2013 in Rancho Santa Fe: A year in review, Part two


By Karen Billing

The Review looks back on news and events in Rancho Santa Fe in 2013. Last week we reviewed the first six months of 2013 (January — June). This week we review the last six months (July - December).


•Karl Mueller begins work July 1 as Canyon Crest Academy’s new principal, coming from Coronado High School.

•The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe opens its revamped restaurant, Morada. The new restaurant took over the old ballroom space, growing from about 130 to 260 seats spread among the scenic front patio, a luxe main dining area, inviting bar/lounge and private dining rooms.

The Inn also opens its new day spa in July; the 3,000-square -foot spa took over space that was formerly offices and three hotel rooms. It has its own private entrance behind the hotel lobby. Both updates were part of a $12 million renovation by JMI Realty, which purchased The Inn in 2012 for $28 million.

• Solana Santa Fe Principal Julie Norby is promoted to the position of director of instructional services for the Solana Beach School District. Her replacement is Stephan Bering, from the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District.

•Calls come for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to resign after multiple claims of sexual harassment from various women. Filner would resign in August, replaced by interim Mayor Todd Gloria.


•Horizon Prep becomes the only high school in Rancho Santa Fe. The private Christian school completed a major renovation to its campus on El Apajo, graduating from the charming green and white cottage portables of its old campus into the new campus of Santa Barbara-style buildings. In March, Horizon’s signature portables left the site for good as grading began on the next phase of the campus. Construction began by the end of the year on the last two classroom buildings.

• Rancho Santa Fe’s Cielo Village reinvents itself as an event center. It is the hope that the Italian-style village that has been largely vacant since it was completed nearly seven years ago will become a new spot for weddings, corporate events and catering. A renovation of the site included the creation of a new executive suite, chapel, ballroom, restaurant and café. The café, Cielo Bistro, is open to the public, serving coffee, breakfast and lunch.


• The Country Friends’ 58th annual Art of Fashion show was held on Sept. 19, featuring an after party with the event’s first beer garden. All proceeds from the event benefited 30 local charities such as the Burn Institute, Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center and YWCA’s Becky’s House for victims of domestic abuse.

• The Rancho Santa Fe Foundation launches The Patriots Initiative (TPI), a military program formerly known as The Armed Forces Interest Group. TPI will focus on identifying the most promising and most productive charitable agencies that help enlisted military personnel, wounded warriors and their families.

“The RSF Foundation has been actively engaged with this philanthropy for years, and saw the need to simplify this process for inspired donors who want their gifts to be truly meaningful,” said Christy Wilson, RSF Foundation executive director.

• The Santa Fe Irrigation District holds a workshop to discuss merging with an adjacent water district to save money. An ad-hoc committee is formed to explore consolidation and meetings are scheduled with the San Dieguito Water District and Olivenhain Municipal Water District. In November, the water board learned that San Dieguito is not interested in a merger at this time, while Olivenhain is open to the full range of potential collaboration, from a merger to partnerships on specific projects.

•Canyon Crest Academy dedicates its new track and athletic field, SDUHSD’s first major project completed with Proposition AA funds. In October, work begins on new baseball and softball fields, lacrosse and soccer fields, concession stands and the school’s brand new stadium, to be finished in time for the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. Altogether, the improvements represent a $20 million undertaking.


•RSF School District earns its highest district Academic Performance Index (API) score in a year in which 82 percent of San Diego school districts saw drops in their API results. For 2012-13, RSF had a district-wide API of 957 which, although it represents a three-point drop, places them ahead of neighboring Del Mar Union School District’s API of 954 and Solana Beach School District’s 936.

The elementary school’s API dropped six points, coming off a 13-point growth in 2011-12. The middle school, however, scored its highest API ever with a 957.

• The RSF Association received the results of the Club Mark survey conducted earlier in 2013, which aimed to measure demographics and opinions of the RSF Covenant and RSF Golf Club, and help both develop a road map for the future.

The main strategic implications from the survey were that 29 percent of the demographic is over 70 years old, and in 10 years or less 61 percent will be over 70; there is a decline in golf membership (from a peak of 680, it is now down to 512) and a decline in capture rate for new members. The survey also showed that younger members of the community want lifestyle amenities at the RSF Golf Club, such as a fitness center, spa or pool.


• The RSF Association board votes to change the Art Jury name to the Covenant Design Review Committee to help soften its image and give it a more modern name. The Art Jury (and its name) was established in 1927, overseeing building, landscaping and grading permits, and sticking closely to the Rancho Santa Fe Protective Covenant’s bylaws, regulations and guidelines. Those regulations will remain the same.

• The RSF School District board approved a proposal from Public Policy Strategies to gather feedback on the possibility of building a new school gym, making room for additional courts and space for wrestling and dance programs. A new facility, depending on how big it is, would cost about $10-15 million, or $20 million for a more elaborate design. A district-wide survey would help gauge interest and whether a general obligation bond to help pay for the construction would be feasible.

• Planning for a farmers market on La Gracia and in the village park hit a roadblock when the RSF Association found out that a market would not be a permitted use in the park.

The board asked Janet Lawless Christ to come back with an alternative location, such as Avenida de Acacias, but they learned in December that the market would conflict with the Secret Car Club that meets there on weekends. Yet another location and logistical concerns need to be worked out before the RSF Association would approve the market.

• The RSF Senior Center celebrated 25 years of service to the community. The RSF Senior Center had humble beginnings —starting in 1988 at a metal desk in the corner of the Rancho Santa Fe Library. By 2000, the Senior Center had outgrown its space in the basement of the library and through donations were able to purchase its current Lilian Rice-designed home, the Colley-Hilton House on La Gracia in 2002.

• The RSF Association board went from its traditional twice-monthly meeting schedule to just once a month. The decision was made due to the recent limited agendas and the time required for staff to prepare for each meeting. The board reserved the right to hold a second meeting when necessary.

• As 12 organized bicycle events came through the Ranch this year, including close to 800 bicyclists in April’s Tour de Cure race, the RSF Association contacted the county to have more advance notice of events, and more input on potential routes for participants’ safety and to limit impacts on residents. In November, the county held a meeting with race organizers and RSF Association representatives with the goal of improving the planning and notification process.


• The Patriots Initiative released The Directory, a “milestone event for philanthropic donors that changes the way charitable support will be directed to assist America’s armed forces members.”

The Patriots Initiative is The Rancho Santa Fe Foundation’s focused outreach program for inspired giving by its donors supporting American armed forces’ needs. It has established itself since 2008 as a recognized clearinghouse for knowledge, facts and philanthropic resources supporting the nation’s military families and veterans, alike. Reflecting the dynamic nature of this field of interest, TPI will routinely update The Directory as new programs and unique causes arise locally, regionally and nationally, or as agency reevaluations need to occur.

To see The Directory and to learn more about The Patriots Initiative, visit the website or call (858) 756-0358. Follow TPI on Facebook at on Twitter at and on Pinterest at

• The RSF Association discusses the possibility of changing the RSF Golf Club and voting membership rights for condo owners. Currently, there are two voting and Golf Club memberships allowed per condo development. There are 82 units in the Covenant and 34 have voting rights. Of the 34 condo owners who are eligible for Golf Club memberships, 18 have them currently. The change would require a modification of the RSF Association’s Articles of Incorporation and would be subject to a member vote.

•The RSF Fire Protection District names engineer Nick Brandow the “Firefighter of the Year.” Brandow has been with the district since 2004 and serves on the Emergency Medical Services Committee and the RSF Firefighters Association’s executive board.