The Rancho Santa Fe Post

CDRC Confidential: Silencing the Bad Doesn't Make It Better

Regular readers of my monthly column know I promised to share "the good, the bad and the tasteful" during my tenure on the RSFA Covenant Design Review Committee (CDRC). "The bad" is the hardest to share. As a homeowner, I do not want to say anything negative about my HOA for fear of devaluing my property. But by remaining silent and suppressing the truth, RSFA Members cannot protect their home values from dumping like current markets. How can we get better if "the bad" is forbidden to be discussed?

For example, recently some brave moms who own homes here, had the courage to share bad news about our local school's academic test scores. Test scores at R. Roger Rowe are no longer at the level enjoyed a decade ago when my son attended the school. Like most residents, I had no idea. Big surprise: The school's attendance has declined. A school's academic reputation impacts property values.

These moms were concerned because rather than address the academic issues, the priority of the incumbent School Board is to build a new gym financed by a bond. (How is a new gym going to raise student test scores or property values?") These mothers wanted voters who elect School Board Members to know relevant facts, which required disclosing "the bad" news: We continue to be #1 in spending in the County, but didn't even make the top 10 in test scores. Upon learning "the bad" news, residents can now solve the problem by electing the School Board candidate whose priority is to improve our academic standing, not a bond for a gym.

Similarly, our CDRC is not immune from having "the bad," as alluded to in my year-end column "Holy Wars." Volunteers serving on the CDRC often come from the design and construction industry. As I reported in last month's "Out With the Old In With the New," the CDRC was fine-tuning a proposed amendment to an internal procedure to address abuse of Board Member discretion and prevent improprieties.

Case law permits reasonable, not "unfettered powers" to interpret and enforce the Ranch's version of the Constitution, the Protective Covenant (PC). An English Tudor with a 45-degree roof pitch is not a reasonable interpretation of "Latin" inspired or "Low pitched" (Par. 157, 160). Under case law, if we don't adhere to our CC& R's, we risk our ability to enforce them. Those structures already approved and built years ago may match their existing materials to avoid undue hardship; But keeping the dozen or so totally new buildings approved each year in conformance with the PC "general requirements" (Par. 156) shores up our right to enforce our CC & R's.

Fine tuning reached a snag, surprisingly, on the procedure requiring jurists to confirm that the Final Plans of those new building projects conform with the Protective Covenant, our CC&R's. One of the CDRC Members particularly expressed opposition to the proposed confirmation procedure. Since the CDRC derives its very existence from the PC, confirming conformance to it would not seem controversial. Hopefully, after further review, the CDRC will be able to implement the measure of accountability to RSFA Members. To protect their investment here, RSFA Members rely on the CDRC to do our appointed duty to enforce the PC (Par. 4). Your intrepid columnist will keep you RSF Posted.

The statements made in this column are the opinions of the author and not those of the Rancho Santa Fe Association Covenant Design Review Committee.