lemarié

45-year RSF resident

Director, Rancho Santa Fe Association

Satellite use should not be considered

Regarding Mr. Kendall’s experience at the Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID) May 2 Cost of Service meeting. I did not attend so can only rely on Mr. Kendall’s interpretation of the meeting which I have to believe because I just don’t think you could make up a story like that. Laughable would be an apt description.

What kind of company creates a business to spy on their fellow citizens and make a judgment about how much water they should be allotted. This is the best you can do armed with satellites? Mr. Kendall may call it a communistic approach, but I’d call it pathetic.

Why would the SFID Board of Directors even think of entertaining such an assault on a property owner’s privacy? Shame on you.

Cindy Baker

Covenant resident since 1987

Editor’s Note: The opinion letter above refers to an opinion letter published in this newspaper June 2 submitted by RSF resident Rory Kendall titled “ SFID: An endless downward spiral of failure”