The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Wake Up Homeowners: The RSFA Is About to Hijack Our Property Rights

As many residents may be aware, the RSFA Board recently approved posting proposed new rental regulations for a 30-day public comment period before deciding at their Dec. 7 meeting to implement these rules. These proposed mandates are so overreaching, even homeowners who are against Covenant rentals should be deeply uncomfortable with the Board’s encroachment on our rights as property owners. Many concerned community members are doubting whether this public comment period will even make a difference, as it appears the Board’s increasingly autocratic form of leadership outright rejects dissenting voices outside its favored cohort. The majority of the Board was elected to serve the entire community, not a chosen few. This must stop now.

The proposed rules are as follows: prohibits vacation rentals as defined by anything less than 30 consecutive days; it prohibits advertisement of short-term rentals; it requires that a lease be for an entire dwelling and not merely for a portion of a dwelling or guest house; and members who rent dwellings subject to the regulation must notify the Association manager in writing with the names of all occupants, the make, model and license number of all occupants’ vehicles, the telephone number and the e-mail for the tenants, the number and type of pets kept by the occupants and a complete copy of the lease and “any other information reasonably needed by the manager.”

The Board yet again is attempting to pass more regulations to supposedly protect and enhance the Covenant, which, in turn, will bolster our home values, and yet the end result will do just the opposite. Rancho Santa Fe will always lag far behind its neighboring communities in residential value buoyancy and appreciation if our leadership continues to shoot itself in the proverbial foot.

We don’t need more regulations, we need a grocery store, a more service-orientated post office, more restaurants, more affordable water, a more dynamic and fun club house catering to all members of our community, a convenience store, a village that doesn’t look half dead and derelict — basically all of the quality-of-life amenities that other communities expect for probably half the price we’re paying for not so much. The Board should be trying to tackle and solve these major problems and leave the home rental issues alone. If people will rent in our community that has stone-age Internet services and a lifeless village (cue tumbleweed rolling down Paseo Delicias), let them come!

Community revitalization is a far bigger fish that needs to be fried than the guppy VRBO (vacation rental by owner) market (RSFA Manager Bob Hall has identified 33 homes that are being used as vacation rentals). More red tape just weakens our hobbled housing market even more, and makes us even less competitive with neighboring towns like Del Mar, which has implemented far less restrictive rules on vacation rentals than what the Board is proposing. For example, how would one go about finding a rental in the Ranch if an homeowner can’t post it on the Internet? Sandwich-board soliciting in front of the old Stumps barren store front? Or perhaps scrawling something up on an old index card for the community cork board would be better. The options are endless...If there are concerns about noise control and events and parties being held at a rental property, there are already rules in place in the Covenant to prevent such problems — they just need to be enforced. Indeed, one of the biggest complaints Ranch friends share with me is that the Board is practically impotent when it comes to penalizing members who do not stick to the already established Covenant rules and regulations. If there are no repercussions, then what’s the point of the rules already in place.

One of the biggest concerns voiced regarding vacation rentals is that homes in the Ranch will be bought exclusively for the sole use of VRBOs and Airbnbs. The easy fix to that is a cap on how many days a home can be used for short-term rental per year (which Del Mar and Solana Beach already have in place). The other fear would be the lost revenue for local businesses; oh what, for, like, the Inn? We don't really have much else... With so few short-term rentals, this business-impact concern is laughable.

What is a bit comforting is that even certain RSFA Board members stuck their necks out and publicly shared their concerns over the excessive nature of some of the stipulations. But I do wonder whether the Board’s party line will take precedence as usual, and member objections will be silenced. Director Ken Markstein remarked, “Isn’t this a little bit much? Are we going to ask for the pets’ names too?” New Board member Mike Gallagher also noted that the RSFA probably doesn’t even know the makes and models of his own cars, and warned, “The more restrictive we become, the less attractive we become and I’m a little afraid of the slippery slope situation.”

The RSFA Board has proposed these regulations and voiced their opinions -- now is your chance to voice yours. All of us should have a say in the future of our RSF HOA freedoms and rights as property owners here. If we do nothing, then we can expect the Board’s culture of over-reaching to continue in many future forms.

As Covenant homeowners we have until the next RSFA Board meeting on Dec. 7 at 5pm to respond to the proposed regulations. I highly encourage members to at least send a letter to the Board before Dec. 7 to express his or her opinion. The email to write to is christy@rsfassociation.org, or you can always send a letter in the mail or drop one off at the the RSFA office. Feel free to cut and paste the points made above if it's easier.

In addition, all of us should make an effort to attend the next Dec. 7 RSFA meeting at 9am, as there will be an opportunity for member input at the beginning. Normally, there are about 25 of the same people who show up each time from the same demographic with the same opinions. Please consider taking the time to speak out at the meeting or show up to cheer on those who are willing.

This is the future of our town and our private homes. If we don’t stand up, then we are allowing the Board to dictate to us. Please join me in protecting our rights as property owners.