Letters to the Editor, Sept. 3, 2015 issue

Unraveling the truth about the Covenant Club project

For months now, a number of concerned RSF homeowners have been getting together to discuss the proposed Covenant Club.

Each of us would bring a different rumor to the table each time we met. We were all curious as to what had been happening in the months since the community narrowly approved spending $350,000 on a feasibility study.

So we decided to find out, to get involved, to dig out whatever information was available and to attend meetings that might be pertinent. We decided we should stay on top of what was actually happening rather than just fretting about what might be happening. And, especially, we wanted to stop getting all upset about rumors that nobody could verify.

So we formed the RSF Homeowners Group and developed a Mission Statement ... To Protect and Enhance the Rancho Santa Fe Way of Life ... which, as we found out later, is not that different from the Association Mission Statement.

We agreed on three primary objectives: 1. To ensure any pool/fitness concept is designed in keeping with the unique ambience of our community. 2. To protect RSFGC and RSFTC from any changes that might jeopardize their mission and vision. 3. To ensure that, in keeping with RSF precedent, any new club in Rancho Santa Fe, including the proposed pool/fitness concept, is paid for and financially sustained by its own membership.

As you can see, we primarily want to make sure we don’t lose Rancho Santa Fe while we go about saving it. We are asking other neighbors who feel as we do to join us.

You can become a supporter of the RSF Homeowners Group by going to our website at and signing up. We promise to keep you up-to-date because we believe an informed vote is a good vote.

Tom Ault

RSF Homeowners Group

Will the development model work for us?

A couple of years ago, Clubmark, a consulting firm hired by the Association, convinced the Association Board that building an expensive amenity for a younger demographic was the best way to market the Ranch. It would change our image, raise property values and attract people we are missing now. They told our Board that a small increase in the value of our homes could justify the very large cost of building a high-end pool/fitness center,

The Association was partially driven by a feeling at the time that the RSF Tennis Club and the RSF Golf Club were failing entities that needed change. Their idea was to consolidate them into a country club environment, with amenities that can compete with developments like Santaluz, Crosby, Fairbanks, and similar developments elsewhere, many of which are struggling right now. In essence, they believed that the development model, supported primarily by selling homes, would work for us.

As somebody who came here precisely because the Ranch wasn’t a country club development, and as a marketing guy who has seen so many businesses fail by alienating their own customers as they chase a new concept or a new demographic, I was skeptical but open to the idea.

I decided to participate fully in the process. I filled out a survey, attended presentations and focus groups, went to town hall meetings, and voiced my opinion. Through it all, the vision of a large facility between the golf club and tennis club stayed remarkably intact. It is now clear that the Association Board wants to build what was first proposed and no amount of input, competing priorities, drought or anything, is going to change their original vision.

Also, along the way, I think the Covenant Club has become a cause for a small but important segment of our homeowner population. They see it as greatly improving their lifestyle, by giving them their own place to go, and by attracting more people like them to the Ranch. I don’t fault them for their dream or their passion. I don’t even fault them for wanting the rest of us to contribute to that dream by paying for construction and assuming much of the risk for nonperformance.

I will, however, fault the rest of us if we fall for the seductive premise that there’s a need to save the Ranch by risking a big part of what brought us here in the first place. We are not a new development. We are an established and coveted community. Rebranding us at this point, especially in the way proposed, will be expensive and risky. Our lifestyles will be affected. So will our pocketbooks.

There must be a better way.

Bill Johnson

Where’s our reclaimed water?

I have read a lot lately about the water shortage here in California. I have been reducing my water usage and now my lawn is mostly brown and some of my orange trees are looking starved. I am seriously considering what to do next to save the rest of my plants and trees.

Meanwhile, I see a very green-looking golf course that continues to use potable water, the same stuff that comes out of our pipes and faucets. Really?

Other golf courses have long switched to reclaimed water — look at Lomas Santa Fe and Whispering Palms next door to us — why haven’t we? How about some of the large horse ranch properties with acres of grass — couldn’t they use some reclaimed water, too?

Reclaimed water is water that has been treated to a high level of purity (tertiary) and then returned to consumers through purple pipes for irrigation uses. Places all around us are using it, and unless all the treated wastewater available isn’t recycled, it goes out into the ocean through an outfall.

Now we are even treating seawater to be used as potable water through a desalination process in Carlsbad. How long are we going to keep our head in the sand before we find a doable solution to our water crisis and get some reclaimed water in purple pipes to Rancho Santa Fe?

If even just the Rancho Santa Golf Course used reclaimed water, wouldn’t that help all of us in our struggle to keep our properties green? Then consider the large tracts of land that could be served, the road right of ways, and public places — we would all benefit.

While we are all discussing recreational facilities, roundabouts, traffic signals, step-down housing and changes in the Village, let’s not forget about water and the lack thereof in RSF. This is something we all should agree on and be willing to invest in for our future needs in protecting our property values. We need a reliable water source to keep us all looking good, not just the golf course, and then, let’s hope, no more potable water rationing under threat of penalty.

Marion Dodson