Rancho Santa Fe Golf and Tennis Clubs survey members on Covenant Club

The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club sent a survey out to its membership Oct. 1 to measure their opinions on the proposed Covenant Club pool and health club facility. According to Debra Gustafson, president of the RSF Golf Club Board of Governors, the intent of the survey is to inform the board about how club members feel about the location, size and amenities proposed so it can best represent the majority of its membership as the community moves forward with the feasibility study.

At the Oct. 1 Rancho Santa Fe Association board meeting, Director Heather Slosar said she was made aware that the Rancho Santa Fe Homeowners Group, the independent group that has formed to keep members informed on the Covenant Club, sent an urgent e-mail message to Golf Club members on Sept. 30 to encourage them to vote against housing the proposed club on the golf club campus.

The RSF Homeowners Group also asked that members choose “None of the above” rather than either of the alternative locations offered as choices in the survey.

“It’s unfortunate that this fringe group calling themselves the RSF Homeowner’s Group would advocate to Golf Club members that they should silence their voices in the design of the Covenant Club,” Slosar said, likening it to members picking up their ball at the first hole and going home. “We have been working openly with the broader Golf Club membership and I would urge them to let their voices be heard on the location of the Covenant Club.”

According to the RSF Homeowners Group (RSFHG) in the e-mail, the size of the project, coupled with its effect on parking and traffic, will negatively impact the rural feel of the golf and tennis clubs.

“(Slosar) said that we had asked our friends to silence their vote. We think that we asked just the opposite — we asked people to say ‘No I don’t want the proposed Covenant Club on the golf/tennis campus” and ‘none of the sites described in the survey are acceptable’,” read a statement from the group on its website.

Recently the RSF Tennis Club conducted a similar survey. The survey of 158 Tennis Club member respondents showed 47 percent would be in support of adding a fitness facility and 53 percent against, ignoring where the facility was located and how it was financed. Sixty-one percent of the Tennis Club members were against locating the facility on the golf and tennis campus.

Eighty percent were against a design proposal that built the Covenant Club over the current footprint of the Tennis Club, resulting in the loss of six tennis courts. Two of the seven design alternatives do propose integrating the club onto the tennis campus, but the effected tennis courts would be replaced so the tennis club would maintain a total of 12 courts.

RSF Association Director Mike Licosati, a member of the Covenant Club committee, said he believes that the validity of the Tennis Club and Golf Club surveys has been compromised as those who prepared the surveys are also members of the RSFHG or are spouses of members. He said the results are tainted because the survey is “extremely biased” as a result.

“More troubling, the conflicted Golf Club board members released the survey early and privately to the RSFHG so they could distribute a blast email with specific, suggested negative answers to the survey,” Licosati said.

Gustafson said that this is untrue, that RSFHG members only had advance information regarding the survey because the two survey questions were discussed at a meeting in which they were present.

“Our entire Board of Governors participated in compiling the short survey and voted unanimously on the final version,” Gustafson said. “Our survey was based only on known facts of the current planned location, size and amenities of the proposed Covenant Club. There is nothing in our survey that is biased.”

Gustafson said the survey is being administered in accordance with the Golf Club’s board of governors election process to insure each eligible member votes only once.

Licosati said the RSFHG’s primary goal seems to be defeating the Covenant Club, not keeping residents informed. He said he believes the RSFHG is leading an effort to subvert the affirmative vote of the Association membership on a professional planning phase and design of the Covenant Club.

“After the design and professional planning phases are complete, the issue will be put to the broad RSF Association to vote,” Licosati said. “For RSFHG to try to stop the process that was duly and fairly voted on by our community is truly unfortunate.”

According to the RSFHG, no matter the results of the Golf Club survey, the viability of the chosen site needs to be addressed as well as other questions regarding zoning, county and environmental approvals, construction costs and financing.

“Fringe group or not, we plan to weigh in on all of these issues,” the RSFHG statement read. “As Ms. Slosar suggested, like in golf, we still have a lot of holes to play.”

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