By Karen Billing
The Rancho Santa Fe Association is trying to resolve a Covenant violation issue with the gas station at the entrance of the village and held a hearing with gas station representative Mark Rababy at the Association board’s Sept. 20 meeting. RSF Association Manager Pete Smith made the determination that the station was in violation of the regulatory code that states that no vehicle, such as horse trailers, shall be stored when in view from the street or other residences. Trailers have been observed parked for long periods of times in the lot adjacent to the station.
Typically such hearings are held in closed executive session, but Rababy requested it be held in open session.
Rababy and Smith had differing opinions on what constituted “storage.”
“I feel like I’m being harassed by this board,” Rababy said, who noted that the trailers are there for repairs, awaiting estimates or parts. “All of those vehicles are not storage.”
Smith restated that he believed it was a storage issue, that it was a violation of the “spirit and intent” of the regulatory code as one of the vehicles was there for 30 days. He said the property needs to be screened if vehicles are being stored there.
“A lot of complaints are generated by the community, they’re not generated from the board or staff,” said Arnold Keene, field operations manager in response to Rababy’s harassment claim.
The Association received several complaints from neighbors regarding vehicle storage on the lot behind the station, beginning last September, according to the Association staff. In November, the vehicles were removed but in observing the property, staff noticed the two trailers had returned, being stored there for a long duration.
“We’ve had prior issues with Mark and there has been a lot of compliance. The property does look a lot better than it has in the past,” Keene said.
The board agreed that the problem might be resolved by some additional screening. Keene said the Association has done some supplemental landscaping around the property in a limited area. Rababy said it has grown in nicely.
“All we’re doing is poking at each other, we should try to come up with a resolution that solves the problem and screening does sound like a way of doing things,” Director Eamon Callahan said.
Rababy said he would be more than happy to talk about more screening as long as it is reasonable.
Director Larry Spitcaufsky wondered if the real issue was the length of time the vehicles are parked on the property and how they could handle it. In asking Rababy how long repair vehicles are typically parked there, Rababy said trailers usually don’t stay for more than three weeks but they did have one car there for seven months waiting for a part.
Spitcaufksy said if a car is going to be there for seven months maybe the owner should take it home while waiting for parts. Director Callahan said he wasn’t comfortable with telling the business how long a vehicle could be on its property.
While the board had the option of imposing a special assessment of $630 or suspending membership privileges, the board agreed to work with Rababy on the issue.
“This is a good neighbor effort that needs to be made here,” said Vice President Anne Feighner.
“We’ve done a lot to be good neighbors and we’ve gotten very little back,” Rababy said, adding he does not feel the Association supports his business, does not purchase gas at his station or use his repair shop for RSF Patrol vehicles, opting instead to take the cars out of the community.
The board could not discuss his claims at that time because it was not agendized, but may put the matter on the agenda for a future meeting.