What Is Osuna Ranch’s Value? Priceless.

The Agenda for the RSFA Board Meeting tomorrow has been amended to include a proposal to approve an “Advisory Vote for Member Feedback” relating to the Osuna Ranch. This extremely premature proposal is a direct affront to the Osuna Committee’s recommendations and should be to anyone who respects our heritage. One of the options in the prospective survey is to actually sell Osuna. Because it was originally purchased with Open Space Funds, it should be protected to remain as such. And like a familial heirloom, Osuna’s value is intrinsic to who we are. You can’t put a number on a property so priceless. 

Historical Rancho Santa Fe has its history with walls made of clay, dirt, water, and straw, telling stories of past generations in a place called “Osuna Ranch.” Juan Osuna, the first Alcalde of San Diego, made his home here in the early 1830s. The Adobe, built by the Silva family, was modified by the famous architect Lillian Rice in 1924. The Osuna Adobe is the backdrop inspiration in the Rancho Santa Fe architectural history, resonating throughout our community aesthetics. Our downtown buildings mirror the images of adobes with treasured landmarks that define our community’s character today.

Local heritage 

The unique charm of Osuna is the architectural legacy we honor through our Art Jury and Protective Covenant documents. Preservation of historical adobes provides valuable insights into traditional sustainable building practices. School children come to Osuna to build bricks out of clay, water, and straw, and learn valuable lessons about our local heritage. (Adults love it too).  

Very few, if any, homeowner’s associations value open space and historical structures more than we do. So, some Board members think the Association should consider selling Osuna? Why is open space preservation even in question? It preserves our property values by making our community unique and special. If we don’t value and support the preservation of historical areas, then where is the historic in “Historic Rancho Santa Fe”?

Preserve what is becoming extinct

Our community is rooted in historic character, community values, and beliefs. Most homeowners appreciate the significant value and foresight previous RSFA Boards had to prevent zoning changes, the threat of building creep on smaller lots, and maintaining what is becoming extinct in Southern California: open spaces for parks and enjoyment so close to the ocean. 

The outside defendable areas are designated by design for one home for every 2.86 acres. The minimum lot size must be protected at all costs to preserve density and prevent it from ruining our community’s character. Our community must continually fight to maintain defensible space surrounding our homes and protect your property values. So many people said they moved here for the large rural lots. The map below was adopted in 2007.

So why the heck would anyone want to sell Osuna? 

The motives are questionable at best. Do we need the money? No. We increased our assessment by one cent (per every $100,000 of assessed home value) last October, and just got another 2.5 cents released from the fiber loan. Each cent equals approx. $600,000 (3.5 cent = over $2,100,000). 

A beautiful amenity for all

How about the edict “Never sell any community-owned land!” Homeowner Associations typically provide common areas, such as open spaces, parks, greenbelts, and natural preserves, which provide environmental benefits to all residents. Osuna offers historical value with a potentially beautiful amenity to all homeowners, protecting neighbors from overdevelopment.

The Association currently owns 47 parcels of land. Some have no community use, whereas Osuna provides a backdrop to the bi-annual celebration “Rancho Days,” the annual “Celebrate Osuna” and Farm-to-Table dinners, and visits from school children learning about our history, with so much more community programming given the opportunity.

A recent survey uncovered a need for an ample gathering space for the community. In 2016, as shown in the graph below, the Osuna Committee developed a five-year plan to build a historic-looking community barn that could host up to 300 people, along with restoration improvements to the Adobe, as well as adding educational programming. 

Osuna Ranch has much more potential for community use than previously described.

To name a few of the endless possibilities, imagine your daughter or son is married at Osuna Ranch in a large barn with a catering kitchen, restrooms, and extensive open views of the San Dieguito River valley below. The landscape has a touch of rural charm and serene views.

Or imagine you are holding your family reunion here, tasting wine, enjoying a late afternoon watching the sunset or your children play after school. 

Selling any Association-owned property erodes community cohesion and diminishes our sense of collective identity. Don’t let Osuna be sold. Save this piece of our history and sustain its value as a precious historical park at the heart of who we are. (Corrected version 4/3/24 – Editor)

Lorraine Kent is a past member of the Osuna Committee (2015-2021), and current RSFA Board member.

Leave a Reply