Local Architect: Do Not Ban Wood Siding

By Maxwell Wuthrich

August 6, 2020

(Editor: I’ve known Max for many years as a respected local architect with his office in the Village. In my eyes, for him to write this knowing his own practice may get blowback is something indeed. Picture above, early RSF golf clubhouse sketch showing wood board and batten architecture.)

Dear Rancho Santa Fe Board Members, Art Jury members & community at large,

My name is Maxwell Wuthrich and I have been very fortunate to have owned a reasonably successful architectural practice, here in the village, for almost 30 years. Up until now, I have been silent regarding the proposed Covenant Resolution placing a limit on residential wood siding.

I’m not completely certain where this movement to outlaw wood siding on covenant homes started but I have a pretty good idea. [Max is being sarcastic here] Thank goodness that after almost 100 years of covenant guidance the current board (with the help of two current members) & a former Art Jury member was finally able to interpret the protective covenant correctly.  The members of this “squad” are the self appointed saviors of our protective covenant. 

Passing a blanket ordinance allowing only 25% of a home’s exterior to contain wood siding goes against everything that the covenant authors were trying to achieve. Isn’t each parcel, along with the architecture placed upon it, to be judged on it’s own merit? If so there should be no limit on the percentage of wood siding to be used.

Over the course of the past 92 years, the subtle mixture of adobe, wood siding, stucco, clay tile, wood shingles and lovely landscaping has created a certain harmony that only remains in a handful of communities nationwide. 

The covenant has always been looked up to and admired for it’s stringent adherence to basic design fundamentals & time honored architectural styles. Why suddenly are we considering kneeling on the neck of a large percentage of our community who just happen to own homes with wood siding?

When Covid-19 placed many of us in lock-down, I had a bit of extra time on my hands, so…..I drove every street, road & lane within the covenant (that wasn’t gated or private) and compiled a map over a 3 week period, depicting homes with existing wood siding, be it board & batten, shiplap, tongue & groove or shingle:

Properties in red have wood siding.

Please click here to view a high resolution version of this map. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” could not be more accurate! 

Does the board honestly mean to tell each of these property owners, depicted in red on this map, that their homes are no longer in vogue and that they are now less desirable than homes finished in stucco & tile? If so, this is rubbish in my opinion! Absolute rubbish!!! 

Have we forgotten that one of the original design concepts for our own golf club house, sketched in 1928, was a board & batten structure designed by George Washington Smith? (see title picture above).

All I ask is that you reconsider approving this ordinance at the August meeting and continue this item until we’ve all had proper time to consider the consequences that come with the adoption of such an ordinance. This decision will forever live on as this board’s legacy. Please don’t rush to a decision. 

It has taken the covenant 92 years to get this far, thanks in no small part to past board members, too numerous to list, who have walked this trail before you, and quite frankly, have done a pretty respectable job. Eliminating a major portion of our community’s architectural fabric & character, by no longer allowing it to flourish over time, would prove criminal and something from which we collectively may never recover.



Maxwell F. Wuthrich, AIA

B+W Architects
P.O. Box 7223
6119 La Granada – Suite B
Rancho Santa Fe, CA  92067-7223


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