Frank Creede is a member of the Rancho Santa Fe Association Infrastructure Committee.
I have heard that the community is unaware of our activities. So here is an update. Your Association staff and board are hard at work to improve our community and quality of life.
We have four primary areas of focus: Communications, Roads, Utilities, and Water. Community Amenities was on the list, but due to the adverse effects from the COVID lockdowns on several of our community volunteers, I believe this will be revisited in the near future.
As I chair the communications committee, I am aware of the other committees’ activities, yet I am by no means actively involved and I would encourage other committee chairs to chime in. I apologize in advance for minimal information on the roads, utilities, and water committees, but I though it important that you were aware of the activities that are going on behind the scenes.
Wireless Master Plan & 5G
We have been in process of revising our Wireless Master Plan which is to be filed with San Diego County. The goal of the plan is to allow community control of wireless deployments in the covenant. Currently, the existing wireless sites are mounted on utility poles and shared by several wireless carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile). While these are unsightly, they are better than each wireless carrier deploying separate sites which would triple the site count or worse yet —- deploying 60-90 foot tall monopole macro-sites. We are striving to limit the proliferation of sites, controlling site locations, site aesthetics and while still providing decent wireless coverage for residents.
You have heard a lot about 5G and many of you see a 5G or 5GE indicator on the notification bar on your phone. 5G is not one thing, but many things. Think of a software defined network, less equipment at each antenna site, newer technology combined with existing airwaves (spectrum). 5G also includes milli-meter microwave frequencies of 24GHz and up (where most cellular systems using LTE employ frequencies below 1GHz). The wireless carriers and the existing utility mounted shared antenna system provider say that there are currently no plans to deploy 5G millimeter microwave in the covenant. Why? These signals are great for line of sight in dense urban areas, but they don’t penetrate trees, buildings, or go through hills. Our community is not suited for millimeter microwave 5G and it would be too costly to deploy. With the community owned RSF Connect fiber, we have 1Gbps high speed data and WiFi calling at home without using cellular, so it makes the business case for 5G in the covenant more difficult.
So 5G is here and it isn’t. Low band 5G is already here and it is using the same airwaves as LTE. The term is Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). You will see it on your phones, but it won’t be any faster than LTE. It’s all marketing. Should you be scared? That is up to you. I would be more concerned about holding a cell phone to my head during a phone call. Please use a headset or Bluetooth.
Macro cell sites outside the covenant in Solana Beach, Encinitas, the City of San Diego – and where we have no control — do serve wireless customers in the covenant and I have routinely connected from my home to a site on Manchester above the gas station and to the funky fake palm tree at Highland and Lomas Santa Fe. Radio waves do not observe the covenant boundaries unfortunately.
Thanks to everyone that submitted input on the Association’s wireless survey. We had over 200 responses and many of you were very vocal as to where cellular coverage needs to be enhanced. We can’t make promises, but the information provided by the community is being fed back to the shared wireless provider with the goal of improving coverage for our community. More to follow.
RSF Connect fiber is up to 926 current connections with 117 in the sales/installation process for a total of 1,043 connected Association members. This is fantastic news and for those that have not signed up the community subsidy for trenching is going away March 31, so act now or commit yourself to mediocre internet service in perpetuity. With most of the covenant on the RSF fiber, it won’t pay for the remaining Internet providers to maintain much less upgrade their networks in our area and service can only get worse.
During the 2007 fires while we were evacuated from our homes, we sat in our hotel rooms watching the endless loops of the same fire scenes on the news. We could not get any relevant data on the situation in our community. Photos, videos, first person accounts were not available. RSF Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser had a blogspot that was helpful, but it has long been disbanded. The emergency communications topic for the covenant requires more definition, but it was originally anticipated to share photos, video, and comments such as capabilities Twitter provides. I found it helpful during the Montecito Debris Flow to see information not available from state and local officials.
The concept was to not interfere with or replicate public safety notifications such as AlertSanDiego – which you should all sign up for. The Emergency Communications initiative was intended to use social media to allow community information to flow to our Association members. Nextdoor could have worked, but commercialization and with too many users outside our community, it simply won’t serve the purpose. While we are still gathering community requirements, the Association is working on setting up a Twitter feed, we are looking into upgrading the existing RSF Association Mobile App and we are still gathering community requirements as to what we all want —- so this is another work in process.
The committee is working hard on reducing speed limits in the covenant. We have engaged with the CHP on enforcement and in particular with the exotic cars coming and going to the Saturday morning gatherings. There are limitations as to what we can do by law, but the committee is getting creative. As an equestrian community, we know that a horse and rider can be around any corner and we are leveraging this and other aspects of our community to work towards lower speed limits.
The roads committee is also working on traffic safety, road conditions & repairs, intersection visibility and supporting the roundabouts that were approved by the county but as of yet unfunded.
Natural gas, propane, garbage, sewer, and undergrounding of power lines are services that the committee is looking into.
As I am also a SFID Director, I do not participate in the water sub-committee meetings due to ongoing litigation. Greg Gruzdowich, RSF Association Director and former SFID Director is the committee chair seeking equitable water rates and alternative water sources for our members.
Note: This article was written by me in a personal capacity, and not as an official RSF Association communication.