Art Jury Corner: Driveway gates

Rancho Santa Fe Art Jury

One of the frequent jobs of the Art Jury is to make decisions regarding driveway gates. Hopefully the following article will explain why the design and placement of driveway gates is so important to Rancho Santa Fe’s character.

The Art Jury’s primary intent in reviewing projects is to maintain what the Protective Covenant refers to as the “rare quality” of Rancho Santa Fe’s “landscape, trees and shrubs … .” A special part of Rancho Santa Fe’s landscape is its rural character created by the informal landscaping and a country lane feel. The community is experienced to a large degree by driving through it, so entry features visible from the road will naturally affect the character of the community. The enjoyable Rancho Santa Fe character is based on a feeling of natural open spaces, and undeveloped countryside with a low density of homes. A contributing factor to the open feel of Rancho Santa Fe is the fact that many of the homes are well hidden, thus creating a more rural feeling than is sometimes really the case elsewhere.

Additionally, properties tend not to be distinctly divided with clear boundaries. The landscaping from one property often blends with the next to create the impression of homes set in a very large landscape as opposed to individual lots. A large number of prominent driveway gates erode the perception of rural character. Gates not only introduce man-made elements along the road but also accentuate the number of driveways leading to homes which may otherwise be unseen.

The Art Jury therefore encourages gates which maintain and reinforce Rancho Santa Fe’s character by being visually unobtrusive. This is achieved through proper siting, low scale, and the use of rustic materials and subdued colors. The resulting design should be restrained and not visually prominent, gates should not incorporate features that would be inherently eye-catching. To help maintain this rural feel, the Art Jury will often request that gates and pilasters be reduced in size and height or be moved further back from the street. By making such changes the Art Jury can still approve gates while maintaining the community’s appearance.

Due to the increased amount of development in Rancho Santa Fe, the Art Jury is faced with more gate requests. In the past, driveways with a gate were often the exception and most properties didn’t have them, so the relatively small number of gates didn’t interfere with the undeveloped character of the community. Today, as more homes are being built, enlarged and remodeled, an entry gate is usually part of the overall design package and the number of properties with gates has increased dramatically. The Art Jury is working hard to meet the needs of homeowners without compromising the landscape quality of Rancho Santa Fe which is so valuable to all of its residents.

If you have any questions about gates, please call the Association at (858) 756-1174 and ask to speak with one of its planners.

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