By Karen Billing
The Rancho Santa Fe Association board is looking into the possibility of changing the RSF Golf Club and voting membership rights for condominium owners. The change would require a modification of the Association’s Articles of Incorporation and would be subject to a member vote.
The issue will come back before the board in January for more community input as well as to discuss the potential and schedule of a Covenant-wide vote.
The RSF Association and RSF Golf Club’s interest in changing the membership rights was bolstered by the recent Club Mark survey showed that 81 percent of respondents would be in favor of making Golf Club memberships available to condo owners.
In the past, the RSF Golf Club board had objected to condo memberships to avoid heavy course use. But more clubs have opened around the Ranch, which has spread out play, and in the past years club memberships have dipped and play is down.
“The RSF Golf Club is very much in favor of revisiting this issue,” RSF Association Manager Pete Smith said.
RSF Association Director Craig McAllister noted that the survey asked if people would be in favor of golf memberships for condo owners, not voting rights. The issue of granting the condos voting rights is a “whole different animal,” McAllister said, and one that he was not particularly in favor of.
Currently, there are two voting and RSF Golf Club memberships allowed per condominium development.
“If you live in the condos now you pay full assessments and have access to every amenity but the RSF Golf Club,” Smith said.
All condo owners can join the RSF Tennis Club, are able to use the RSF Golf Club dining facilities and RSF Association trails and open space, but they cannot vote or serve on RSF Association committees. RSF Association Director Heather Slosar said it’s a bit like “taxation without representation.”
There are 16 sub associations within the Covenant totaling 82 units — 34 have voting rights and 48 do not. Of the 34 condo owners who are eligible for RSF Golf Club memberships, 18 have them currently.
Smith said that while less than 50 percent of Covenant homeowners who are eligible to be members of the RSF Golf Club are members, 50 percent of those who live in condominiums and are eligible to be RSF Golf Club members do have memberships.
There is some potential for future condo units as there are 11 existing multi-family units without a condo map and there are 17 acres currently zoned multi-family that have not been developed on Calzada del Bosque.
The board discussed how granting the condos the memberships would be a plus for homeowners looking to downsize without leaving the Covenant and, as director Larry Spitcaufsky noted, it would also be a plus for developers looking at property to sell condos.
One RSF resident, Dick Doughty, spoke up against the change.
“There’s a very fundamental issue here that is being ignored and should have prime consideration,” Doughty said. “This is about land use. The uniqueness of Rancho Santa Fe is the density of development. This opens up so much opportunity for parcels to be subdivided, it tends to tear at the fabric of the Covenant…the idea of making Rancho Santa Fe more dense is nonsense.”
RSF Association Director Jerry Yahr disagreed that the change would put pressure on development. He said while the change may be an enticement to developers, they would still be held to the same Covenant standards regarding density.
At the Dec. 5 meeting, the board also reviewed the RSF Golf Club’s former resident membership category. Approved in 2011, currently nonmembers are allowed to retain their membership status if they have lived in the Covenant for at least 10 years. The RSF Golf Club board had approached the RSF Association board about the possibility of changing the policy from 10 years to five years but the matter had since been taken off the table to focus on the condo issue.
The former resident category has proven to be a very successful with 28 members currently in that category, according to Al Castro, RSF Golf Club manager. Castro said the club plans to request a continuance for the category next year.