Letters/Opinion: April 4, April 11, April 18, April 25


April 4:

Traffic issues in RSF need to be addressed

Being a longtime resident of the Ranch I remember there was a time when no one would dare short cut through Rancho Santa Fe for fear of being endlessly lost. On countless occasions I rescued people sobbing in my driveway asking for directions to Encinitas, I-5 and one poor lost soul wanted directions to Barona Casino. Alas, with GPS this is no longer the case and, as a result, the traffic has increased 10-fold if not more since its inception. It’s all about getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible. I get that. I don’t want to sit in traffic any more than the next driver, but for some reason our scenic curvy roads bring out the Mario Andretti in everyone. Creating dangers to cyclists and people, horses and dogs using the trails along the roadways. Not to mention the noise. I am sure that one of Evel Knievel’s descendants rips by my house at least twice a day.

I am not familiar with the barriers that an Encinitas neighborhood put up (Mr. Hanley referenced this in his letter of March 28th), but I do recall the residents living on Zumaque St. had a gate installed to keep people from short-cutting through the Ranch from Rancho Bernardo. I strongly agree with Mr. Hanley that something needs to be done and an enforced 25 MPH speed limit might help deter if not, at the very least, slow down the commuters who now use our community as a thoroughfare and, in some cases, a Grand Prix track. It is a problem that the Rancho Santa Fe Association needs to address.

Cindy Baker

Rancho Santa Fe

April 11:

Focus should be on enforcing or changing the Covenant

I was surprised to read about Jane van Praag’s resignation from CDRC (Covenant Design Review Committee) and somewhat amused at the drama surrounding her removal from a volunteer position. I typically would not bother to write a letter to the editor, but your article left me feeling confused and curious for a few reasons. First, it was stated in your article that her “characterization of the failures of the CDRC is inaccurate,” which seems contrary to why the board unanimously approved to send an oversight letter to CDRC about enforcing the Covenant.

Also it mentioned the CDRC provided examples against her alleging she insulted applicants. As a recent applicant, our experience with Ms. van Praag was opposite of that. In the past year, my husband and I renovated our property across from hers. She brought to the CDRC’s attention that we violated our application by removing existing trees not as shown in landscape plans. We were indeed in error. We approached her about the issue and not only was she extremely professional, she was appreciative and informative about the Covenant and how to correct the issue. Another reason for my confusion and curiosity after reading your article is regarding the allegation about “undermining the CDRC by disclosing confidential and preliminary discussions.” Aren’t all the CDRC meetings public and aren’t matters concerning the CDRC disclosed to members?

Also, I wonder if there were such strong behavioral issues with Ms. van Praag to the extent of “malfeasance” since August 2017, why would it take so long to remove her? Am I missing something? At this point, your article peaked my interest so much that I read the February 7th letters from the board to CDRC et al. Basically, the main point of concern was “about the interpretation and enforcement of [the Covenant, Codes and Guidelines] and the overall deliberative process of the CDRC” and in the second letter it referenced Paragraphs 155-159. After locating the “Covenant,” I read these paragraphs in hopes of enlightenment. Now I understand why the letter noted concerns about “excessive grading, projects with unrestrained mass and scale, and buildings that are inconsistent with Latin-type design.” Perhaps the reason for Ms. van Praag’s removal/resignation should have been she knew and cared too much about the “Covenant.”

This seems to be “much to do about van Praag” when it should be about enforcing or changing the Covenant. Taking dramatics aside, anyone who walks or drives around the Covenant can visibly see varying “styles” or “types” of architecture so it’s clear we as a community (board and CDRC included) do not have consistent understanding nor enforcement of the content of the “Covenant, Code and Guidelines.”

Anh Nguyen-Paulus

Rancho Santa Fe

April 18:

Dismissal/resignation of CDRC member: Questions, transgressions & where this leaves us

Who is going to be willing to volunteer their services in the Covenant, if they know that the “Rule of Law” may not be followed?

