Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club property sale to Rancho Santa Fe Association: Why is this happening?


First off, I have to ask why this is happening? The RSF Garden Club property was donated and it is free and clear, they have a half-million dollars in the bank, and suddenly there seems to be a rush to sell the property, lease back the space for the Shoppe and get 15 days a year to operate events for some undetermined amount of term, set up an endowment with the sale proceeds and then distribute the earnings each year to other local charities. Sounds like the end of the Garden Club to me.

Why not just lease the facility to the RSF Association or someone else who wants to manage the property for 350 days a year; the Garden Club would keep title to the property and use the rents to help pay for the expenses of maintaining the property along with the proceeds from the Shoppe and any other events for the 15 days they requested? A boost to their membership would help too.

The details of the agreement between the RSF Association and the Garden Club are still largely unknown except to know that the lease requested by the Garden Club for 15 days of use in perpetuity was nixed and a new deal was recently signed by both board presidents that doesn’t define any lease term for the 15 days of annual use requested for office space upstairs except to say it is for $1 per year. The Shoppe space and the garage will have a 10- year lease at some undisclosed amount payable in advance each year with details on renewal and cancellation of the lease with penalty.

This is what you get for selling the building, the sole tangible asset of the Garden Club. The proceeds from the $2.4 million sale are to be given to the RSF Foundation for an endowment as requested by the RSF Association and then they want to help distribute the annual funds from the endowment to other local charities. Can anybody else make sense of all this?

The sole property asset is gone and now you’re a tenant for 15 days a year upstairs and market rents for the Shoppe and garage downstairs, and all future Garden Club use of the property will be subject to change by mutual agreement between the RSF Association and the Garden Club. If the Garden Club board is not in agreement with the changes in use of the building/property, the RSF Association board will seek a vote of the RSF Association membership and both boards will abide by the simple majority of the voting membership. Good luck on that one.

Again, why is this all happening? If the volunteers are tired of running the Club, hire a development person to run it. Just renting out the parking spaces at the rear of the property would probably pay for that. If the RSF Association wants the space and usage so badly, let them lease it for awhile and see how that works out. The current “agreements” are certainly not in the best interest of the Garden Club who end up with no building, no property, no endowment income and very limited use on undetermined leases.

Marion Dodson

Member of the RSF Garden Club and RSF Association