Board apologizes for lack of communication, which brought mistrust
A lack of communication between the Rancho Santa Fe Association and its members played a big role in the latest issues surrounding the Dacus property, Manager Pete Smith acknowledged at last week's board meeting.
The board was set to approve the 1.28-acre lot on El Fuego as a temporary site for the Rancho Santa Fe Patrol, but Smith took some time to clear up confusion surrounding the property and the association's role with it. The property was sold to the Rancho Santa Fe School District, which plans to use it as a construction storage area and in the future for traffic circulation and playing fields.
"For various reasons, there was a lack of information given to the membership, which leads to misunderstandings, distrust and suspicion," Smith said at the May 21 meeting. "I'd like to apologize for that."
Association President Lois Jones said meetings are always open, information and agendas are available - it's just whether or not people take the time to participate.
"Everything goes along quietly," she said. It isn't until there's an objection that it suddenly becomes a loud public issue."
Neighbor Rich Marr argued that he looked back at agendas all the way to September and didn't see the Dacus topic on the agenda.
Issues still seen
Marr said he accepted Smith's apology, but he still believes the association to be in violation of the regulatory code on the Dacus property and that the patrol is not an allowed use by the county on that site.
Smith said that the property was designated H, a public use designation, back in 1997. The H classification allows for a patrol use.
"From our perspective, it's zoned H and the county has given us a permit," said Director Tom Lang.
The association has been looking for a new home for the patrol since June 2006, when the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District asked the patrol to vacate their station where they had been housed due to the district growth.
While recent negotiations give them until Sept. 1 to leave, the association moved a temporary trailer onto the Dacus lot on April 9.
"It was important for the patrol to get established in its new location as soon as possible to make sure there's no drop in service to our members," Smith said.
The permanent place for the patrol is ideally off Dacus, Smith said, and they are working toward having a joint facility at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.
In the past month, neighbors questioned the role that the Association played in prepping the site for the school district. Residents alleged that the association didn't have proper permits to tear down the Dacus home, that the association cut away sensitive vegetation and that they trespassed onto private property.
Ivan Holler, covenant administrator, said that vegetation removed on site was all within the Dacus property line and noted that they kept existing vegetation on La Granada and Mimosa and will be re-planting to provide screening of the trailers.
The neighbors were right that the association did not have a permit for demolition of the home on March 31; it was incorrectly assumed that the demolition contractor had gotten one, Holler said.
The permit wasn't obtained until April 2, but Holler said all the permit really ensures is that the gas and electric are turned off (which they were on March 31) and provides data to the census on demolished houses.
There is a penalty of double-fees for demolishing a structure without a permit, which would have cost the association $236 instead of $118, but the county decided not to make that assessment, Holler said.
Additionally, the association also acknowledged trespassing on the Mature property, due to a property line error. They have allowed for a 4-foot buffer until the property line is determined by a survey.