Rancho Santa Fe 2012: Year in Review

By Karen Billing

In this issue, we look back at RSF events in 2012 from January-December.


• Construction begins on the final phase of Fairbanks Ranch’s Gates and Road Improvement project. The four secondary gates underwent a renovation in 2011 but work on the two main entry gates began this year. The project involved two new guard houses at the main entrance, new entry monuments, signage enhancements and turn-out lanes onto San Dieguito Road. The project was completed in October.

• The Association pledges $170,000 toward work for the Osuna Property lot split — splitting off the 3.3 acres with a single-family home from the horse ranch area. Work for the lot split included the installation of a fire line, re-aligning the road and removing six trees. The funds were also for removing electrical wiring off the side of the historic Osuna adobe.

The board moves ahead with the sale of the house in March. It’s estimated the home could fetch anywhere from $1.8 million to $2.5 million.


• The Rancho Santa Fe community suffered a major loss with the passing of Dr. R. Roger Rowe. Rowe died on Feb. 4 at the age of 82. While Rowe’s impact is spread throughout the community, his legacy is most seen at the school that bears his name, where he spent 43 years as a teacher, principal and superintendent.

“Dr. Rowe’s lauds and accolades spanned a more than 50-year career but it is the numerous generations of students inspired by their time with him that was most precious,” said Superintendent Lindy Delaney. “Rowe’s legendary high standards for his teachers, administrators and students have cemented a legacy that will continue as long as there is a love for learning and teaching.”

Rowe was also a devoted Rotarian, a member of the group since 1962. A self-described “civic junkie,” Rowe was also on the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation board and very involved in the beginnings of the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society.

“Rancho Santa Fe was still a young developing community when Roger first joined us,” said Jim Ashcraft, RSF Fire Protection District board president. “His fingerprints are all over the good things that happened while he was here.”

• The Solana Beach School District named its new superintendent, Dr. Nancy Lynch. With more than 24 years of experience in education behind her, Lynch began her new post in April. Outgoing superintendent Leslie Fausset retired in March after 40 years in education and seven years leading the Solana Beach School District.

• An Association study concluded that there is not a parking shortage in the village but rather problems are caused when people don’t follow the timed parking rules, often staying well past the one- and two-hour limits.

The board voted to authorize the CHP to enforce the timed parking regulations in addition to its ongoing traffic enforcement duties. In March, the board heard that CHP had issued 28 parking citations and that spaces seemed to be freeing up more frequently.

• The Association takes a more aggressive stance about late assessment payments as a result of larger numbers of delinquencies than it has experienced in the past. Delinquent members see their membership privileges revoked and liens are now placed on properties when members are only one payment late rather than two.


• Rancho Santa Fe residents Sue and John Major were honored by Girl Scouts San Diego at its annual Promise Circle and Legacy Circle recognition event on March 14.

“The Majors are longtime supporters and great role models for the girls,” said Jo Dee Jacob, CEO of the Girl Scouts San Diego. “They’ve been very, very faithful with donating their time, talent and treasure.”

• The Association votes to loan the RSF Golf Club $1.6 million to pay off one of two loans taken to renovate the clubhouse in 2006. The board approved the loan and new terms of the note in a 5-2 vote on March 15, with directors Eamon Callahan and Dick Doughty voting against it.

• Mary Ann Tessary’s Happy Time Nursery School in Rancho Santa Fe turned 50 years old. Tessary, known fondly as “Big Teacher,” runs the preschool out of her home on Las Colinas and children ride ponies twice a week, enjoy high tea daily and learn all about kindness and love.

In 50 years, Tessary has never tired of her job and her young students.

“They’re just so full of enthusiasm and love,” said Tessary. “How many people get to go to work and have 10 ‘I love you’s’ and hugs and kisses? Not very many.”


• The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District’s new Fairbanks Ranch station opens.

• The RSF Golf Club welcomes new general manager Al Castro. Castro comes to Rancho Santa Fe after a 14-year career at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells.

• Escrow closed on the $28 million sale of the Rancho Santa Fe Inn on April 11. The new owners JMI Realty, owned by Rancho Santa Fe residents John Moores and John Kratzer, purchased the historic inn from the Royce family, who have owned it since 1958.

“We’re incredibly excited to be the new owners of The Inn of Rancho Santa Fe,” Kratzer said. “It’s a rare opportunity that your passion and profession bring you home and you’re able to work in your own backyard.”

