RSFA February BOD: Art Jury, Art Jury, Art Jury

By Phil Trubey

February 5, 2022

With the amount of focus the RSFA Board spends on the Art Jury, you’d think it was completely dysfunctional. Actually, one board member at this meeting pretty much said as much. More on that later. But first:

Recreation Fields

Adam Crecion gave us an update on the RSF Little League as part of member input. Enrolled kids went from 170 to 250 kids this year alone, which represents a significant number of Association members. As a result, they have run out of field space and are renting field space at Solana Santa Fe at a cost of $10K per year. Adam stated that he would be working with Association staff to try to identify temporary or permanent field space to handle the large number of new families that have outstripped the Association’s facilities.

Secondary baseball field on a Saturday morning being used for spring training.

Golf Course Tree Planting

Bill Weber gave an update on the status of a community committee that was supposed to be formed to give input on a process to plant more trees around the golf course trails. He stated that forming such a committee has been delayed by the delay of the golf course remodel (the back nine is still not completely open), and now, staff shortages. He is also looking to fold this process in with a newly formed trail masterplan process (yet to be started). In other words, work on tree replanting is proceeding just as fast as I predicted it would four months ago.

Zumaque Gate Gets a Much Needed Upgrade

While most of Rancho is ungated, the Association does maintain a couple of access gates. The Zumaque gate was built about 30 years ago to stop non-residents from using Zumaque Street as a connector between east county and the coast with traffic that would clog up Zumaque and other Rancho streets. The Board approved a technology overhaul that will give the Patrol real time access information, key fob access control rather than easily shared gate codes, and real time video monitoring. All this was facilitated by the fiber based RSF Network which will replace the ageing and unreliable copper AT&T telephone line.

Zumaque gate upgrades.

Lot Coverage – Part 1

Association lawyer Bill Budd was on hand to explain to the Board that the Board had no choice but to approve this next item. So, of course, the Board then spent 20 minutes trying every which way to not approve it, and then accepted the inevitable and approved it 7-0, wasting everyone’s time in the process.

A member needed approval to build a tiny 324 sq ft Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in a corner of their 0.35 acre property. The ADU would push the property well over the 20% lot coverage limit imposed in the Protective Covenant, but a new CA law allows property owners to override HOA lot coverage restrictions and build up to 1,200 sq ft ADUs. So while the Art Jury is and was able to impose architectural aesthetic requirements, they couldn’t approve it due to 20% lot coverage limits. Hence they had to pass it up to the Board, which, as per the Association lawyer, had to rubber stamp approval according to CA law.

Lot Coverage – Part 2

Director Bill Strong got his resolution passed that, after being watered down, would “suggest” (before being watered down it was “direct”) to the Building Commissioner that all new Art Jury submissions by us members would need to include four new lot coverage calculations as a way of collecting data so that the Board could then agitate for further restricting what we may build on our lots.

So if the Building Commission implements this suggestion (and staff are short handed already), we members will be forced to do calculations on the square footage of all our hardscape (driveways, patios), trash enclosures, ground mounted solar, propane tanks, generators, and even retaining walls for our entire property every time we submit even a minor renovation project to the Art Jury. Just so that the Board could collect data and might then add these items into the lot coverage calculation at a future time.

This is insane and I’d like to think that the four people who voted for this didn’t understand the impact this would have on us members since it passed 4-3. Voting for were Directors Sapp, Kent, Lemarié and Strong.

The Art Jury already has discretion to disallow a project or ask for modifications based on mass and bulk and other aesthetic considerations. A parcel need not hit the 20% lot coverage limit before the Art Jury can require a project footprint reduction. This isn’t theoretical, it happens all the time and indeed, actually happened to me personally 20 years ago when I tried to build too massive a house – I was no where near the 20% lot coverage limit.

The Art Jury was again not consulted in the creation of this new policy. Director Comstock brought up that point and was ignored.

At this point, we can only hope the Building Commission does the right thing and puts this “suggestion” where it belongs.

Art Jury, Art Jury, Art Jury

This meeting had no less than six agenda items concerning the Art Jury. Most of them were discussed with zero Art Jury input. I will spare you most of the other items that were debated as I think (hope) they will have little consequence in the end.

One thing bothered me though.

Yet again, a Board member cast rather damaging aspersions against the Art Jury. Lemarié stated that “we had a rogue Art Jury that deliberately set aside the Design Guidelines”. I asked her what this was about post meeting and she said she had heard from two people that past Art Jury President Shaunna Salzetti-Kahn stated that “we are not using the Design Guidelines because it is too old”.

I talked with three Art Jurors that were part of that Art Jury (including Salzetti-Kahn) and they assured me they followed the Guidelines. Where the confusion might have arisen is that the Guidelines are in fact old and in some cases actually conflict with either the PC or the much more frequently updated Regulatory Code, both of which take precedence when making Art Jury determinations. In addition, the Design Guidelines are not written in precise language, and instead invite Art Jury interpretation since they deal with design, which is not something you should lock down in precise language (“Corbels must be longer than 5.5” versus “Corbels should harmonize with the building structure”).

Look, have your policy fights with the Art Jury, the PC, members, or whoever else, but Board members shouldn’t cast unsubstantiated hearsay aspersions against fellow volunteers. At the very least, talk to the people you hear odd things about. Playing the game of telephone in this community can be corrosive.

Speaking of Art Jury volunteers, Weber stated that he now has three qualified candidates for the still vacant position and will make an appointment at some future time.

Final Word – Association Board

My reporting has been displaying a frustration with the Association Board for quite some time now. So much so that when I talk to people about running for the Board this upcoming election, I usually get back some variation of “Hell no!” and point to my reporting on Board dynamics as the reason.

I believe recent Board dynamics (all these contentious long debates and 4-3 votes) has largely been caused by an unfortunate mix of clashing personalities, to put it diplomatically. I also believe that the four remaining Board members who are not terming off, Rick Sapp, Lorraine Kent, Greg Gruzdowich and Dan Comstock are good Board members. Oh, I’m not kidding myself that I would be aligned with them on all issues or that we would have the exact same way of approaching projects, but I believe they are reasonable people to work with.

If we get three additional candidates who know how to act on a board, I believe the new Board can be very functional and productive.

Please reach out to me if you’re at all possibly interested in running for the Board and I can give you the lay of the land and/or discuss concerns. The deadline for Board self nominations is March 11.

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