Don’t we all want “adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability before the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision making, legal certainty, absence of arbitrariness and procedural legal transparency”? [Source: Internet definition of “The Rule of Law”]

A multitude of examples exist of individuals who perceive real wrongdoing in our community, yet they are afraid, with very good reason, to come forward for fear of retaliation.

Allowing years of erosion of failure to follow the Protective Covenant (PC), or change it as provided, takes its toll on individual homeowners and diminishes our property values.

For me, this is not about whether one likes or dislikes a particular architectural style, be it Latin inspired, California Ranch, Craftsman, Colonial Contemporary or any other. The question is: Do we adhere to the mandates/guidelines set-forth in the PC, which provides for a vote, if the community desires to change the PC, or do we willfully ignore the PC?

Good governance, oversight, transparency, trust, willingness to follow the PC and other governing documents, are easy slogans for campaigns. However, the real test is “walking the walk.” Sadly, examples of lack of following through with these types of campaign promises some by board members abound:

1. Watering down or, ignoring mandates/guidelines in our PC, or amending it by a community vote, as provided;

2. Allowing minutes of an official RSFA meeting to be changed, without immediate intervention by the board;

3. Not following a fair and transparent process regarding volunteer members;

4. Adopting a very important resolution, “in the dark of night” and then not publicizing it, wherein a non-resident was granted an “exemption” and allowed to fill a CDRC seat.

5. The board essentially forcing a CDRC member to resign in a big hurry, when no explanation as to why there was a need for removal to be accomplished virtually “overnight”;

6. Not giving effective notice of a very important community meeting. We all know what effective notice is: It comes from the RSFA in an RSFA envelope and the notice contained therein is on RSFA stationary; and

7. Lack of board and board liaison oversight, especially when alleged problems are taking place.

Such transgressions should not be tolerated by our board and our community.

When the Protective Covenant and “Rule of Law” are not followed fear, confusion and chaos ensue.

Lisa M. Bartlett

52-year association with the Covenant

Over 20-year member of the RSFA

Thank you

Taylor Swift may be over her squad, but I am only beginning to fully appreciate mine! With notice posted online only the Friday night before the Monday 8:30 a.m. RSFGC April Fool’s Day event recently making headline news in RSF, somehow my squad found out about it. They dropped everything, professional jobs, family obligations, yoga (!) to appear and stay for the entire event. Seriously, I want to publicly thank them for being there to bear witness and whoever contacted them. [Par. 69 of our Protective Covenant (“PC”) mandates “at least 15 days notice” for “a public hearing,”so weekend notice is obviously insufficient.]

Without my squad, I would have been alone facing seven (7) Board of Directors, mostly male golfers, seated adversarial style at a long table trailing off with a line of our seated staff at full pay. Also there, surprisingly, were my CDRC “colleagues,” who were scheduled for official site visits that morning along with a couple former jurors, none of whom refuted my testimony, but apparently came to make certain the board completed their demands.

Thank you to all the RSFA members and press who came in support of our Protective Covenant,

Jane van Praag

Former RSFA director and CDRC member

The outrageous treatment

of Jane van Praag

I take this opportunity to express my shock, dismay and concern at the incredibly rude and high-handed treatment that our Board of Directors (BOD) inflicted on Jane van Praag during their meeting of 4-1-19, which resulted in her forced resignation from the CDRC (formerly, “Art Jury.”)

First, a bit of background about myself, and why I have written this letter. My wife Lili and I have lived in the Covenant since 1994. I have been a member of the California State Bar since 1979, and although I am a retired attorney, I have maintained my active status, so that I can represent indigent members of our community and make court appearances on a pro bono basis. I was the chairman of the Board of Directors of “The World,” which is a privately owned residential ship and served on its board for three years. The point of all of this is that I know something about law and something about the operation of homeowner associations such as ours.

I have been fortunate to know Jane van Praag, her late husband Jack Halter, and their son for 20 years. Jane is a consummate professional with a kind and gentle soul, but as she expressed at the board’s April Fool’s Day meeting she’s “nobody’s fool.” Anyone who describes her as rude, offensive and obstructive, which is what our BOD did, either does not know her or has some unknown agenda.

