By Karen Billing
Rancho Santa Fe Association Manager Pete Smith has announced his decision to retire, ending a 23-year run in the Covenant. Smith, who has been on sick leave recently, announced he is stepping away at the April 17 Alumni Dinner, in front of about 50 current and former Association directors and Covenant Design Review Committee members.
“I told them I accepted a new position,” Smith said. “It’s full time and the pay is not as good, but the benefits are very good and my new title is Grandpa.”
All jokes aside, Smith said that he would miss the community of Rancho Santa Fe.
“It never was dull. There was always something going on,” Smith said. “Whenever the phone rang you never knew what it was going to be, that was always an exciting part of the job.”
Smith has been the manager of the Association for a little over 18 years, prior to that he spent five years as the manager of the RSF Golf Club.
“It was a very, very hard decision to leave,” Smith said. “During my time in Rancho Santa Fe I developed a really good rapport with a lot of the members and they really became friends.”
Several of the staff members have also worked alongside Smith for as many years—administrative assistant Nadine Garcia was his food and beverage manager at the Golf Club when he started 23 years ago, RSF Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser was working in RSF at that time, as was secretary Daria Quay.
“The Association staff members are great, great people,” Smith said.
Smith leaves the Association while many different issues are playing out, such as the Garden Club purchase vote, the upcoming board of directors election, and the potential for a new pool and fitness center.
“The Association has and will always go through different cycles, but what you really have is a large group of people that truly love their community,” Smith said. “My hope is that there’s always room for open conversation on all issues, that’s what makes it such a good community. Having a lot of discussion and debates is a real positive and far more gets done when people are civil as opposed to being not civil. It’s just so counterproductive to not sit down and have an open and honest conversation. Everyone here wants the best for the community.”
In his retirement, don’t expect Smith to sit around at home.
An accomplished runner, he is currently training with his daughter to run the America’s Finest City Half Marathon in August and will spend some time learning how to swim to compete in the Carlsbad Triathlon this summer. Smith will also do his annual rim-to-rim hiking trip of the Grand Canyon next month, with several Association members joining him.
In this week’s RSF Association President’s Corner (see page A4), RSF Association Board President Philip Wilkinson said “On behalf of the Association membership, the board and the staff would like to thank Pete for his many contributions over the past 20 years. He will be greatly missed.”