Five Rancho Santa Fe stories to watch in 2016

Better connectivity

Can you hear me now?

The RSF Association hopes to get to the goal line on its broadband project in 2016, selecting a vendor to build a fiber-optic network in the Covenant. Many frustrated residents have deemed connectivity as much of a necessity as electricity and indoor plumbing and the current Association board is committed to the “revolutionary” effort.

The fiber-optic network allows the Association to not be “held hostage” by any private carriers and by entering into a partnership model with the selected company they would have a co-investment in the network and be able to share returns.

By late 2015, the Association had narrowed it down to the final two vendors out of 11 received letters of intent for its broadband contract. The next steps will be to pick a vendor, negotiate a deal and write a contract. The hope is to begin rolling out the network within the next 12 months.

The Covenant Club

A Covenant-wide vote is coming this March for residents to decide whether or not the RSF Association should build the Covenant Club, a pool and health club facility.

The club has not been without its controversy: With a 49.7 percent response on its survey, the golf club’s membership voted 75 percent against locating the facility on its campus. Additionally, the Rancho Santa Fe Homeowners Group formed last year to ensure that the club is designed in keeping with the unique ambiance of the community and to ensure that financially the club makes sense and is sustainable.

In December, the design committee approved a schematic design for a 12,500-square- foot facility situated in between the RSF Tennis Club and the RSF Golf Club, with a 300-plus-stall parking lot.

The design includes a lap pool with pool-side cabanas, a children’s splash zone, a gym, studios for group exercise classes, a café that can serve Covenant Club users as well as tennis and golf club members and plenty of common lounge spaces.

Architects are now working on a full-scale 3-D model and a committee is working on the cost-estimates and financing in the hope that all Rancho Santa Fe residents will be fully informed when it comes time for the vote.

The Village and its vibe

In 2015, the Rancho Santa Fe village was described as a “ghost town”— “dwindling” and “diminishing” and “dying.” A lack of parking was also once again a major issue for the remaining business owners.

2016 could be brimming with possibility: The Delicias restaurant space is vacant, the old nursery building is up for sale with potential for redevelopment, plans are being considered to fill the former Village Market space as well as to redevelop the gas station into a mixed-use project. The RSF Association has put the Village Revitalization Task Force to work to come up with long-term solutions and, on the weekends, the Village Vibe committee is doing its part to get residents to come to town with “fun, inclusive gatherings.”

More red curbs were also approved by the RSF Association last year and the new timed-parking spaces could help free up room for more to visit village businesses in 2016.

The right to vote

Could 2016 be the year that condo owners in the Covenant get the right to vote? That all depends…on a vote.

Last year the RSF Association began the process of potentially amending its bylaws and articles of incorporation. A six-member committee looked at how to make the voting process more equitable to all homeowners and hosted a town hall meeting in late fall to discuss the amendments.

A 2005 governance committee made a similar proposal in terms of changes to the articles and bylaws that permit better voting inside the Covenant but the changes were never submitted to the community for a vote. The right for condo owners to vote has come up before, the last time in 2011.

The 2015 governing documents committee’s recommendation for revisions to the articles of incorporation ensures all property owners receive one Association membership with two votes. Owners of multiple properties will continue to be limited to two votes regardless of the number of properties they own and condo owners who pay Association dues but don’t have the right to vote would be given the opportunity.

A vote is expected in early 2016. If approved, the changes would not go into effect until July.

The Rowe School gym

For the last few years, the Rancho Santa Fe School District Board has discussed the status of its gym and the possibility of modernizing the existing facility or building a whole new gym with the help of a bond program.

A modernized or new gym would allow for expanded programs and designated space for things like locker rooms, wrestling and dance.

Built in the 1970s, the gym building is seeing the normal wear and tear and structural integrity issues. In December, the board approved making repairs to the building’s eaves, which are showing signs of aging and rot.

The district’s recently approved master plan includes options to modernize, construct a new two-court gym and a three-court gym. In the past, costs were estimated at $19 million to $23 million — at the Jan. 7 board meeting, the board will be discussing what kind of additional repairs the gym might need in the next three to four years, as well as smaller alternatives for a new facility.

The district does face challenges for upgrades — while the current building can continue to operate under the code under which it was constructed, any revisions to the structure will trigger an accessibility upgrade for it to be in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). Modernization is possible, if not expensive.

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