CDRC Confidential: The Game


Welcome to our show, “PC/Not,” a game the whole family can play! “PC/Not,” where contestants decide whether structures conform or not, to the Protective Covenant which runs with land in the Rancho Santa Fe Association. It’s fun & easy! RSFA members can find the rules of the game in a copy of the Protective Covenant which they can pick up at the Association offices for free (just tell them Jane sent you).

Rules of the Game

While devotees of the game like to ponder the entire document, all players really need is on a couple pages: Page seven, just the third and fourth paragraphs of the “PREAMBLE”:

“WHEREAS, Rancho Santa Fe is unusually attractive and valuable as a high class place of residence because of the rare quality of its landscape…and fine architecture…and”

“…property owners are most desirous of preserving,…this character of community and rare landscape…upholding the quality…and restricting the use, height and bulk of buildings;”

along with Page thirty (30), Paragraphs 155 to 160. Par 155 mandates materials “must be used honestly,…and not imitating other materials” while the other paragraphs contain “general requirements” of Latin inspired architecture (157), light color (158), exterior walls of “plaster, stucco, adobe…or concrete…’” (159) low pitched roofs of tile, shingle, shake (160).


After reading those few paragraphs of rules, Players who are Members and their accompanied guests can go anywhere on the trails in the Covenant to play the game, or simply on the roads riding in their cars. Recently, I took a guest with me to play walking around the RSF Golf Course. There are some lovely residences along the course conforming beautifully to the PC, while others “Not.” By the end of our walk, she was killin’ it!

Obviously, “Not” is Anglo-inspired, along with its more subtle use of imitative materials which breach Par. 155 mandating materials actually express what they are. Applying that rule, metal or hardie board, a fibre cement exterior wall surface, imitating wood with faux grain imprinted on their surfaces are “Not.” Concrete which is a composite of cement and stone may be used under 159, but not if it is trying to imitate wood (155). “Confidentially,” the CDRC has had applications including these imitative materials, but yours truly spotted them. This appears to disappoint those with design and construction businesses and property owners pushing to lower PC standards at the expense of those members who followed the rules.

Below are snapshots of my friend’s chic home built in the Covenant at great expense long before I was appointed to the CDRC. Players checking the rules can see that, even though it’s modern, the structures conform wonderfully to the general requirements being Latin-inspired, stone, with low tile roofs, materials used honestly, etc. Sadly, players won’t be able to spot this home while walking about because it is tastefully tucked away on 14 acres.


Hint: If players see truck loads of dirt being brought in to build out a pad, or excessive grading, they should decide if preservation of land forms is at risk, which is Not PC. Also Not PC: Prominent structures running lot line to lot line reflecting a formal suburban look rather than preserving our rural community where horse trails are used instead of sidewalks, star and moonlight instead of street lights, and property is measured in acres. (Unlike nearby communities pretentiously advertising “Estates” on postage-stamp-size lots, like every strip mall in So Cal calling itself a plaza.)

Change the Rules

If the Members don’t like the rules of the game, they can always change them under Par. 164, by amending them with a vote of two-thirds of RSFA Members (Eg. Change the requirements to Asian-inspired with aluminum siding imprinted with faux cowhide grain imitating leather).

Well, that’s our show “PC/Not.” Hope you play along at home. Remember, it’s a daytime game show. At night, all you should be able to see in the Covenant is star and moonlight with a few twinkling lights across the canyons from you, or the discreet light on the address marker of your friends’ country house where you are invited for dinner.

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


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