RANCHO SANTA FE — The Association board voted unanimously at its Sept. 6 meeting that the Open Space Fund and Policy be renamed the Covenant Enhancement Fund and Policy to more accurately describe how the funds have been used over the past 25 years since it was established.
Pete Smith, Association manager, said the way the funds have been used has changed over the years.
“It is inconsistent with the original mandate of the fund,” he said. “This is how to bring it into compliance.”
The Open Space Fund was established in 1984 at a rate of 2 cents per $100 assessed value. Its primary purpose was to preserve and enhance the rural character of the Covenant by acquiring undeveloped open space parcels, Smith said.
By 1995, the Open Space Fund had accumulated sufficient funds to begin looking for potential sites. An Open Space Task Force was created to make recommendations to the board.
“Originally one of the mission of the task force was to create a greenbelt around the village, but they soon learned that was impossible,” Smith said.
In 1996, Open Space efforts began leaning toward passive open space parcels. It became official in March 1996 when the board decided the fund be used solely for the acquisition of passive open space parcels.
Although the funds were supposed to be used for passive open space, they have since been used to buy ball fields, camping and picnic areas, parking lots and horse stables.
Since 1984, seven properties were purchased adding up to $16.2 million. Open Space Funds have also been used for improvements and renovations on certain properties such as the Osuna Ranch.
“I think this will more accurately reflect what is actually being done,” director Anne Feighner said.
The board also voted to announce to the community when they are looking at a property.
“We always hear that the board does things we (members) never hear about,” she said.
From now on, the board will run the proposed purchases by the community.
“It gives 30 days to get some community input,” Feighner said. ‘We have a lot of very smart people in Rancho Santa Fe.”
The Open Space Fund currently has $2 million, but is expected to expand to about $4 million when the house on the Osuna Ranch sells.
Now, the goal of he Covenant Enhancement Policy is to acquire properties and expend funds that will enhance the character of the Covenant through the preservation of its unique community attributes, which gives a lot of leeway to buy properties.
Said director Larry Spitcaufsky: “This is a major policy decision. It is so important.”