On Thursday, June 1, 2017, the Board of Directors of the Rancho Santa Fe Association (RSFA) approved by a 5-2 vote a project with a variance at the entrance of our community called “Gateway.” It still has to come before the Covenant Design Review Committee (CDRC) where yours truly sits for final approval. The project has quite a history, but most people’s interest centers on the inclusion of a 5,000 square foot market in the building (no guarantee, but a good faith effort).
To many, it seemed like getting a major sports complex built downtown would have been easier and faster than this project. Our desperation for a local market reminded me of the lower 9th ward in New Orleans. Our “ghetto” faces the current economics of local retail grocery stores. The economics of local gas stations are also an issue with the gas station being removed “to make way for Gateway.” Like many projects where community leaders try to meet local needs, there have been competing interests and challenging issues. Both the Gateway owners and the developer are fellow RSFA members. I just started my term on the CDRC, so this will be the first time the project will come before me.
I was not a fan of the demolition of the charming historical building at the front of the Gateway site. It helped set the tone of Rancho Santa Fe greeting visitors for almost a century. While the gas station is convenient, I understand its removal. I personally think they should put in a charging station along with Gateway’s planned underground parking. Nothing says forward thinking than replacing a fossil fuel retailer with a charging station!
For our equestrians, a hitching post would be a lovely touch too, especially since we pride ourselves on our multitude of horse trails, along with a riding club and stables at Osuna Ranch.
However, these gestures will not be the concern of the CDRC at a Final Plan Review, which considers matters such as consistency of plans and approval of materials. (Please see our new CDRC Procedure for Plan Review that our new staff and I have spent hours trying to make clearer and easier for users.) My job on the CDRC is “to interpret and enforce” the Covenant that runs with the Gateway property like the other real estate in RSFA (Cov. Par. 4.). We’ll see how it goes. Who knows, we may just get a touch more much needed retail back in the Ranch like the good ol’ days.
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.