Art Jury mediation process working, Rancho Santa Fe Association board told

By Karen Billing

The Rancho Santa Fe Association board received a report on the Art Jury’s mediation process for project appeals at its July 5 meeting, learning that the process is quite successful. Since 2000, the Art Jury has had 160 mediations on appeals to Art Jury decisions and only three of them have made it to the board level. There were only two mediations last year.

Applicants have the ability to appeal an Art Jury decision within 30 days, but they first must go through the mediation step and the Art Jury has been able to resolve many of the issues, said Robert Green, RSF Association building commissioner.

The five-member Art Jury is responsible for upholding the Covenant and regulatory codes and is an organization that has been in place since 1928. It is an advisory committee to the RSF Association board for residential and commercial projects, subdivisions and commercial signs, seeking to maintain an “artistic quality” desired in the Ranch as outlined by the Covenant.

“The Covenant is extremely comprehensive, extremely advanced in its structure and leaves flexibility and judgment to a democratic process,” said Green. “It’s a great document.”

The Art Jury application process is kept “pretty tight,” according to Green, noting that once an application is complete it is guaranteed to be on the agenda of one of the Art Jury’s twice monthly meetings. The process is loaded at the beginning to give every detail an airing.

The addition of story poles about six years ago has become a very helpful tool for the Art Jury and the applicant, Green said. The poles allow people to physically see what something will look like in height and scale and Green said sometimes applicants even scale things back voluntarily when they see how big a structure will actually be.

Green said there is a misconception about the Art Jury that they just “deny everything” but that is not the case. In 2011, 162 applications were approved the first time, 39 applications were approved after one revision, 12 were approved after two revisions and 10 were denied.

“I think (the Art Jury) process is the envy of many communities,” said Green. “Many communities want to have a process like Rancho Santa Fe’s but for many it’s too late to go back.”

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