The Mission Statement of the Rancho Santa Fe Association Board of Directors is: “Preserve and enhance the historic, rural character and ambiance of the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant community.” It’s a delicate balance.
Every day I talk to people who say they moved to the Covenant of Rancho Santa Fe because as soon as they entered the Covenant, they realized, “This is paradise” and “There is no place else like it.” Clearly, our quiet community speaks to people’s hearts. In an era where we all must multi-task to keep our heads above water, and where turning off the noise that surrounds us often requires, literally, putting on “noise-canceling” headphones, our Covenant lifestyle represents something priceless to those of us who live here.
If our mission statement were only to “preserve the historic, rural character,” that would be relatively easy to accomplish. Wouldn’t we just do nothing except keep the lush foliage of the countryside alive? Unfortunately, that isn’t so easy any more. Like any other community, when conditions change, we must adapt. Today circumstances that are beyond our control demand that we think of new ways of planting and of watering our beautiful rural landscape. We are working together, as individual property owners and as a community, to find solutions to that great dilemma.
So, as this challenge to the preservation of our natural surroundings becomes more daunting, how do we at the same time “enhance” our community? “Enhancing” the character and ambience of the community has always been the more challenging part of the mission statement, especially when “preservation” was more straightforward.
Over time, the conditions of our community naturally change with the times. But if we find ways to enhance the community’s assets within those conditions, its character and lifestyle can not only survive, but flourish.
For example, although the quaint images from the 1940s and 1950s, with dirt roads and tied-up horses in the Village, have faded, over the years we have greatly expanded and improved our trail system. This work has allowed us to retain the “ranch-style” ambience and equestrian lifestyle that have defined us for decades.
Today, Covenant residents are demanding access to high speed Internet — a utility that did not exist several decades ago. But in the modern world, access to fast, reliable Internet is not only tied to our quality of life, but also to the value of our homes. That is why we plan to enhance the Covenant by being at the leading edge of communities installing fiber optic cable to serve our members. Once installation is completed, we will ensure that virtually no visible mark has been left on our community.
Yet other issues facing our community do not have clear-cut answers. For example, for many years, RSF Association boards and members have been wrestling with the question of how to improve the traffic situation along the Paseo Delicias-Del Dios corridor. Should we install traffic lights or build roundabouts?
After nearly 15 years of study and debate, the current board is poised to finally make a decision. Last week, the RSF Association hosted a town hall meeting to provide members with one more opportunity to weigh in on this question. The comments were wide-ranging and the concerns, passionate.
As I listened to the very civil conversation, I realized that the difference in opinion was not really about lights versus roundabouts. It was about the best way to preserve and enhance our historic community. It is clear to me that neither solution will satisfy everyone because, on this issue, each solution has different levels of preservation and enhancement to offer the community. However, because inaction threatens both preservation and enhancement, it’s time to act. And I know that all seven members of this RSF Association board will do their very best to make the right decision.
Our board tries to look at the community as we all look at our own homes. Even if you feel the house you live in is perfect, you must regularly take action to protect its exterior and the contents against fire, weather and the passage of time. You might even have to put on a whole new fire-retardant roof. To do nothing would leave one of your most important assets vulnerable to deterioration and ultimately to erosion of its value.
The members of the RSF Association board are committed to making decisions that are faithful to its Mission Statement. We may not always agree, but we are each focused on the best long-term interests of the Covenant community.
In making decisions that truly benefit the community long-term, we want to thank the growing number of residents who have contributed to the discussions, giving us a more informed ability to do so.