I just got off my father's New Year's conference call to clients, where he described the pattern of income and population migration from high-tax states to low-tax states. With the SALT deduction elimination in the latest tax bill, perhaps fellow residents will pack up their wagons and start galloping toward the unbridled and vast natural landscapes of Texas and Wyoming. There is something quite magical about these places beyond the after-tax bang for your buck. It's all that space. That wide open space that seems to stretch infinitely onward. You just want to close your eyes and take a deep yogic breath visualizing it. I mean, who hasn't fantasized about riding off into the sunset with a steely-eyed Clint glint in one's eye and the grit and glory of a settler's frame of mind - boundless and free. It almost makes you want to learn how to spit dip and scowl.
In a world of growing densification, space is indeed the most covetable. We here in the Ranch are so very blessed with such vast pastoral beauty, where one CAN actually saddle up one's horse in the backyard and giddy up across endless trails like Eastwood himself (keep the six-shooter and the snarl at home please).
The Covenant's iconic rural setting must not only be enjoyed by its residents, but protected by them. We must be vigilant in ensuring that our ambrosial slice of manna is not nibbled on to eventually be swallowed whole. There are a handful of developments brewing that all members should be aware of: 1) The proposed Rancho Librado project, which was discussed in length in Saiid Zarrabian’s op-ed “Save Our Ranch: Stop the Mabee Densification Project.” The SD County Court of Appeals heard oral argument on the Mabee case mid-December, and it was taken under submission. I am told that the Court will issue its ruling most likely early on in the year. 2) The proposed Quantum Estates II Villas of Rancho Santa Fe project to develop 35 homesites on 40+/- acres near the corner of Camino del Norte and Del Dios Highway. This would require modifying the Covenant Use Class Zoning from A to B, which would then permit more than 1 dwelling per 2.86 acres. 3) The proposed Sahm Family Foundation Del Dios Ranch project that includes 91 dwelling units on 210-acres comprised of the Covenant Sahm Estate (one dwelling unit) and adjacent unincorporated parcels northeast of the Del Dios Hwy/El Camino del Norte intersections for the remaining dwelling units. While the proposed project is outside the Covenant, there is concern that clustered housing on the Ranch’s border would affect the community, as it will require a County zoning change from rural residential one dwelling per two acres as it is currently zoned. The San Dieguito Planning Group has released a public notice that on Thursday, January 11, at 7PM, they will hold a regular meeting at the RSF Fire Station where the Sahm project will be discussed. All members are welcome. Please see link to the public notice here.
The point here is not to vilify developers. Progress inherently requires change. But while the Wild West sounds fun and all, a few ground rules help protect the peace. Our peace. Right here in the Ranch. There’s a reason why something like 90% of Jackson Hole is protected land. It causes all sorts of housing issues and the like, but it preserves the integrity and the character of what makes that town so very special. And those low taxes are indeed a thing to behold. Pause for meditative yogic breathing here.
Perhaps the key component to keep in mind is that once a zoning change is approved and in place, any developer could use that precedent for additional subdivisions and densification within the Covenant. Densification can’t be undone.
Space may be the final frontier, but I’ll let Sir Richard rocket ship out to some far off planet. I’ve got plenty of space right here in the Ranch. Let’s keep it that way.