Once again we are being asked to vote on the sale of the RSF Garden Club building to the RSF Association. Like many others I’ve talked to in the community, I didn’t fully understand the nuances of the deal when I last voted but I trusted our Rancho Santa Fe leadership enough to support it. Now that this transaction has become as controversial as it has, I decided to try to understand it better before I vote again. This is what I have learned:
- As an important, strategically located, community asset, the building (and its parking lot) would be more appropriately managed by the Association than Garden Club volunteers. Most understand that. The question is how to make it happen.
- As a non-profit charitable organization the Garden Club can only transfer the property to the Association at fair market value, and two independent valuations have pegged that at about $2.4 million.
- Under the negotiated deal, the proceeds of the sale will go into a separate community enhancement fund, administered by a five-member committee of Garden Club, Association, and Foundation board members. This fund will be for the express purpose of beautification and conservation of our community and its assets. (Like developing our own water sources, as an example, which I consider quite important.)
- The money that goes into this Garden Club fund will come from the Community Enhancement Fund of our Association, which currently has over $5 million in it and grows at about $1 million per year. Obviously, there will be ample money available for other community improvement projects in the future, no matter what happens with the building. (Think spa or pool or both, if that is something you support.)
- If this transaction doesn’t happen, the Garden Club will sell the building, land, and parking lot to the highest bidder, with minimal community control over its use.
- The Association finance committee has conservatively estimated the management costs of the building at $80,000, which will be more than offset by current revenues. Also, a reserve of $300,000 will be established at the outset for future maintenance.
I voted for this transaction the first time because I trusted that our leadership had thoroughly vetted it. Now I know they have and I will vote for it again. I hope you will join me.
Rancho Santa Fe