Filing period closes soon for seats on special district boards for Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach areas


Seats on the boards of three “special districts” that provide such services as drinking water, sewage treatment and fire protection could be included on the November election ballot.

However, unless additional candidates file to run for the seats before the filing deadline, the decision on who will fill the seats will not be made by voters, but instead by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

The three agencies are the Santa Fe Irrigation District, the Rancho Santa Fe Community Services District and the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District.

The filing deadline for this fall’s election – meaning the date when candidates must submit paperwork to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters office – is Aug. 12. However, for any seat in which an incumbent does not file papers, the deadline is automatically extended five days, to Aug. 17.

The three agencies are among about 70 special districts in San Diego County, which provide a variety of services to residents. Information about filing to run for any of the open seats can be found at the Registrar’s web site,

The Santa Fe Irrigation District provides drinking water to residents of Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Rancho and Solana Beach. The district is overseen by a five-member board of directors elected by residents of five divisions. This fall, two seats are up for election: Division 1, covering Rancho Santa Fe, currently held by Greg Gruzdowich, and Division 2, in Solana Beach, held by Alan Smerican.

Gruzdowich has opted not to seek another four-year term. As of Monday, Aug. 1, only one candidate, Ken Dunford, a former irrigation district board member, has filed to run for the seat. Gruzdowich beat Dunford, a businessman and 10-year veteran of the irrigation district board, in the 2012 election.

In Division 2, Robert Feher, a real estate broker, has filed to run, while Smerican said he has not decided yet whether he will seek another four-year term.

The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District provides services for a 38-square-mile territory that runs as far east as 4S Ranch, and includes Rancho Santa Fe and a number of surrounding communities, which together have a population of 29,000 residents.

Three seats on the district’s five-member board are up for election this fall and the three incumbents – Jim Ashcraft, Nancy Hillgren and Randall Malin – have all filed to retain their seats.

Two seats on the five-member board of the Rancho Santa Fe Community Services District are also up for election in November – seats currently held by board members Doug Moul and Bill Hinchy. According to the Registrar’s office, as of Monday, Aug. 1, no candidates, including the incumbents, had filed to run for the seats.

The community services district provides sewage collection and treatment services for about 2,600 customers in Rancho Santa Fe. The agency also contracts with the Rancho Santa Fe Association to maintain the landscaping along 60 miles of county roads within the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant area.

If additional candidates file to run for seats on the three special district boards by the filing deadline of Aug. 12 or 17 (depending on whether incumbents file for re-election or not), voters would get to weigh in on the candidates in November.

However, if no additional candidates file before the deadline, the current candidates for the irrigation and fire district boards would be designated as winning those seats by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, said Elvira Vargas of the Registrar of Voters office.

If no candidates file to run for the community service district board, the positions would be advertised, and qualified applicants would then be appointed by the Board of Supervisors, Vargas said.

Another board with seats up for election this fall is the San Dieguito Community Planning Group. Eight of the panel’s 15 seats come up for election this year, and the deadline for filing is Aug. 12. The group advises the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on land-use and planning issues in Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch and surrounding communities.

So far, two people, incumbents Douglas Dill and Philip Fisch, have filed to run for planning group seats.