In a recent letter to the Rancho Santa Fe Review, a member of a group called PIC asked whether “WE wanted to remain the rural, lovely, unique place that you have come to love and enjoy.”
This is one of many letters written and signed by members of the political action committee that has controlled almost every board, committee, and even the clubs in Rancho Santa Fe for almost 30 years. They have done everything from vetting and financially supporting Association Board candidates each election to placing members on nearly every committee in the community.
The group is known as PIC. Their California political action ID number is: 1043532.
Although the group surely consists of many good and upstanding members of our community, those that control the decision-making at PIC often confuse the term “we” and “our” with “the Rancho Santa Fe community.”
Unfortunately, members of the group have used its resources and influence to denigrate members of the community that oppose PIC’s agenda, always qualifying their attacks as a defense of “our” ranch.
So who is the “our” in “our” ranch? Who is the “we” in “we wanted”? And where does it leave “us” non-PIC members in the Rancho Santa Fe Community?
By and large, PIC members are some of the most tenured members of our community. Many have served to expand, promote, and brighten the things we love most about our beautiful town. No doubt, their experience and pride should be revered in the course of any community decision-making activity.
But “we” should be heard too.
“We” are the entire community. “We” are members of the community who are concerned that our infrastructure is not keeping up with the demands and expectations of a modern community. Many of the “we” are troubled to learn that millions of “our” dollars have been spent to purchase properties in the community like the Osuna Ranch and potentially the Garden Club building at the same time the value of our homes are declining.
“We” are asking, “Why?”
In a letter to fellow community members, two members of PIC had this to say about the over 100 members who signed the petition so our community should vote on the Garden Club building purchase:
“[L]ess than a handful of the names approving a no vote are involved in any of the community activities around RSF. Look at the endorsers of YES for the Garden Club, all are involved in RSF community activities, and some in multiple activities.”
While this quote does not likely define the sentiments of all PIC members, it is an attitude that has unfortunately come to define its objectives in many of “our” eyes. It is an attitude that champions entitlement over fairness; power over persuasion; and, division over community.
Have the PIC members quoted above suggested that anyone who disagrees with them should not be heard?
Is Ann Boon a heretic because she asked for transparency? Is Kim Eggleston’s opinion less important because he asked why millions of dollars of “our” HOA fees are being spent on unusually high salaries and community investments that don’t ever seem to produce a return in the form of higher home values?
If so, how do we define who “we” are?
This community is full of some of the most intelligent and accomplished individuals in the world. “We” run our own businesses. “We” manage thousands of employees. And we oversee billion dollar budgets.
“We” are soccer coaches, little league managers, Boy Scout, Cub Scout and Girl Scout leaders, room parents, bake sale bakers, library volunteers, charity volunteers, museum docents, preachers, and the list goes on…
Is asking for our right to participate in the governance of our own homeowners Association sacrilegious?
Those who shy from questions are generally afraid of the answer.
So we are calling on all of “us” to continue asking questions.
Does PIC’s “we” include the majority of association members who are calling for association transparency, staff accountability, and adherence to state law?
Does PIC’s “we” include the over 100 members of the community that have supported voter registration efforts that have already increased registration by over 20% and forced the Board to put registration forms on their website for the first time ever?
Does PIC’s “we” include those in favor of a simple and inclusive voting process, an end to financial irregularities and back room meetings, and board members who are not afraid to stand up to groups using character assassination and intimidation to get their way?
PIC probably does include a lot of these people. But are these the people who use their power within PIC to speak on behalf of “us?”
Ann Boon, an elected association board member with a fiduciary duty to represent “us,” not those who control PIC, asked some difficult questions not too long ago. The consequence? Some members of the PIC group wrote and signed a letter personally defaming her character, then wielded their longstanding power over staff and certain board members to get her ousted as president. They even suggested that other board members supporting the investigation of financial irregularities be recalled from the board.
Is this how “we” should answer questions?
Another PIC member who is also the wife of a current candidate for a spot on the Board, was one of those who helped spearhead the effort to oust Ann. She is quoted as saying that the ranch “was just fine as it was,” referring to Association members calling for association transparency “spoilers.”
Another long-time PIC stalwart echoed these sentiments by advising that, “members who don’t like the way we are running the ranch to just move out of the ranch.”
This PIC member even put these divisive sentiments into an editorial to the Rancho Santa Fe Review entitled It’s a Wonderful Life: “They don’t like what we have here and I am wondering why they moved here?”
So what about members with children who would like to discuss other ways to invest in our community that could raise the value of the community as a whole?
What about members who want to attract newcomers to the community by initiating a discussion over investing in inclusive recreation facilities?
We can’t have an unwelcoming community and expect the value of our homes to increase. And we can’t have a community at all if many of the “we” don’t get to participate in its governance.
“We” are old and young, newcomers to the community and long-time residents.
“We” are those looking ahead to possibilities, and backwards for reflection. We have something to add to the community discussion, and assert our right to say it.
“We” want an open forum, civil discourse, and transparency, respect of the law, accountability, and a board that represents the interests of all its members.
“We” are ready to work together to create a vibrant, transparent, and sustainable ranch.
Signed Below By Some of the “We”
William Bradford Weller