June 15 RSFA Board Recap

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New Member Input Process

In a move towards improved Association transparency, the Association will now publish all member input sent to memberinput@rsfassocation.org on the Association web site for all members to see, and not only just made available to board members. As we’ve seen here in the RSF Post with the Hardie Board and Restaurant Upgrade polls, members generally have informative and thoughtful comments. Making Association member input available for all to see is a great idea. And the RSF Post will continue to have comments available for future polls.

Goodbye Zoom

The next board meeting will be live and the Association will ditch zoom meetings entirely. What a giant step backwards this will be. I hope new leadership will revisit this decision and keep zoom meetings going. 

Hardie Board

RSF Post readers weighed in definitively 91% in favor of lifting the Hardie Board ban. This is a bigger percentage than voted for the RSF Connect fiber network. 

At the meeting, Director Greg Gruzdowich, with Bill Weber and Laurel Lemarie concurring, argued for lifting the ban.  

The ban was instituted March 7, 2019 via a 4-3 vote on a board resolution. Not a regulation. Not a Covenant modification, but a simple board resolution that had zero public forewarning. Since it isn’t even a regulation, it didn’t go through a 30 day notice period. The board simply stated, on a divided vote, that they suddenly decided to interpret the Covenant as banning Hardie Board, even though it had been allowed for decades prior.

What a board resolution can put in place, another board resolution can undo. It need not be complicated, and I’m pretty sure during the next board meeting, a majority, or even all, board members would support a resolution overturning the Hardie Board ban. Someone just has to take a leadership position on this, draft a resolution and get it on the agenda. 91% of members will thank you for it.

Lighting Regulation

Another contentious meeting where dueling camps set up shop and sniped at each other. Tempers flared. After a while, a compromise was suggested. I don’t know if this will mollify certain board members, but here’s what was suggested for the next go around.

Basically, the operative rule would be that either NO landscape lighting should be visible from adjacent properties OR it should be unobtrusive (still some arm wrestling left to figure out the exact wording). This would allow uplighting as long as it doesn’t bother anyone. No set number of uplights allowed. Presumably uplights should still be shielded in some manner, like being splashed against a tree that has a canopy (no search lights). The building commissioner was tasked with redrafting the regulation based on this input.

By the way, there seems to be a lack of understanding among some board members on what the current regulation says about outdoor lighting. Up to 12 “low wattage” uplights are allowed in the current regulatory code (section 14.0404.02). And in practice, people can do whatever they want unless someone complains since the Association doesn’t have a roving band of night time enforcement officers. Having said that, people do complain when they perceive lighting to be excessive. In practice, be respectful of your neighbors, which is always good advice.

Architectural Styles

The board has been trying to update the Residential Design Guidelines which is a series of recommendations intended to help homeowners figure out how to design a house to fit into Rancho. It was written almost 30 years ago, so updating or improving it seemed like a good idea. However, mission creep and power struggles have made the process a complete mess. Making it worse, the people in our community that actually know something about this, Art Jurors, former and current, appear to be locked out of the process. (Update: there is an unofficial ad-hoc committee of Sharon Ruhnau, Laurel Lemarie, Bill Danola, Ken Markstein and Candace Humber working on the architectural styles. They have not produced any recommendations yet).

In a nutshell, the board is attempting to constrain the Art Jury though things like 100 item checklists so they don’t make any more “mistakes” going forward. As building commissioner Maryam Babaki stated in the meeting, architecture is art and you can’t and shouldn’t constrain architects through overly detailed proscriptive regulations.  

Let me quote Rick Sapp from the meeting to give you an idea of where the thinking lies:

There are members of the board here who have complained vociferously over the years that the Art Jury wandered off the very tenants of the Covenant and were approving homes that were no where near Latin inspired. That’s what we are trying to address here. I think our duties and responsibilities to the community are to do a good faith effort to put corral fences around the horses so we at least know what the likely outcomes should be. 

Zero Trust. That’s what I hear when I read the above. Sapp, at least, doesn’t trust the Art Jury to do its job, so he wants the board to corral them. And it ignores the fact that the board itself has overruled the Art Jury from time to time to allow the same non Latin inspired houses that Sapp complains about above.

As I’ve pointed out before, Art Juries will make mistakes. Boards will make mistakes. No human system is flawless. Thinking that writing specially crafted words on paper that go on for fifteen or more pages will somehow make Art Jury decisions better is delusional.

There isn’t anything wrong with updating the Design Guidelines as a helpful document for homeowners. But for the board to try to improve the Art Jury is a step too far, and frankly, isn’t in the board’s purview. Instead the board should ask the Art Jury to come up with better processes to enable more consistency, not impose something. After all, the experts are the Art Jurors, former and current. The board is clearly not.

Draft concept of a “bullseye” showing examples of allowed, problematic and disallowed architectural styles. Created by former Art Juror, not under consideration for use.