The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Op-Ed: Freeloaders

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Believe it or not, that’s the phrase I hear a lot when I go to the Golf Club where I am a member. Many golf members consider the Covenant residents who are not Golf Club members and who eat at the main club dining room to be freeloaders. For years, those golf club members have blamed all of their food and beverage losses on those Covenant residents and have stated that they are subsidizing those diners.

Now, the Golf Club is continuing to lose members each year and is failing to attract enough replacements. Because the Golf Club still has considerable debt and is approaching financial difficulties, I believe they would like for the Association members who are not members of the Golf Club to bail them out. It appears that is the main reason that the Golf Club has recruited and will endorse three individuals to run in the upcoming Association board election.

The Golf Club and Tennis Club (also in financial difficulty) want to control the Association for their own objectives.

Historically, only 25% of the people who lived in the Covenant were members of the Golf Club. Recently, only 15% of the new people moving here have joined the Golf Club. The Golf Club has long used the $50,000 membership initiation fees to cover their annual operating losses. In this way they have been able to write in the RSF Review and in the Divot and to make public statements that they are breaking even. Some of us who have accounting backgrounds may not agree with their statements.

What happens when new memberships fall and those $50,000 initiation fees fall more than they already have? Do you want to subsidize my golf?

In 2006, the Golf Club borrowed $11.1 million. Now, 10 years later they still owe over $5 million. They do not project paying this debt off until after July, 2022.

Meanwhile, they are also searching for desperately needed alternate and secondary water sources. Some estimates have put the potential cost of these water sources as high as $12 to $15 million. Golf Club members just won't have that money.

So, unless you like the idea of paying for their operating losses and paying off their debts from Association dues, you should consider wisely how you vote in the upcoming Board election. Yes, the Golf and Tennis Club members are making this election about the Covenant Club. However, in the future, Association Board issues won't be about the Covenant Club. No, the issues then will be that the Golf Club will need money to fund their debt payments and they will need money to fund their operating losses!

Your Association Board may decide to give them your money. THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT IN OUR BYLAWS THAT REQUIRES THE ASSOCIATION BOARD TO HAVE A PUBLIC VOTE. NOT EVEN IF THERE IS A PETITION! THINK ABOUT OSUNA! You did not get to vote on that $12 million expenditure, did you? Do you want the money that could be used for Fiber to Home to be used to bail out the Golf Club?

We golfers are already getting the most generous deal ever given. Our dues are extremely low compared to comparable clubs. In part, this is because we are allowed to use 185 prime Covenant acres for free! Torrey Pines and Fairbanks pay hefty leases to the city of San Diego.

Three of the candidates running have only the interests of the Golf Club and the Tennis Club at the forefront of their agendas. They are not concerned about the welfare of all the members of this community.

I certainly want both the Golf Club and the Tennis Club to be on sound financial footing and to have strong, healthy futures. I believe the members of the Golf Club and of the Tennis Club should be responsible for achieving those goals.

There are six candidates running for three open seats on the RSFA Board. I will be voting for the three candidates who truly care about all the members of the community, not just those who have chosen to join the Golf Club or the Tennis Club.

Please join me in voting for Rachel Laffer, Rachel Leheny and Terry Peay.