The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Board Biz: There Is a Method

As a community, we have advanced our due diligence on a number of significant issues.

After substantial legal, regulatory, and financial review, for example, we have successfully negotiated a deal that will bring the fastest Internet service in the world to our members, and also provides a platform for new innovative cell phone coverage options. We are also in the midst of studying our governing documents, have almost completed a major accounting overhaul that puts us on the path of operating like a proper business, and increased voter registration by well over 25 percent in just two years.

But the issue that captures much of our attention, and rightfully so, is the Covenant Club. And the discussion over the Covenant Club deserves a comment from me to quell any rumors that we would ever proceed without caution, financial responsibility, or community approval.

Since late 2014, the Board supported the vote of the community to spend money on a feasibility plan for a pool and fitness center on the Association property near the Golf Club buildings and the Tennis Club. The Design Committee, working with architects and engineers, came up with a beautiful plan and design. Unfortunately, the location and the scale made many people unhappy. And the price tag -- well, you all know -- made us all take a step back.

Board members who had not been involved in the design process reacted like most of you back in February. We were alarmed by the cost and perplexed at the thought of financing such a project. The Board reiterated that once we received a feasible plan, we would send it to the community for a vote.

The Design Committee felt they had completed their assignment. We thanked them for their hard work and many hours of time they dedicated to the project. Now it falls to the Finance and Membership subcommittees of the Covenant Committee, within the current budget, to research less expensive options as well as all financing alternatives with the hope of eventually recommending a truly feasible plan to the Board.

Meanwhile, the Board and the community have other major projects that require our focus: gigabit Internet and cell service. The fiber project will be structured so that the Association will own our own fiber network allowing us to control the cost and quality of services. We will be in partnership with a major service provider who specializes in high-end communities and is at the leading edge of fiber technology innovation---including cell phone reception solutions that can leverage the same network.

Well, what does all this have to do with a Covenant Club project?

It is fairly simple:

First, RSF Association resources, in terms of money and staff time, must be focused on fiber and cell right now. The fiber project, in particular, is at a critical point.

Second, community dialogue, media attention and potential voting must be focused on solving this much-needed issue while the goal-line is within our reach.

This is why the Covenant Club has not been elevated to the forefront of the Board’s attention.

This Board, however, will not abandon the Covenant Club project. On the contrary, this Board is excited to see a more feasible proposal be put forward by those who are analyzing the first plan, the cost estimates, and the community’s initial feedback.

We all read the vehemently anti-Covenant Club letters in this paper every week. What you don’t see or hear are the emails and phone calls from other members of the community, both long-time residents and newcomers, who urge me just as passionately to keep pushing the Covenant Club conversation forward.

This isn’t a one-man show nor can I come up with a plan on my own. There are plenty of wonderful ideas out there to consider, from scaling back on the current plan, to moving to a different site on the property, to finding a totally different location. I will support any and all efforts to keep this project moving forward.

But for now, this Board needs to focus now on our community’s most critical projects. Soon the Board will need to make some decisions about investing in fiber so that we can put it to the community for a vote as well. The fiber project will have a huge and positive impact on our community, our home values, and our long-term financial success.

Once we finalize a responsible financial plan for the fiber project, which should be soon, this Board or the next Board will be able to give the Covenant Club project renewed focus. The club is a dream of great importance to so many. We owe it to this community to give this project the attention it deserves and to try to incorporate the various perspectives into a reasonable proposal that everyone will have a chance to vote on.