Letters to the Editor: April 14 issue
Vote Should be Delayed
It was requested at last Thursday’s RSF Association board meeting that the vote on the proposed bylaw changes and additions scheduled to be mailed on May 12, along with the ballot for the election of three new directors, be delayed. It was also requested that a noticed community meeting be scheduled so our membership has the opportunity to comment on the final draft.
Unfortunately, the information on the proposed changes was only sent to members who are on the Association’s email list and not the entire membership. These proposed changes and additions are not a clean-up effort to come into compliance with the Davis-Stirling Act; they are profound changes and additions which deal with our voting rights, committee rules, and much more. Within its language may lie repercussions not envisioned by the bylaw committee. The seriousness of this matter warrants more than letter-writing to committee members by a deadline of April 15! The proposed bylaw changes need to be further discussed and, if necessary, openly debated at community meetings so that an informed membership will ultimately vote on the proposed changes which effect us all.
Marie Addario, Past President of the Rancho Santa Fe Association
Jim Ashcraft, Past President of the Rancho Santa Fe Association
Groundhog Day or Life in the Covenant
I am always interested to read the letters written by the older members of the golf club and the community. They’re always talking about how the Association is spending their money, when we all know they pay virtually nothing in Association fees and the people who’ve moved here in the last 10 years pay 80 percent of our operating budget. They focus on keeping things as they were 20-30 years ago. It’s obvious to some of us and I hope most of us, that we can’t keep things the same. There are more people, more automobiles and a greater need for technology and infrastructure.
The golf club membership is only about 25 percent of the total population of the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant. And recently only 15 percent of the people moving here have joined. These older members do not offer any solutions to attract more golf members, tennis members or, for that matter, more home buyers. They just don’t want any change.
Then, some old-time residents write about getting the community back together. Their meaning is for all the new people to agree with them. Well, maybe the community needs to get back together by addressing the future and not the past. Maybe the older residents of the community need to greet the new residents with open arms and accept that times have changed. We should all be concerned about the vitality of the Covenant, of the golf club, of the tennis club and of the community. Those who join committees merely to stop progress need to stay at home. Those who say “don’t spend our money,” need to realistically view how much they pay versus how much we pay.
Progress is not found by living in the past. One day even those folks who are saying “don’t spend our money” and “don’t change anything” will wish to sell their houses or their heirs will want to sell their houses. The changes that are being proposed should make the values of all of our houses go up. And even if we’re not selling our houses, the things that are being proposed will make our lives better while we still live in our homes. We need to attract new people to RSF. They will want cell coverage, high-speed internet and a place to get together with their friends and their families.
It’s time to look forward. It’s not April Fool’s Day but it’s not Groundhog Day either.
Jim Boon, RSF Covenant Resident and Golf Club Member
Do You Want to Know How Much Your Water Bills Will Really Increase?
The eight-page “Notice of Public Hearing Regarding Proposed Rate Increases for Water Service Charges” mailed out last week to all SFID customers did not provide a comparison of proposed percentage increases. A brief review of the Cost of Service Study reveals percentages ranging from increases of 46.8 percent (those using 5 units or less) to actual reductions of –4.6 percent for approximately one-third of all Single Family Residences. The SFID mailing was not transparent in informing customers with lots larger than standard city size, (Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch, Sun Valley area, Montecillo, and northeastern Solana Beach), that they could easily find their water bills increase by 15 percent - 20 percent or more in each of the three fiscal years for a combined increase of 45 percent - 60 percent or more.
The Rancho Santa Fe Association website is posting a one-page summary of proposed percentage rate impacts, along with a simple written protest form. As a recent article in the Review noted, 50 percent of the customers, or 3,253 written protests, are required to block the proposed rate increases. Readers who do not have access to the RSF Association website can find similar information under “Water” articles at www.rsfpost.com. SFID customers — take a few minutes to understand the actual three-year financial impacts of the proposed rates, and then consider if you wish to exercise your rights guaranteed in the California Constitution and submit a written protest before May 19, 2016.
The General Manager of the SFID has indicated the SFID will not do a mailing, completely at the expense of someone other than the SFID, which would provide you, the customer, with information showing you exactly how much your water bill will be.
Incomplete Bylaw and Governing Documents Amendments
I have been involved in bylaw changes with many organizations. The traditional way to amend bylaws is to strike out words to be removed and underline words to be added. In addition, a rationale in italics is provided to help the membership understand the proposed change, unless the reason is blatantly obvious. The Bylaws Committee has not underlined content to be added nor provided rationale for additions or deletions.
I asked if the committee could please use a different strikeout color to show changes necessary per Davis-Stirling. My request was denied. Some changes are to bring us in line with Davis-Stirling, but other changes are board or committee recommendations. We cannot tell the difference. Since no underlining is provided, I had to go to my Bylaws booklet to see what is being added.
