The Rancho Santa Fe Post

CDRC Confidential: Drive By

“The owner likes your driveways. They want to do something like it, but it’s expensive.” The house across the street is being remodeled matching existing type of architecture and materials. As always with improvements in our HOA that follow the General Requirements of the Protective Covenant (PC Par. 157-160), I am thrilled. Flattered, too, in this case, that my neighbors like my cobblestone/sett (see driveway in RSFA Lily Award photo below). And, yes, custom details reflecting the artistic hand of man, are even more expensive today than when we built. Such expenses explain why custom homes in the Covenant are priced differently than nearby developments that include production housing.

The PC Preamble states “Rancho Santa Fe is unusually attractive and valuable as a high class place of residence because of the rare quality of...improvements established by its property owners” and their goal of “upholding the quality of all future... improvements...”

Recently, the Covenant Design Review Committee (CDRC) reviewed a building site where machined commercial pavers were installed by a successful professional homebuilder and seller. Machined pavers are certainly more attractive than asphalt, but there is also something special about arriving on a driveway of cobbled stone sett. It sets, pun intended, the stage for a residence (see my August 2, 2017, column, “The Real Thing”).

New houses sell well particularly in San Diego County. Buyers in other parts of the state, country, and world appreciate the value of building materials and labor of the past. My RSF friends with additional residences in Denver, Chicago, or London have homes in these other areas from a century ago which have been remodeled for that very reason. “They don’t make it anymore,” or, if so, the cost is prohibitive. Adding new appliances or painting interiors is less expensive and easier than building major exterior features. In RSFA it also means the building is not subject to CDRC review because the CDRC is concerned with exterior aesthetics.

CDRC Policy 3 provides, “Any major modification of the landscape must be approved by the CDRC.” It lists the procedures for major driveway modifications, including a change of location, grading, size greater than 10 percent and a change in color or materials such as asphalt to light concrete. The CDRC looks for less formal and curvalinear driveways, as illustrated in the photo, that harmonize with our rural character -- not urban rushed, but peaceful meandering.

Last year the CDRC reviewed 432 applications, including entry gates, and, to a lesser extent, driveway material. Only about a dozen applications each year are actually for construction of totally new residences or commercial buildings in the RSFA. This means those wanting to live in the Covenant may find themselves looking for a remodel with good construction and materials, or, as we did, buying a “teardown." Our prior home in Palo Alto was originally built in 1927 and remodeled with an addition. Having built from scratch as well as remodeled, I know remodeling an existing home having quality materials and construction is faster, easier and cheaper. Whatever the choice, if it involves exterior changes, members will be driving by our Association offices to file an application. Maybe we should install a “drive-thru” window...

Statements made in this column are the opinions of the author and not those of the Rancho Santa Fe Association Covenant Design Review Committee