I’ve finally finished moving all the old RSF Post articles from 2014 onwards to our new site. Wow, what an education it has been reading 700+ articles!
The Post was seemingly born in fire just as a Board president was being removed, an 18 year veteran Association Manager had taken extended medical leave while training for triathlons, and the local TV News covered the mess.
It got better:
- The removed RSFA Board President came back to win re-election in a highly charged election campaign that included election sign theft caught on security camera, and was reinstated as Board President
- In a very close vote, which was a revote from a previous landslide, Association members changed their minds and decided to not purchase the Garden Club
- In another close vote, we decided to spend $350K on a feasibility study for the Covenant Club
- And there was a literal wildfire which almost destroyed some Rancho Santa Fe homes
That all happened in 2014, and it hasn’t calmed down much since then. 2016 saw another hotly contested RSFA election with more election sign robbery. Anyways, as a capstone to my month long journey through five years of Rancho history, I thought I’d share some observations.
Transparency Goes In and Out of Fashion
We used to have a Board president that wrote monthly updates to all members. We used to record Board meetings and almost got Board meeting audio posted to the web, but our current Board prohibits any kind of recordings at meetings.
While most Board candidates give lip service to transparency and accountability, no candidate made it a central pillar of their candidacy in the most recent election. We can do better than what we currently have.
RSF Grows Up
Huge governance and financial accountability changes occurred in the last five years. Gone are the days when $12M of our money could be spent before Board approval was even sought. Indeed, in my mind the Association’s finest hour occurred when the Board stuck to its guns and held a vote for the fiber Internet network spending, even though the Board believed it to be an absolutely essential project.
Massive, very much overdue accounting changes were implemented starting about five years ago. This was followed by implementing proper fund accounting, and three years ago, Osuna got proper accounting implemented. The Covenant Enhancement “slush fund” (previously the Open Space fund) legality was questioned, and the result is that we are now no longer accumulating a portion of our assessments into a bucket to be raided whenever the Board feels like it. ALL assessment monies are now pre-allocated according to a yearly budget sent out ahead of time to members.
If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that we don’t agree on much. On many issues, our community is fairly evenly divided. The Garden Club purchase was a 50.8% to 49.2% vote against. Spending $350K on the Covenant Club study was 51.7% to 48.3% for.
Outsiders typically think Rancho Santa Fe is a homogeneous enclave of old rich people. The reality is quite different. We have many young families as any weekend outing to our soccer and baseball fields will attest. We have retirees who live on a modest fixed income. We do have some very rich people, but they are a minority. We have a lot of people with mortgages. We have people whose Rancho home is their summer residence. The point is that on many issues, we simply aren’t going to agree.
But recent experience shows how to deal with contentious issues: education, town halls, and once everyone has vented their opinions, a vote. Everyone respects vote results if they are done after an appropriate amount of education and notice.
Not all votes are close. Roundabouts versus traffic lights was 73% in favor of roundabouts. Our decision to build our own fiber network was 85% in favor, and the recent anti-densification amendment passed with 66% for.
Another constant has been power struggles. Board vs Manager, Board vs CDRC, Board vs Golf Club, Board vs Members, Board vs Staff, Board vs Manager again. Hmm, I think I’m seeing a pattern here. Yes, over the years, the Board does seem to like flexing its muscles.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing necessarily wrong with the Board exercising its power. If there is one group that should have power, it’s the Board since it is elected.
However there is a right way and a wrong way to exercise power. When the Board gets into hot water, it is almost always because it decided to shoot first and ask questions later. Just because you have power, doesn’t mean you should wield it like a heavy club. Consultation, community involvement and buy-in goes a long way.
Lastly, How To Use The RSF Post For Your Own Research
The new RSF Post has a few easy to use features so that you too can read up on our history to inform any articles you might write or discussions you may have.
All Post articles are tagged with one or more Topics. You can look at all articles on any particular topic from the Home Page just by clicking on a Topic link, or selecting a Topic from the pull down menu:
A list of all Topics are also accessible via the main menu.
You can also search through 700 or so articles using our handy search facility. You may not have noticed, but there is a search icon on the far right of our top header. Click that magnifying glass to type in a search term.
You can click on any author’s name to see other articles by the same author. We also have a menu item that lists each author with links to their articles.
Did you know that the Post goes back more years than the Review? Our archives go back to early 2014, while the Review only has a few years of back stories. We aim to be the paper of record for Rancho Santa Fe, and will endeavor to write articles about all topics that affect residents.
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