Don’t call it ‘Retreat’; call it ‘Moving Forward’


Rancho Santa Fe Association board presodent

For many years around this time, the board has held its annual retreat to hold in-depth discussions of priorities and projects. In light of the magnitude and importance of the priorities we are addressing, we have retitled our event the Strategic Planning Meeting, which will be on Aug. 7.

I looked back at notes from 2013 and 2014 meetings and realized how far we have come, as well as how much remains to be accomplished.

Among the items the board reviewed in the fall of 2013 were:

• Finding a secondary source of water for the Golf Club;

• Hiring a consultant to help design a marketing plan for the Golf Club and the Covenant;

• Building a new website;

• Hiring a consultant to review human resource policies and benefits;

• Purchasing new accounting software for the Association;

• Renaming the Art Jury and making it more “user-friendly;”

• Extending Golf Club membership rights to condominium owners;

• Relandscaping at the entrances to the Covenant.

By the fall of 2014, many of the above issues — except for water — had been resolved or replaced by more pressing concerns.

• The marketing consultant had completed a survey and recommended that we consider building a community health club and pool;

• We had hired an HR consultant and updated all of our personnel policies and benefits;

• The accounting department was integrating its new software;

• The Art Jury had changed its working name to Covenant Design Review Committee;

• Condominium owners had been given rights to Golf Club memberships;

• Most of the entrances to the Covenant had drought-tolerant plantings.

At our 2014 meeting, the big concerns included:

• Searching for a new Manager;

• Running the Association “more like a business,” which meant looking for efficiencies in all departments;

• Finding a secondary source of water for the Golf Club;

•Bringing high-speed Internet and improved cell coverage to the Covenant;

• Increasing voter registration;

• Moving forward to a community vote to study the health club project;

• Analyzing future uses for Osuna Ranch;

• Streamlining the CDRC process.

Here we are, preparing for our 2015 Strategic Planning meeting. It is clear that, while we have accomplished a lot this past year, many important priorities are still works in progress. The big achievement was hiring our new Manager. His influence is being felt in many ways, from building morale by empowering staff members to finding creative ways of collaborating with all the entities that have a role in the life of the Covenant. At every level, staff is focused on running the Association like a business while keeping excellent service to members a constant priority.

And, in the meantime, we accomplished a lot that wasn’t even on our radar back in the fall of 2014. For instance:

• The accounting department procedures and financial reporting have been completely revised and updated;

• We hired new legal counsel;

• We hired a new audit firm;

• We hired a new insurance broker;

• We revised our banking relationships and the outstanding loan for the Golf Club;

• The Finance Committee, renamed Finance and Audit Committee, now has increased responsibility for analyzing all issues related to the financial health of the RSF Association.

The big priorities from last year remain in our focus this year. The drought has expanded our objective of finding a secondary source of water for the Golf Club to include looking for Covenant-wide solutions to the water sourcing and usage problems.

Beyond water, we are focused on:

• Implementing our goal to install fiber-optic cable throughout the Covenant. (The Technology Infrastructure Committee is analyzing the potential business and financing models to present to the board.)

• Improving cellphone service coverage. (The Finance Committee is reviewing contracts for that project.)

• Designing the Covenant Club. (The committees are working toward bringing a design and business model to the community for a vote.)

• Evaluating the Osuna Ranch. (The Finance Committee will be reviewing appraisals and alternatives.)

• Improving the CDRC process and guidelines. (The board will be discussing the best way to approach this project.)

• Improving communications with members and with the world beyond the Covenant.

• Reviewing the governing documents to ensure that they are in full compliance with Davis Stirling laws and that they serve the best interests of all our members.

• Developing and implementing a new Long Range Plan for the Village. The first step will be to engage the community in order to realize our vision. The Village Planning project will involve many moving parts, volunteers and professionals over the next two years.

Consider our lists of priorities — completed, just begun and ongoing. (I have not included the many smaller projects and activities that keep us all busy.) The concerns have gotten bigger and more complex. Our gathering this year is aptly called our “Strategic Planning Meeting.”

Your board and your Manager are now more ambitious and more energetic in what we envision we can accomplish for this community. We invite you to engage with us and work with us as we move the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant forward into the future.