CDRC Confidential: The Art of Editing


“You should be wearing a Fedora,” said my son, the film minor, referring to my byline photo. “You’re right, but there was no budget for costumes.” The photo was my Editor’s idea. Readers like to see the writer, she explained. (See snapshot of my Editor & me at my front door for those who like to see editors, too!) She has extensive experience in journalism and edits my column.

The subject matter of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC &R’s) is deadly dull, so she improves my writing, making it more entertaining for the reader. Our intent, and particularly mine, from the outset was to make it humorous, “to delight and instruct” about the Protective Covenant (PC) that binds all Rancho Santa Fe Association Members together. Like me, my Editor uses dramatic license to make it more interesting. A 41-minute dramatic episode of “Law & Order” is more entertaining than a three-week trial in real life.

The title “CDRC Confidential” is my joke, too, because there is nothing confidential about the content of this column derived from CDRC publications, including the PC and RSFA Regulations as well as the meetings open to all Members. Since most Members are too busy to sit through our all-day meetings, we keep members “RSF Posted” about the open proceedings. For example, in January, a plan for a beautiful home on the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Course (GC) was presented. Not only did this residence meet the PC “Fab Four,” (Par. 157-160) including being Latin “inspired” and using the preferred Materials of plaster/stucco, but it also met the “height and bulk” concerns (PC Preamble) in dealing with its proposed two-story elements. The architect had edited the design effectively by placing one-story elements in front of the two-story elements to break up the building’s overall appearance of size.

We built my home as a single story to save my knees for skiing and Hip Hop. Like the proposed plan, the architects had suggested two-story elements for my home which I dismissed, including in our case a proposed Tuscan tower I found trendy and out of character with a simple Provence mas. Like the PC, we were going for timeless. As thoughtfully pointed out by one of the CDRC candidates, the PC was written in 1928 when the economy was strong with nouveau riche wanting to display their wealth. The provisions of the PC reflect a desire to constrain such exuberance insuring harmony. “A poorly designed example of architecture, regardless of its proposed cost, shall be disapproved” (PC Par 154). The aesthetic of the Ranch does not scream “Look at me!” but manifests discrete sophistication with a “uniform” and “high standard of artistic result….” (PC Par. 46). Its look is not going for “rich & famous,” just “rich” with the luxury of low-density housing quietly placed across a rural landscape.

An added, but not required, bonus: The CDRC ascertained while scrutinizing the plans of the proposed residence that the new home would not interfere with the GC view of its neighbors. View corridors are not guaranteed by the PC, but having consideration of them does keep harmony with your new neighbors. In our HOA, owners enforce at their own expense rights against spite fences (read Wilson v. Handley 2002, 97 Cal. App. 4th 1301, for a good summary).

Currently, the RSFA is editing its Regulations. Whether in writing or design, good editing improves the final product.

The statements made in this column are the opinions of the author and not those of the Rancho Santa Fe Association Covenant Design Review Committee.