A Year in the Life

By Scott Thurman
originally posted in RSF Review

I ran for the RSF Association board to give back to my community — a community where I have spent a huge portion of my adult life, raised my children, and a community that I truly love. I feel blessed to be a part of this community. In our family we believe in service and giving back, so why not apply those same principles to the Association? One year in, this is what I have learned.

Davis-Stirling (Act) is a pain. One of the major tenets of Davis-Stirling was the standardization for all HOA developments. You know an HOA. These are three or four cul-de-sacs in a gated community, a shared pool, and some green space or dog walk. This is not like RSF. We are an HOA on steroids. A $30 million budget, almost 2,000 homes, a premier golf club, thriving tennis/pickleball facility, a historic horse facility, 60 miles of trails with an incredible variety of trees and flora, and hundreds of acres of open space. We are a unicorn. But we still need to adhere to Davis-Stirling. Governance is the buzzword. Some of the requirements of Davis-Stirling may seem silly, cumbersome, and inefficient, because much of it is. Well, like it or not, our hands are tied, and that’s the way we need to roll. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

What we do as a board is mostly small swings. Running for a position on the board, I wanted to add value to the community: revitalize the Village, renovate the RSF Clubhouse and campus, optimize Osuna, but instead, we deal with fining our neighbors for building code violations, approving contracts over $10,000 (thank you Davis-Stirling), personnel issues, and legal — more than you hear about and certainly more than I ever thought existed. So, if we are working on these little puddles every month, how do we advance projects that add value? Big swings. Well, we have a great staff and the director position is not just a once-a-month investment of your time. If you are old enough, like me, to remember the Ed Sullivan Show, we are like the guy spinning the plates. Each director has a few things in which to liaison or oversee and collectively, along with the staff, try to keep the plates spinning and move things forward. We have some great value we are ”spinning” towards but it takes time. We believe the work and the wait will be worth it.

Most of our member input comes from a select few that are passionate about their interests. Golfers, trail walkers, tree lovers, Osuna advocates — they all represent affinity groups. And because most of their time and friend circles revolve around these groups, their views and beliefs are siloed. As a board, we don’t have that luxury. We were elected to represent the entire community and despite some very vocal public opinion to the contrary, that is exactly what we try to do. So know that this is a balancing act of trying to provide value to the entire Association and to serve every member, not simply those with the loudest voices. If decisions are made that you may not love, ask yourself if it is one that adds value. Not everyone can agree on every decision.

I write this just a few days before July 4 and the Rancho Santa Fe 4th of July Parade. It will be packed with all types of families with all types of interests: long-time residents, new families, seniors, children. It’s an idyllic time in the village. A time that reminds us all to remember why we live inside the stones. I hope that your 4th was special and a reminder of our country’s fight for independence and the sacrifices made to self-govern. I look forward to serving you in year two.

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