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Concerns voiced over anti-Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club purchase mailer at Rancho Santa Fe Association board meeting

By Karen Billing

Rancho Santa Fe Covenant residents recently received a packet at their home sent through FedEx from a group opposed to the RSF Association’s purchase of the RSF Garden Club sale. The literature inside has sparked some concerns.

“You all got 11 pages full of lies,” said RSF Garden Club President Helen DiZio during public comment at the RSF Association’s April 17 meeting.

DiZio said she was very upset and disappointed that RSF Association Director Craig McAllister had signed his name to a list of signatures urging a “no” vote in the packet.

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“Where are the ethics for board members? And how can you sit up there and know you’re misleading the community and saying you’re not against the purchase and ‘we just want a vote?’” DiZio said.

DiZio emailed McAllister on the issue last week, asking how he could sign onto a packet full of inaccuracies and alleged that McAllister admitted there was information that was incorrect.

McAllister acknowledged that he signed the letter, and said that he was sorry to have disappointed DiZio and that he had indeed changed his mind.

In e-mails to DiZio, McAllister said that he took issue with the fact that the RSF Garden Club could leave the building by giving two years notice, but the RSF Association doesn’t have the same exit option.

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“I would not personally make this purchase with my own money because of this inequity and the attendant potential encumbrance and I decided I could not recommend others to make the purchase with the Association’s money,” McAllister wrote in his e-mail to DiZio.

He did not agree with DiZio that he signed a packet with “a lot” of inaccuracies.

“Yes, I mentioned that I felt there were inaccuracies. These were specific to the pool comment,” McAllister explained. “While the statement of that flyer regarding the pool appears to be factually correct — that the Association does not have sufficient funds to build a pool and fitness center at the same time — the pool committee is still exploring other ways to approach financing of the pool that could possibly allow for both to be done at the same time and I felt that the statement was incomplete.”

RSF resident Deb Plummer also said she was disappointed to see McAllister’s signature and also by the fact that the packages were delivered to their doorsteps via FedEx.

Plummer said there is a process in the RSF Association where members do not have to give their addresses if they don’t want to. She said McAllister’s signature was “unbelievable” given that the package was sent to their supposedly protected addresses and, additionally, that the packet sent people to a non-Association website to register to vote.

RSF Association Director Larry Spitcaufsky also took offense to the mailer’s allegation that the purchase of the club had been “cloaked in secrecy” and that the deal wasn’t properly vetted.

He said the numbers were looked at numerous times and he can’t recall a meeting that went by over the last two years without a “very long discussion” about the finances of the RSF Garden Club and the operating costs.

Spitcaufsky said that the property price was determined by two independent appraisals at its current zoning and the average was taken. He said he’s never seen a group of people work this hard to analyze a building purchase.

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“Don’t say it wasn’t vetted, that is ludicrous to me,” Spitcaufsky said. “No one wants to lie to you or deceive you. If you have questions, get the facts first. We represent you whether you vote for something or vote against something, but get the facts first.”

RSF Association President Philip Wilkinson said Spitcaufsky’s point was well-taken.

“It was vetted, it was beaten to death,” he said.

RSF resident Lisa Bartlett argued that she had looked at board agendas and had not found the RSF Garden Club purchase listed formerly on any of them.

“Many members don’t understand why it was discussed at an executive level,” acknowledged RSF Association Director Ann Boon, noting that it lent to some of the misperceptions about what happened in those meetings.

Several residents remarked at the April 17 meeting that this process has brought out some ugly behavior in the community.

“There are so many things going on in this community that are unfair, unethical and really not Rancho Santa Fe,” DiZio said. “I’ve never seen it before…I hope we get through it really quickly.”

“Unfortunately, in these environments, not all information gets out in an appropriate manner,” echoed resident Ken Markstein. “Let’s respect each other and not get into constantly battling whose opinion is 100 percent accurate. The personal shots at individuals and constant jabs and anger prolongs the whole process...”

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