When The System Fails


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.