An acquaintance of mine described her neighboring gated community as “a charm-free zone." In contrast, anyone who has dined on the patio at the Inn and gazed across the lawn to the village below, is reminded how we have managed to retain most of our charm thanks to our special Covenant and our adherence to its provisions at the insistence of the RSFA Covenant Design Review Committee (CDRC).
Property owners in some neighboring communities are free to build whatever they fancy. Those communities look like Disneyland, with Sleeping Beauty’s Old-World, European-style castles plonked down next door to futuristic houses beamed right out of Tomorrowland. Other gated communities have locked their homeowners into dated styles, where the location might be right on trend, but with rows of '80's Art Deco pink-stucco façades. One almost expects a tanned Don Johnson (white-jacketed with sockless dockers of course) to bust out of a front door while the Miami Vice theme song punctuates his swagger.
Thankfully in Rancho Santa Fe we have the Covenant to maintain our timeless style, but only if the CDRC is vigilant. Covenant Paragraph 157 stipulates that homes must conform with “that distinctive type of architecture which for decades has been successfully developing in California deriving its chief inspiration directly or indirectly from Latin types which developed under similar climatic conditions along the Mediterranean or at points in California, such as Monterey.” The above stipulation should play on loudspeaker in the parking lot outside the CDRC on a loop like the airport drop-off recording mind-numbingly reminding drivers that the area is “for passenger loading and unloading only.” If you drill it in long enough, it would lodge in one's grey matter like a mantra.
Past solutions by the CDRC were to permit a modern fantasy (or nightmare) to be hidden by landscaping, but this is counter to the open rural vision of the Ranch. A key feature of the Covenant is the open pastoral views from its winding roads, unlike those of Bel Air lined by thick hedges and fortress walls. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate all types of architecture (the architect on that power plant mentioned in my first column was IM Pei.) But, I also know how beautiful and peaceful it is to see a sophisticated and harmonious aesthetic, whether it be in Europe or California (see snapshot below from my backyard -- no jutting eyesores, just seamless serenity across a Covenant vista.)
As any experienced suspect under fire in film noir would say, “That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it." Sticking to the narrative of the Covenant vision of architecture keeps our community looking attractive. The CDRC must stick to its mission, as stated in Covenant Paragraph 153, “to preserve the attractiveness . . . and prevent . . . inharmonious design that would depreciate neighboring property.” Which brings me to that six-story pink Pagoda with metal flake eaves your brother in law wants to borrow the money to build. Chinatown is a film noir classic, just not our Covenant style.
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.