By Karen Billing
All Rancho Santa Fe Covenant condominium owners are free to swing away as the RSF Association board voted 7-0 on April 17 in favor of granting condominium owners RSF Golf Club membership rights.
The RSF Association board had believed that a community-wide vote would be required to change the club membership rights of condominium owners but, upon review by staff and counsel, it was determined that the rights could be granted by simply amending the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), essentially the contract between the RSF Association and the RSF Golf Club.
“We have a limited footprint of which to draw from and anything to increase that footprint will help with the membership,” said RSF Golf Club Board President Mike Phillips. “It’s a matter of equity. This is a common-sense solution to something that’s been kind of a thorn in the side for folks for a long time.”
“It’s not just that the RSF Golf Club is asking to drive more membership,” said RSF Association President Philip Wilkinson. “I think fundamentally it’s the right thing to do. If you pay an assessment, you should be able to join the Golf Club and you should have the right to vote.”
The board’s action on April 17 did not give condominium owners the right to vote. Establishing voter rights for all condominium owners is a separate issue and would require an amendment to the articles of incorporation and the bylaws through a vote of the membership.
Currently, there are 19 condominium developments in the Covenant with 88 total units. Of the 88 units, 38 have voting and golf rights, and 23 condo residents have golf memberships.
RSF Association members Dick Doughty and John Ingalls said they did not feel the Association board’s actions were correct in amending the MOU, and that the matter should have gone to a community-wide vote.
Ingalls said that at the RSF Association’s April 3 meeting there was a lot of discussion about the high “take rate” among condominium owners, given the fact that 23 of 38 condominium owners eligible for Golf Club memberships are members of the club, a higher rate than the Covenant as a whole.
Phillips said that he doesn’t think that the Golf Club is going to experience a “windfall” of memberships by granting condominium owners membership rights immediately, but as condominiums turn over the amendment creates an opportunity to give added value to those properties and grow the club’s memberships in the future.
RSF Association Board Director Rochelle Putnam agreed that this was really a longer-term strategy to build a healthier Golf Club membership.
There was a question from resident as to whether a renter of a condominium could get a Golf Club membership. Golf Club Manager Al Castro said that memberships are only entitled to people who have a minimum of 34 percent ownership on the property. A condominium owner can designate a renter a social fee membership for dining use of the Golf Club only, Castro said.