Plans for The Inn’s $12 million renovation include a refresh of guest rooms and the pool area, a restaurant upgrade and a new spa. The renovation is expected to be complete by June 2013.


• San Diego County certified the EIR for the Whispering Palms mixed-use commercial and residential project, a plan that includes 54 apartments and 19,500 square feet of office and 9,500 square feet of retail on 4.3 acres on the corner of Via de la Valle and Concha de Golf.

The Whispering Palms Community Council continues to fight the project in court, objecting to its density and traffic impact.

•An early morning attic fire at a home on Mimosa Place on May 31 causes an estimated $800,000 worth of damage. Four people inside the home are able to safely escape, but the family dog was unable to get out and died.


• The Rancho Santa Fe School District goes the way of the iPad, approving a purchase off 52 iPads. The iPads would go into the hands of every student in the middle school level, with six per K-6 classroom and 10 iPads for special education.

• Rochelle Putnam and Craig McAllister join the RSF Association board, replacing outgoing members Dick Doughty and Jack Queen.

• The Rancho Santa Fe Community Center gets a new executive director, Linda Durket. Durket, a Carmel Valley resident with a background in marketing and advertising, was the center’s office manager for the last two and a half years.


• The annual Fourth of July parade rolled through the village.

• The Rancho Santa Fe School District board approved a new four-year contract for Superintendent Lindy Delaney at its July 5 meeting.

• Work begins on restoration of the Osuna Adobe. White stucco was removed from the structure exposing adobe bricks placed in its original 1880s construction.

• Amid rumors that the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club would sell its village clubhouse, a workshop was held on July 21 to discuss possible solutions for the facility which did not have enough money or volunteer manpower to manage it as needed.

Options on the table included selling the building, leasing unused time to an outside interest, or the club entering a partnership with another organization.

“It was never our intention to sell,” said board president Helen Dizio. “This is a very important part of our community, one of the best pieces of property, one of the best buildings and we want to make sure the community realizes that.”

The club board continues to work on a potential solution for the clubhouse.

• The San Dieguito Union School District board makes the decision to place a $449 million general obligation bond on the November ballot. Called Prop AA, the money from the bond would go to support upgrades in the district’s nine schools, such as a total renovation for Earl Warren Middle School and a new performing arts center and gym for Torrey Pines High School.

The bond passed in November.

• A bicyclist, 18-year-old Angel Bojorquez, was struck and killed in a hit-and-run on Via de la Valle in Rancho Santa Fe on his way home from work in Albertson’s on July 6. The driver, 19-year-old Jin Hyuk Byun, faces probation or up to four years in prison when he returns to the Vista courthouse on Jan. 3 to face felony hit-and-run charges.


• Helen Woodward Animal Center celebrates its 40th anniversary. Since being founded by Helen Whittier Woodward in 1972, the center has become one of the most respected animal facilities in the world and can boast more than seven million animals saved or assisted and over one million people served. In November, the center would welcome 45 dogs and cats orphaned by the devastating Hurricane Sandy in an effort to find them new forever homes.

• In the midst of the London 2012 Olympics and close to the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes, survivor Don Alon visited Rancho Santa Fe Chabad to share his story on Aug. 7. Alon told his story of survival after 11 Israeli athletes were taken hostage and killed by a Palestinian terrorist group called Black September.

“For 34 years, I kept silent,” said Alon. “I didn’t talk about it, not to the media, to the public or to my family or friends. I was very shy and I felt a coward that I escaped. And I was very angry.”

Alon only broke his silence after the 2005 Steven Spielberg movie “Munich” shed light on the Munich massacre and its aftermath.

• SDUHSD Superintendent Ken Noah responded to criticism the district faced on the proposal to place cell tower arrays on the Canyon Crest Academy campus.

“The buck stops here,” Noah said, confirming that cell sites at CCA are completely off the table.

District parents had issues with the district’s lack of communication regarding its plan and the safety of placing a cell tower on a school.


• Rancho Santa Fe celebrated its historic roots with a very successful Rancho Days, starting Sept. 28. There were high turnouts at the Osuna Open House, Rotary barbecue, Taco Fest, trail ride, RSF Fire Department’s pancake breakfast and the RSF Golf Club’s hoedown dance, to name just a few of the events.

Rancho Days was capped off with the RSF Tennis Club’s 50th Anniversary party.

• A renovation of the Rancho Santa Fe Riding Club began, including new paint on the clubhouse and barn exteriors, as well as several other aesthetic improvements to the 11-acre property on Rambla de las Flores.

