The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Op-Ed: Let's Look at the Big Picture!

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I read with interest Allen Finkelson's advertisement in the Review titled, "Time to Differentiate."

The election should be about ideas. All the candidates running for the RSF Board are fine and decent members of our community. But we do have very different ideas about good governance and the future of the Covenant. 

Mr. Finkelson rightfully points out that three candidates, Rachel Laffer, Rachel Leheny, and myself have a very similar approach to governance and share a common belief in the positive trajectory of our current Board. The three of us also want high-speed Internet, better cell service, amendments to the governing documents that simplify registration to bring our documents into conformance with Davis-Stirling, and the right to vote on major expenditures. 

I have no doubt that Mr. Finkelson is an excellent corporate lawyer and I appreciate all his hard work on the Governing Documents Committee. But when he speak of the "importance of sharing information and listening, understanding and responding to stakeholders," I don't know why he doesn't apply this fiduciary duty to the community's right to vote when a final CC plan is reached.

To me, it doesn't matter if a Board member is for or against the CC. What matters to me is that all Board members respect the community's right to vote. Shareholders have rights and so should community members.

Mr. Finkelson is critical of the existing Association Board, while expressing his desire to "preserve the rural character of the Ranch" in order to "improve cell phone service without using 90' towers" and "solve our broadband issues." On each of these issues, I completely agree.

The problem with Mr. Finkelson's analysis is that the existing Board, which for the first time in about 20 years finally solved the roundabouts issue and has executed a deal to bring high-speed Internet to the Covenant, has increased voter registration by 82%, and has put every major decision to a vote of the community even though they didn't have to. 

And anyone who suggests that the Board hasn't done the hard work it takes to lead by consensus isn't being fair to the seven volunteer Board members who spend almost every day getting their hands dirty.

Jane van Praag wrote, in the April 28th issues of the "Review," a very informative article about the past governance and history of the RSF Association. Previous Boards amended the bylaws 12 times since 1990 and did nothing to improve voter registration, limit directors' spending authority, or engage the community on major expenditures of the community's assets, including the $12 million purchase of Osuna Ranch.

Mr. Finkelson complains about the polarization that exists in our community, and again, I completely agree with him. However, where we differ is who is causing the polarization. 

Mr. Finkelson is also concerned with the turnover of staff. When you transition from a longtime manager who embodied the very controlled and secretive governance that we are moving away from, it creates turnover in both personnel and consultants. Turnover can be a good thing and in this case, it is. 

Mr. Finkelson has also threatened to sue the Association (aka "all of us") over the legality of the Community Enhancement Fund. His opinion on the Covenant Enhancement Fund is in direct opposition of the HOA's legal counsel's opinion and another outside, third-party legal expert's opinion. We shouldn't be in the business of suing ourselves to solve a problem, no matter how good of an attorney we might be. This is the same fund (previously the "Open Space Fund") that has existed for many years. It's also my understanding that due to the previous Board's accounting errors that $1.6 million CEF funds are being used to replace reserves that were unaccounted for. 

Mr. Finkelson is also correct that Rachel Laffer, Rachel Leheny, and I have stated our platform and what we are running on. I think it's time for the other candidates to explain where they stand on the issues as well. 

I understand that many of his slate's supporters are against the CC no matter what! But whether these supporters call themselves PIC, the "RSF Homeowners Group," or any other name, it appears to me that it's just the same familiar faces trying to take back control of the Board for themselves. 

Rachel Laffer, Rachel Leheny, and I are adamant that the community should be entitled to vote on the CC and other important matters. The opposition's voices will be heard at the ballot box, but to deprive the rest of us the right to vote is unconscionable.