The Rancho Santa Fe Post

CDRC Confidential: That’s Not PC

“PC” means “politically correct” to most people. But, to me, PC means the Protective Covenant that encompasses property located within the Rancho Santa Fe Association (RSFA). (E.g., “That architecture is not PC.”). Some background: I was born in La Jolla and grew up in a mediterranean in Los Angeles built by a contractor as his retirement home following a trip to Italy. It had all the features sought today: An indoor and outdoor kitchen, herb garden adjacent to both, balconies, patios, tile roof & stucco, so it was cool in the summer, warm in winter. If you are originally from Oklahoma, Montana or Illinois, you might not understand California’s appreciation of its Latin roots, as expressed in Paragraph 157 of the PC “. . . that distinctive type of architecture which for several decades has been successfully developing in California, deriving its chief inspiration directly or indirectly from Latin types, which developed under similar climatic conditions along the Mediterranean . . .”

We embrace our sophisticated Spanish heritage. It’s Rancho Santa Fe, not Springfield. For a while, I lived in a cute clapboard colonial in Greenwich, Connecticut, where my friends with their anglo-centric viewpoint believed nothing happened in California until the Gold Rush of ‘49. My house in the back country was perfect for New England, and I enjoyed the culture of nearby New York. But, let’s face it, I missed Mexican food. And, as my son who was born in Greenwich says about the weather, “If you don’t ski in it, what’s the point?” Back we came to my native state of California. 

Who knew that topical headlines about a “wall” would be playing out here in the RSFA with discussions of what is PC? Currently, the CDRC is considering the issue of ranch-style architecture. In researching the topic, I studied the distinction between "American ranch" and "rancho" as in Osuna, the historic building built in Rancho Santa Fe in the 1830’s. I studied the "rancho" style of architecture of the 1930's in Santa Barbara. I learned that English and Scandinavian colonists brought with them the style of board and batten siding seen on barns as they settled on farms in the North East and Midwest. Board and batten is popular now on American ranch-style homes you see about. I personally find them charming painted in a fresh white color with black accents, but like Georgian architecture which I also adore, it is not our California Spanish Colonial heritage. 

Some past Art Juries approved starkly modern homes of their fellow jurists which were clearly not Spanish Colonial; they also permitted popular styles to be built that were not PC. Over our 90-year history, there have been some improprieties, but that is no longer true. The Covenant is enjoying a renaissance, where transparency in governing, proper accounting, and investment in infrastructure of fiber optics is our path. Last year only about 14 completely new homes were built in the Ranch. Adhering to the PC for the limited amount of new construction, while allowing those who purchased non-mediterranean-style houses to maintain their design for additions or improvements, is a good solution to avoid undue hardship and keep everyone happy. 

In an earlier column on pink pagodas, I wrote about the Covenant’s protection of harmonious views. Open any book entitled, "Beautiful Villages of Spain/Provence/Tuscany," and you will find continuity in the type of architecture used which creates the picturesque views appreciated worldwide. This is one of the reasons why your husband or wife wants to go somewhere in the Mediterranean for summer vacation -- not West Jordan, Utah. By keeping to the type of architecture specified in the PC, the RSFA can remain a "Beautiful Village," too. 

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not the Covenant Design Review Committee.