Parks plan progresses; 4 proposals considered

The Rancho Santa Fe Association held a town hall meeting on Tuesday night to get public input on four alternatives to improve the village parks. The association will continue to seek input on the designs and the board will discuss the concepts at least twice in public meetings before they make a decision.

Over the last 18 months, the planning committee has come up with three alternatives and the Art Jury recently submitted a fourth plan. Each plan at different levels improves pedestrian connectivity, adds parking spaces, simplifies traffic circulation and accommodates special park uses such as this week’s County Friends fashion show.

Holler said the parks currently have a few issues including damaged eucalyptus trees, lack of sidewalks and the large expanse of pavement in front of the Inn known as five-way intersection where streets all converge in a “large expanse of pavement.”

While some residents were still figuring out which alternative they liked best, Bob Sensibaugh said he was just glad the association was taking steps to make the parks a “real park.”

“It’s essentially a non-park,” said Sensibaugh, a 40-year Ranch resident. “What they need to do is improve the pedestrian character of the village. You’re taking your life in your hands when you go onto that five way intersection.”

Sensibaugh said he’d even like to see a small statue of Lillian Rice in a quiet, inconspicuous place in one of the parks.

“Just something that remembers her because she’s so critical to the ambiance of our village,” Sensibaugh said.

Of the alternatives, the first one is the simplest, offering textured crosswalks and additional trees at an approximate cost of $400,000.

Alternative two brings some additional amenities such as perimeter sidewalks, interior pathways and 17 parking spaces, and takes advantage of the natural slope of the northern park by putting in a lawn amphitheater. The alternative also realigns Lineo Del Cielo and El Tordo for both traffic and pedestrians. This plan could cost $750,000.

The third alternative presents the most drastic changes and is the most expensive. It connects the two parks and closes La Gracia and Linea del Cielo in front of the Inn.

“It does dramatically change the look of this portion of the village,” Holler said.

The plan calls for parking lots where the road was for a gain of 31 spaces. A country traffic study would be required and the plan as a whole could cost $1.5 million.

The Art Jury’s proposal focuses the most on improving the streets for pedestrians by adding decorative paving with crosswalks at the five-way intersection. La Gracia would become one way in one direction, with space for parallel parking along the side. A traffic study would be required to change La Gracia and the plan could cost $550,000.

Former association president Lois Jones, who during her time on the board had made parks her number one priority, said she prefers the second alternative best.

“I think the most important thing is to remember is that the parks are the signature to our village and to overdevelop them could diminish that significance,” Jones said.

All plans are available for viewing at the association office and at