Rancho Santa Fe- The June 4th Rancho Santa Fe Board of Directors meeting was expecting such a large audience that the meeting was moved across the street to the Garden Club. The crowd of 80 came to the meeting to voice their opinions and concerns about the roundabout vs. signalization debate, as well as the proposed changes to the Village Market properties.
The Intersection Debate Continues
Last month, the RSFA Board voted unanimously to author a letter to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in support of installing traffic lights at the major intersections in the Paseo Delicias corridor. Their decision came after a community meeting in which a large majority of people in attendance favored installing traffic lights.
Sensing an eagerness from the audience to address the intersection debate, Association Manager Bill Overton started the meeting by opening the floor to public comment.
The first person to approach the podium was Rich Carlson, a 27-year resident and a staunch supporter of roundabouts. Mr. Carlson is also the router behind the recent petition asking the board to reconsider their position on installing traffic lights and instead put the issue to a community-wide vote.
“We realize that this is a divisive issue…. We are here to respectfully request that community-wide vote be held on this issue,” he said.
Mr. Carlson argued that many members of the community were not aware of the board’s decision despite a community-wide meeting held on the topic in April. He pointed to the over 400 signatures that his petition has gathered since the board's decision as evidence that there was a sizable portion of people in the Ranch that preferred a roundabout option.
Other association members were equally passionate about putting the issue on the ballot.
“We feel like we have been left out of the process,” said Vida Siino. “Other beautiful communities like Santa Barbara and Montecito have been installing roundabouts as opposed to traffic lights for the past few years to maintain their rural village charm. I believe Rancho Santa Fe is comparable to those communities.”
Still, other community members felt that there has been adequate opportunity for community input and that the board had made a decision on that input.
“The signatures are coming from people that are not informed,” said Phillippe Charat. “People who are signing (the petition) should be aware that they are signing a vote of no confidence in their board.”
Mr. Charat, also a member of a group that has actively supported signalization, went on to argue that the petition process was disturbing Association business and “upending” community plans.
Since there was not an item on the agenda that addressed the intersection debate, the board could not take any meaningful action. However, because the petition in favor of roundabouts exceeded 100 signatures the board will have to make a formal decision on whether or not to place an intersection decision on the ballot.
The Village Market
The next major discussion focused on proposed changes to the Village Market, formerly Stumps Market, owned by the Woolley family. The new plan would split the market property into two separate leasable spaces while building a two story building where the current post office is located.
The plan has become controversial because it would displace the current market and would require a variance from the board in order to construct the new office space.
The new proposal comes after years of legal battles between the landowners, Susan Wolley and Stumps Village Market. The lawsuits centered around which party was responsible for the property’s maintenance. As a result, the current property has accumulated a significant amount of maintenance costs, a serious obstacle for potential new renters.
Still, over 80 members of the community attended the meeting to voice their opposition to the proposed changes.
Focusing on the lack of business diversity, Connie McNally, resident and local business owner, highlighted the fact that new retail space would just give way to realtors and banks who already dominate a majority of the office space in the Village
“The Village has dwindled and business has dwindled with it,” she said.
Most members in attendance spoke against the proposed project and outlined the need to have community pillars like grocery stores, retailers, and restaurants. With high rent prices and a relatively small customer base, many retailers and restaurants have been cautious about locating to the Village.
This sentiment was echoed by a representative of the Wolley family, who said that the family wanted to have a grocery store in the new project, but were having trouble locating one because of the small customer base. The representative said that a small space with less rent would help in attracting a vendor who could serve the community on a smaller scale.
Because the discussion was only an informational session, the board took no action. What is clear is that the Association will have to issue a variance in order for the project to move forward.