What Would Lillian Rice Think?


Our family moved to Rancho Santa Fe almost five years ago, enticed by a beautiful and historic town, a large yard and wonderful school where our children could thrive. To our delight we found an incredible sense of community, generosity and plain old fun among the families we have befriended. To our dismay, we’ve also found a downtown on life support and a fractured populous with each group fiercely protecting their own way of life to the detriment of our greater community.

Back in 1919, Lillian Rice imagined a Rancho Santa Fe with a lovely hotel, quaint downtown, a centrally located school, all designed to create a true village and a vibrant community. In 1945, the Master Plan for Rancho Santa Fe proposed a recreational campus that would offer golf, tennis and a pool that the entire community could enjoy.

As it stands now, Rancho Santa Fe’s recreational campus serves less than 35% of our community’s population but is subsidized by 100% of it, and the memberships of those clubs are declining faster than our in-town dining options. The land where the golf and tennis clubs are located is owned by the entire community and all community members should have an opportunity to enjoy this asset.

Yes, the introduction of a pool and fitness club would change the current campus but the Covenant Club design committee is very sensitive to the aesthetic and auditory challenges involved. In the scheme of things, it’s a marginal addition not a colossal change and need not necessarily detract from the rural environment of the town. More likely, the Covenant Club could become a new point of vitality for Rancho Santa Fe.

What would Lillian Rice think? It’s likely that she would not only be supportive of a community campus that strengthens social ties for all of Rancho Santa Fe but she would be thrilled that we are working together to retain the spirit of her legacy and keep our lovely town from dying on the vine.