• The Association voted unanimously to oppose a specific plan amendment for a housing development on a 5-acre parcel off Del Dios Highway. California West Communities’ proposal for 13 two-story homes on Del Dios and Bing Crosby Boulevard, called Crosby Enclave, was seen as being too dense and inconsistent with the community character of the corridor.

• The Association dealt with a Covenant violation issue with the gas station at the entrance of the village. Manager Pete Smith determined that the station was in violation of the regulatory code due to horse trailers and trailers stored for long periods of time in view from the street and adjacent residences.

The Association was able to work with the property manager to ensure some planting of additional screening.


•The Association redefined its 28-year-old open space policy and renamed it the Covenant Enhancement Policy and Fund. The policy and fund established a clear set of guidelines for boards making acquisition decisions in the future.

The redefined policy now allows for acquisition of several types of parcels including: critical parcels for open space; purchase of parcels to allow the removal of existing development; purchase of buildings, land easements or development rights to preserve community features, landscapes or historic resources; partnership acquisitions of open space parcels; purchase of parcels for recreational needs; and expenditure of funds to renovate, enhance or improve Covenant resources or safety.

•The Association and the RSF Foundation agreed to share the $24,720 costs of additional repairs on the Osuna Adobe after structural damage was uncovered during the concrete stucco removal project. After the repairs were made, the adobe resurfacing and whitewashing work was able to be completed.

• Construction begins on Plaza de Acacias, a new commercial center on the corner of El Tordo and Avenida de Acacias. The two-story, 6,170 square foot project with Lilian Rice-style architecture is expected to be complete by May 2013.

• The Rancho Valencia Resort completes a $30 million makeover, reopening on Oct. 19 with completely renovated rooms and entrance. The hotel also features a new restaurant, bar, high-end boutique and a yoga pavilion and expanded fitness center in their resort spa.

•October marked the five-year anniversary of the Witch Creek Fire blaze that came through the Covenant.


• A new playground arrives for Covenant kids, marking the end of a year-long process and the first successful efforts of many to get a community playground in place. Local mom Heather Slosar was the leader of the effort to get the playground, which was built at the Rancho Santa Fe ball fields by community members on Nov. 3.

“It feels great. There are a lot of people who really wanted this for our community for years,” Slosar said. “It just came down to the community and the Association really getting behind it. Everyone had a ‘We Can’ attitude.”

The Association held an opening ceremony on Nov. 17.

• The RSF School District celebrates its highest ever Academic Performance Index (API) scores. District-wide R. Roger Rowe School earned a score of 960, an increase of nine points over last year. The elementary school enjoyed a 13-point increase for a score of 963; the largest jump in scores since 2005. The middle school had a three-point gain to 954, making them the number two middle school in San Diego County.

• RSF School District Board President Jim Depolo leaves his position on the board after 10 years of service, always doing what he felt was “best for the kids.”

“It was a harder decision than I thought,” Depolo said of the choice not to run again. “I have put a lot of time and effort into the school and I like to think it is a better place in part because of my efforts.”

• Robert “Bud” Irvin also leaves his post on the Santa Fe Irrigation District Board after 15 years.

“A lot of people encouraged me not to retire but it’s time,” said Irvin, 76. “A person shouldn’t hog a position that long.”

In the Nov. 7 election, Greg Gruzdowich was elected to the Rancho Santa Fe seat on the SFID board.

• The RSF School Board election sees five people vying for three spots on the board. Incumbents Tyler Seltzer and Richard Burdge are elected, as is newcomer Todd Buchner.

Richard Leib and Julie Union were elected to the Solana Beach School District Board, and Joyce Dalessandro and Beth Hergesheimer were elected to the San Dieguito Union School District Board.

•The RSF Association hears about a proposal to bring a weekly farmers market to the village on Saturday mornings. The board said they would like to hear what the public thinks of the idea before approving it. Some early issues with village residents include concerns about parking and necessity.

• A wild house party on Los Morros in Rancho Santa Fe results in stabbings in the early morning hours of Nov. 24. San Diego Sherriffs Deputies arrived to find nearly 200 people at the scene — among them several intoxicated minors —and evidence of a bloody crime.


• The RSF Golf Club proposes the removal of a number of trees on the course in an effort to improve playability on the course. The Association’s Committee on Natural Environment (CONE) and the golf club agree that the process should involve a community-wide meeting on the issue. The meeting will be held on Jan. 22 at 4 p.m. at the club.