Rancho Santa Fe Association board approves Osuna Ranch riding arena renovation


By Karen Billing


The Rancho Santa Fe Association board voted 4-1 Sept. 1 to approve a renovation of the Osuna Ranch’s riding arena, not to exceed $48,000. Larry Spitcaufsky issued the sole opposing vote, raising concerns about a warranty and some guarantee about annual maintenance costs from the bidder, California Custom Arenas.

Spitcaufsky drew on his knowledge going through similar arena upgrades with the Rancho Riding Club, where he serves as its board president.

“I’d make sure we knew the answers to those two questions before we approve it,” Spitcaufsky said. “ It can get out of hand if you don’t put it down right.”

While a warranty and maintenance costs were not known at the Sept. 1 meeting, it could be included in the final bid.

The arena at the ranch is in poor condition, with the sand breaking down, according to the report by Daria Quay, ranch manager. It has been five years since the arena was scraped, leveled and filled with new sand. Even though new sand has been added to the arena every year, “The sand is so old it turns to concrete when it gets wet and the drag teeth are penetrating the DG (decomposed granite) base and mixing with the sand so the base is also deteriorating,” Quay reported.

The renovation project would remove the top layer of sand, repair the base layer with three feet of DG and bring in new sand.

The discussion on improving the Osuna Ranch raised questions about the number of non-Covenant members who board at the facility, mainly due to the presence of Hap Hansen, the professional hunter, jumper and Grand Prix trainer.

Spitcaufsky said it was “ridiculous” that the Association should foot the entire bill for the improvements and that boarders should pay an assessment that could go toward these kinds of improvements. Board member Ann Boon agreed with the concept of boarders helping to pay maintenance costs.

“It sends a message that they’re sharing in our asset,” Boon said.

Boon suggested a future agenda item on the Osuna Ranch, regarding how to approach the future of the Ranch and look at possible strategies, as this $48,000 is not going to be the last capital expenditure for the property the board will be discussing.

“I think the board should be aware that the Osuna property is not the best location (for a horse facility) because it is so far away from the trails, it’s a very limited property. The rates are extremely high because of Hap Hansen,” Spitcaufsky said. “When we’re investing there we should be careful what we’re investing.”

Boon also proposed creating a new ad hoc committee to deal with these issues.