When Jane became a member of the CDRC, she discovered wrongdoing by her committee and reported it to the BOD resulting in their Feb 7th Oversight Letter. In short, she “blew the whistle.” Her “reward” for her two years of volunteer work was a request she quietly resign from the committee leaving open false charges of “malfeasance” unrefuted. She refused to do that and, instead, insisted on a public hearing.

I will leave it to the reader to decide why the BOD was in such a hurry to ambush Jane as it did. As for Jane, I know why she subjected herself to this abuse: She wanted the community to know what’s going on and why nonconforming structures with different architecture are being built, why there are steep grades that seem out of place and why property values have plummeted. The old story that “some other committee approved something” is not the case here. This is going on right now.

In May, 2019, there will be an election for members of the Board of Directors. I believe that we need new directors who will protect the Protective Covenant, promote transparency and who will respect their neighbors in both the letter and spirit of the law.

Michael D. Myers

April 25:

Torn-up Covenant roads should be replaced with quiet asphalt

Now that the Rancho Santa Fe Association has torn up our roads with the questionably already outdated fiber program, we need to insist that they replace them using quiet asphalt. Quiet asphalt pavement can help reduce highway noise by as much as 7 decibels, according to a World Road Association-PIARC study. Reducing noise by just 3 decibels is equivalent to doubling the distance from the source of noise to the listener, according to Asphalt Pavement Alliance literature.

As a 26-year resident of RSF, I remember when we had very little road noise, now many of us hear road noise most of the day and night. Using quiet asphalt will cost about 25 percent more then standard asphalt but will go a long way to helping quiet our community. BTW, just repairing the torn-up roads is not an acceptable option, we deserve to have all the roads in the Covenant repaved.

I also hope that the Association will reach out to the wireless companies and encourage them to install 5G technology in our area. Having telephone poles we are a perfect fit for this alternative to the fiber being installed. 5G really is the future.

John Salazar

Rancho Santa Fe

The worth of a young mind

I’ve had the privilege to raise my three children in Rancho Santa Fe from 1999 to 2007 where they attended R. Roger Rowe School. The caliber of the town and school solidified our choice to live here and raise our family. Now I find myself teaching at our wonderful school, but I have concerns about the direction we are headed with regard to our school library.

When my children were young, we spent a great deal of time at our local library. Being a volunteer for 20 years at the library, I soon realized the amazing partnership we had with the school library, formerly known as the IMC (Interactive Media Center). Interactive was the appropriate name for it as one could always find students hanging out in there, regardless if it was their library time or not. This tradition continues on today in our elementary library as it is perceived as a safe haven to grab a book, solve a puzzle, or just a refuge to interact with friends.

Our librarian, Stacey Halboth, is an integral part in teaching library skills, suggesting a good read, and teaching public speaking. This starts in first grade and is continued in middle school and is a life skill where every child benefits. The thought of eliminating the librarian position and asking paraprofessionals to take over the reins is ludicrous. Would the county library hire unqualified people to run our local library? I think not. The Rancho Santa Fe community and school are expected to employ qualified personnel to oversee such an important job.

Many parents and schools often look to our reading scores to measure our child’s success yet how can we look the other way when it comes to reading and books? I recently attended the Middle School Speech Contest and walked away thoroughly impressed with the quality of the speeches and the caliber of our students. They have been groomed in public speaking since first grade! Ask the young man who is a Rancho graduate who now offers a scholarship to the speech winner why he feels compelled to do this. He was a former speech winner and spoke about what an impact it had on his life. Isn’t that worth keeping a qualified teacher to operate the library or is it all about dollars and cents?

I view our town library as the heart and soul of the community, as well as our school library being the heartbeat of our campus. Every one of our students passes through the library at some point and it represents an invaluable asset to our students’ expanding education. What is the worth of a child’s mind?

Mary E. Liu

Rancho Santa Fe