The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Our Black Hole Association

In astronomy, a black hole is a star so dense that its huge gravity lets nothing escape -- no light, no information.

I'm beginning to think it's an appropriate description for our Association Board.

First story, this one's quick: Did you know the Association was sued three weeks ago, in a lawsuit that affects every single Association Member? I asked a Board Member the other day when they were going to inform us of the lawsuit. "I don't know" was the answer. Click here to read the lawsuit, it won't take long.

Second story: Did you know the County is going to stick a stop sign in the middle of one of our busiest streets on Linea Del Cielo by Ramblas de las Flores/Calzada Del Bosque? No? Well, the Association Board does because the County briefed them on their plans and asked for input. Apparently the Board just shrugged their shoulders and said, "Whatev."

Not only did the Board not tell us, but they apparently don't even care what we think about it since they told the County to go ahead. Personally, I think this will be a horrible solution, since it will cause backups on Linea, and won't actually fix what they are trying to fix: less accidents. In order to fix the problem they have to address the root cause: the misalignment of the road. Re-alignment or a traffic circle are potential fixes that would actually solve the problem.

 RSF Street
By the way, remember what happened the last time the County "fixed" our roads for us? We got extra parking on El Tordo in the Village, at the expense of overloading our five way intersection in front of the Inn, causing even more potential for accidents. And it looks absolutely awful. The picture doesn't do true justice to how bad it looks. I've been to Third World countries that have more civic pride than this.

Third story: Over a year ago I was approached by another Member, pointing out that our Little League baseball field, used by our members when hosting other teams from around town, was a bit of an embarrassment since the only bathroom facility was a port-a-potty. I asked an Association staff member about this and it turned out the Association was actually working on building a permanent restroom. It would have been nice to know! And in over a year, they still haven't managed to tell anyone about this project. See my article on this issue here.

OK, so the Board is an informational black hole. Unfortunately I think the real problem is worse than just "bad at communicating" (which would be easy to fix).

I think the Board is drunk on power. As every denizen of large organizations will tell you, information is power. Give away information freely and you're eroding your power.

In the last couple of years, I've mooted the suggestion that a lot of what the Board controls should be delegated to individual Members. For example, that baseball field bathroom probably would be built by now if, instead of an overworked Association staffer working very part time on it, a regular retired Member with experience building things was delegated the task of working on it. Ah, but the Board effectively controls staffers, Association Members, not so much.

Delegation does not mean oversight abrogation. Obviously budgets, designs and plans still need to be approved by the Board. As does scope. But must Association staffers and exorbitantly paid consultants do everything? Why?

Anyways, if we could fix our communications black hole, maybe we could then work on civic engagement. Dare I hope for a small ray of light?