Five Rancho Santa Fe stories to watch in 2012

By Karen Billing

Below are just a few of the many possible RSF stories to watch in 2012.

Plaza de Acacias

The Rancho Santa Fe village’s first new commercial building in several years could be built in 2012. Plaza de Acacias, planned for the corner of El Tordo and Avenida de Acacias, has already been approved by the Art Jury and RSF Association and is just waiting on a few county approvals.

“We plan to start construction in May or June of 2012 and will be complete by December,” said developer Mike Grehl, a Rancho Santa Fe native and graduate of R. Roger Rowe and Torrey Pines High School.

The building is much smaller than past proposals to the site, such as the controversial Lilian. While the Lilian’s plans included over 23,000 square feet of commercial and housing use in addition to an underground parking facility, Plaza de Acacias is only 6,170 square feet, leaving the current parking lot intact.

Plaza de Acacias will have no residential element, just commercial, and utilize the 68 parking spaces adjacent to its site behind Wells Fargo and Union Bank.

The architecture will be a mix of single and two story elements with archways, stucco detailing and wrought iron features.

“It’s my strong belief that it’s going to look like it’s always been there,” Grehl said.

A potential playground for Covenant kids?

Rancho Santa Fe mom Heather Slosar tried to get a playground placed on the Association-owned Arroyo property in 2011, but the RSF Association wasn’t convinced that the open space was the most appropriate location. The board approved a $25,000 expenditure for play equipment and charged the trails and recreation committee and Association staff to come up with an alternate location.

A playground has been pitched several times before over the last eight years, although it often gets lost in “NIMBY”-ism (not in my backyard) — one of the main reasons Slosar picked Arroyo was that it is located outside the Covenant and not subject to the neighbor approval vote requirement.

“Staff is working to locate a site closer to the center of the community,” said RSF Association Manager Pete Smith. “At this point we have some options but nothing concrete.”

Smith said they hope to bring some playground options before the board at a January or February board meeting.

New RSF Fire station

Anyone who has traveled down El Apajo has had a chance to see the impressive new Fairbanks Ranch fire station being built. The old station, built in 1983, was torn down in February 2010 as it needed to be rebuilt to meet earthquake standards.

Where the old station was a one story, 3,500 square foot building with only one driveway, the new facility is two stories and 10,000 square feet with two driveways for easier access. The building itself is beautiful, with stone facades and glass and wood engine bay doors.

The tentative completion date is January 30.

Leadership at RSF Golf Club and Solana Beach School District

With Superintendent Leslie Fausset’s impending retirement, the Solana Beach School District is in search of a new leader. Fausset has led the district, which includes Solana Santa Fe in Rancho Santa Fe, for the last six years. The board of trustees is continuing on in its search and Faussett has said she will stay on until the new superintendent is hired. The board took a break for winter but will pick up the search again in January.

The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club is also looking for someone to take charge as the new general manager after Steve Nordstrom resigned in October. Association Manager Pete Smith is serving as the interim general manager and a search firm continues to look for a permanent replacement.

Jennie Frager

This 6-foot-6 Torrey Pines High volleyball player has already committed to play at UCLA in 2013.

“She’s one of my favorite kids of all time,” said Jud Buechler, Jennie’s coach on her Wave volleyball squad.

Buechler said Jennie stands out most obviously because of her size, but it’s also how she’s able to use it — she’s extremely athletic and moves well.

Buechler, who has coached Jennie for five years, said it didn’t always come easy for her. She had to grow into her size and work a little harder to become a better player. It meant not getting much playing time when she was younger.

“The real gem in this whole thing is that she’s so grounded by her incredible parents. Nobody ever complained that she wasn’t playing, they believed in what I was doing, they were patient,” Buechler said.

Working hard on her passing skills, hitting and blocking made the difference and when Jennie was 15 she completely dominated, becoming the best middle blocker in all of Southern California, earning first team All American honors and catching the attention of UCLA, which offered her a full-ride scholarship.

An ankle sprain and a torn elbow tendon kept her out for much of her 2011 Wave and junior TPHS season, but Buechler has confidence she’ll be ready to strike in 2012, when she’ll help defend the team’s 2011 CIF championship.

“It’s just one of those all-time feel good stories,” said Buechler. “A tall girl, kinda awkward, grows into her body, works hard, doesn’t complain and gets rewarded at the end.”

Besides Jennie, Torrey Pines is churning out tons of volleyball talent: Gigi Cresto will play at Utah in 2012; Karly Drolson at UCLA; and junior Maddy Kerr has also already committed for 2013 to play at UC Berkeley. Additionally, Jennie’s Wave teammate, Katelyn Cuff, who plays high school volleyball for Santa Fe Christian, has already committed to Colorado for 2013.