I found one change particularly disturbing. Three board members will be allowed to serve on any given committee, with the full authority of the board. There should never be three board members on the same committee, for the obvious reason that it puts too much power in their hands. Davis-Stirling prohibits collusion of board members. When three serve on the same committee, nearly a quorum of the board are colluding. And, should another board member or the President drop by, then the open meeting law is violated.
I would hate to see the “thousands of hours spent” bringing these amendments to us go to waste. I urge the Association to delay sending the ballot on these changes. Ask the bylaws committee to provide us color-coded strikeouts, add color-coded underlines for what is to be added and provide the rationale for each. The committee knows what those differences are; please share that with us.
Solar Panels Ugly, Are You Kidding?!
Have you seen a picture of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station? Now that’s ugly! (That plant was shut down in 2012 because of a leak, and now they’re burying the nuclear waste up and down our precious coastline over the next few decades.) The story “RSF residents say solar panels created ‘blight’ in neighborhood” is absolutely ridiculous in my opinion. Since moving to Rancho Santa Fe two years ago, I have noticed something. The people here care deeply about other people, their surroundings, and based on this article about solar panels being “ugly,” I can see clearly that people here care about the future of their beloved town. But, doesn’t that beauty come at a price? And shouldn’t we care a bit about those to come after us?
Natural gas is the primary way we get electricity here, and while natural gas is better than burning coal (emitting roughly half the amount of carbon dioxide per unit of energy as coal), it is still an incredibly potent greenhouse gas if it escapes into the atmosphere unburned. With around 9,000 solar permits a year being submitted, it is clear that San Diego residents want an increased emphasis on energy efficiency.
Solar panels may be “ugly” but the truth is, they are everywhere, and for good reason. If you drive down almost any road in Rancho Santa Fe these days, and look hard enough, you will “be bothered” by the site solar panels attached to homes, and I couldn’t be more proud. These homeowners have stepped up and said, “Yeah, you know what, they may be ugly, but at least my grandkids will be able to enjoy the world as I did.” These homeowners know they are saving money, and saving the environment at the same time. They understand that it’s time to stop drilling oil wells and opening power plants that are deadly to everyone when an earthquake destroys them or they leak (which happens a lot more than never). The sun is overwhelming the Earth with incomprehensible amounts of energy each day, and intelligent homeowners are embracing this fact with open arms. Every time I drive past the row of solar panels that Mrs. Astier thinks should be illegal, I smile so big, knowing there is hope for our world.
Let’s save the planet by helping all of our neighbors understand that while solar panels may be “a blight,” they are actually saving money, as well as lives of many generations to come. Let’s all take a look at a few photos of nuclear power plants to see just how ugly our alternatives are before creating a front page news story about an issue that actually is helping everyone.
Amanda Marie Cascadden
RSF Association Bylaw Work for Naught?
I attended the RSF Association board meeting on April 7. One of the items discussed was the proposed changes to our bylaws. This is a very complex subject and one of great importance to our community.
Several members read questions about various proposed bylaw changes. These individuals didn’t seem to really understand what they were even asking. I got the impression that someone had given them a “script” of questions to ask. It appeared to me that some of the individuals that were addressing questions to Mr. Wasserman, chair of the Governing Documents Committee (GDC), had not read the governing documents/proposed changes. I wonder how many of the individuals who asked apparently scripted questions, have ever read the bylaws?
There have been other changes to the bylaws over the past decade or two and they went “flying through” with few asking questions and/or issues raised. This current review by the GDC has been very detailed and done by individuals with a tremendous amount of relevant expertise, plus the proposed changes have been reviewed by outside counsel. One member indicated I had “insider information.” I was rather amazed and replied that the “insider information” I had was that I had actually taken the time to read the proposed bylaw changes, available on the RSF Association’s website!
The members of the Governing Documents Committee (GDC) are: Fred Wasserman, Judge David Moon (Ret.), Allen Finkelson, Kris Charton, John Blakely and Mike Licosati. Except for Fred, a successful businessman, all the members are very experienced lawyers. They have invested well over a year in this project, on a pro bono basis. They sent out at least one draft before the current one, seeking member input and received very little feedback. They have held a community-wide meeting and it looks like they will hold another before the proposed changes go to the members for a vote. In the past, when there were proposed changes to the governing documents there was no effort to encourage members to provide input and the work on the proposed changes was done “behind closed doors.” The GDC meetings have been open and, sadly, very poorly attended by members of our community.
It would really be a shame to see all of their work be for naught if members elect to vote down an incredible amount of very high-quality work-product. Maybe there is something I have missed but I have seen no evidence of a “political agenda” in their work. All I have seen is a huge effort, by some very talented people, who have tried to simplify some issues, bring the document into conformance with Davis-Stirling, and overall improve the quality of our governing documents.
Lisa M. Bartlett