RSFA 2020 Strategic Planning Session Results

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Here are the results of the September 24th strategy session which should tell us what the 20/21 RSFA board will focus on. Each section starts with a presentation slide describing a particular priority followed by my comments.

Many people think that branding is a slogan and logo exercise since that’s the most visible result. But it is much more than that. An HOA’s brand identity, done right, affects who you hire as staff, what your service levels are, indeed, your entire budget. 

Let me give you two examples of what RSF’s brand could be: “Simple Country Charm” or “World Class Residence Community”.

If we were “Simple Country Charm”, we would have a lot more volunteers running things. Consistency of service would depend whether or not Marge was away on vacation. Our golf course would be rough around the edges, but that’s OK, because the fees would be low. We wouldn’t spend money on roadway beautification because that isn’t a “country” look. Our assessments would be low. 

Bridges clubhouse interior.

If we were “World Class Residence Community”, some of our secretarial staff would be legal secretaries with salaries to match. Our restaurant would look like the Bridges clubhouse. All our facilities would be well maintained and luxurious (playing fields, tennis courts, golf course, Osuna). Our village would be vibrant. Our assessments would be high.

Obviously, we aren’t either of these brands. If I had to pick what we are today, I’d say “Good value”. For the amount of money we pay in assessments, restaurant prices, facility fees, we get good value. Not world class, just good value. So … is that what we want to be going forward? 

Anyways, if you look at the slide above, I get the impression the board thinks this is a “slogan and logo” exercise. If that’s all it turns out to be, our true brand identity will continue being what it has been in the past, only with a different logo. 

Ignoring the last two lines, which are borderline insulting (ask any Art Juror and they’ll say they always adhere to regulations and the Protective Covenant), this relates to regulations. The board has passed some controversial regulations in the last couple of years (wood restrictions, Art Jury IDR process, Hardie Board prohibition, solar regulation) and is looking to keep going.

As I mentioned before, the Association used to have an open, round table approach to drafting regulations where anyone could attend working sessions to go through documents line by line. It’s how public associations normally draft new regulations, rules, standards, etc. It will be instructive to see how the Association decides to proceed on regulations going forward.

This will be an interesting project, not least because there are two board members who currently have diametrically opposite views on what to do with Osuna. Osuna is a 25 acre commercial horse ranch off Via de Santa Fe. It boards about fifty horses, has one ring, has huge grass pastures and is primarily a hunter jumper training facility run by world class equestrian Hap Hansen. 

The Association has owned Osuna Ranch since 2007 and runs it on a more or less operating break even basis. As a point of comparison, I owned a fifty horse commercial ranch in Olivenhain. It had two rings plus a round pen and pastures, all on 7 acres. It did not feel small. So some people on the board see that there is an opportunity to keep both Osuna’s current horse operations while also using some of the land for other purposes. 

What sort of purposes? Anything and everything is on the table. I’ve heard ideas of a community pool, dedicated pickleball courts, wine tasting bar, gym/exercise facility, playing fields, vineyard, and veering in a totally different direction, developing high density condos and even outright selling the property.

Is this The Covenant Club, version 2.0? Five years ago, our community was bitterly divided over a proposal to squeeze many of the above items into the current golf/tennis club area. One of the objections to the Covenant Club was the lack of available space in that area. A similar development at Osuna would not have this problem since there is plenty of space available.

Personally, I think this is a good initiative. Osuna, in addition to some other Association property, is a very underutilized asset. It is borderline fiscal malfeasance to not extract more utility from the property and I’m glad to see the Association starting to study options.

We’ve been lucky the past couple of years, largely escaping fire dangers while seemingly the rest of California burns. It won’t last. Sooner or later, another wildfire will force us to once again evacuate. I liken this to the periodic hurricanes that east coasters must prepare for. In our case, the Association has been moving forward with both vegetation mitigation in some of our canyons as well helping individual property owners with Firewatch information. In the next three or so months, we will each be getting our own aerial view of our properties which will highlight wildfire related threats. It is a sophisticated analysis and should help us prepare for the next wildfire.

The Association is proceeding with plans to renovate the community’s restaurant to make it more of a meeting place, update it, etc. 

On Communications, there doesn’t seem to be a goal to enhance cellular coverage? 

By any measure, RSF Connect has been a success for the Association. The above tasks are there to ensure continued success for what is an obviously critical piece of our infrastructure.

Anything Missing?

Notice anything that’s missing? One person noticed that there was nothing regarding Village revitalization. Did you notice anything else that was missing?