When The System Fails

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At our most recent Board of Directors meeting there was heated discussion about the Building Commissioner’s proposed regulation on exterior lighting. How this proposed regulation is being dealt with demonstrates a flaw in our system of governance. The Board president has represented that uplighting should be allowed because this “would be the choice of a large majority of residents.” There is no factual support for this statement. If anything, using member comments as a measure, the large majority of residents do not want uplighting or any exterior lighting that negatively impacts our dark sky.

If we are relying on member comments as a true measure of members’ opinions, then the Board cannot ignore them. If they aren’t a true measure of our members’ opinions then we need to conduct a poll or survey to find out what the majority of our membership wants. I don’t suggest that this be done in every instance but when we are contemplating negating a long-held policy, one that will have a lasting effect on all of our members and one that is promoted by the public agencies that serve us, our decision should not rest on the opinions of a majority of our Directors (possibly no more than four people).

The San Dieguito Community Plan (part of the County General Plan) has a goal of providing for the orderly development of Rancho Santa Fe while maintaining Rancho Santa Fe’s historically established neighborhood and preserving a more rural environment. It has found that the “dark night sky is an essential element contributing to the rural character of“ Rancho Santa Fe. It therefore has a policy that prohibits uplighting and prohibits lighting of exterior sports facilities both public and private.

I believe we should have a compelling reason to pass a regulation in contradiction to this Plan and at the very least be certain that the majority of our membership wants this.

Sharon Ruhnau is a RSFA board member whose three year term will end June 30.