RSF Tennis Club defends its guest fee policy

RANCHO SANTA FE — During the Rancho Santa Fe Association’s March monthly board meeting, approving the tennis club’s governing documents was on the agenda. Association board member Allen Finkelson introduced the resolution highlighting how it would cover the managerial, operational, and financial responsibilities.

“For the first time, we’ve had a resolution for establishing an independence of the tennis club as an independent body. It was operated that way, but it didn’t have the same pro forma relationship with the Association that the golf club did,” he said.

During the course of agenda item, Association board member Mike Licosati questioned the variances between the tennis club’s guest policies as opposed to those mandated by the golf club. Licosati ultimately voted against the resolution because of what he viewed as to be inconsistent.

Finkelson offered various responses to Licosati.

“They (clubs) are different in the respect that golf does not limit a Covenant resident from being a guest whereas tennis does limit a Covenant member from being a guest,” Finkelson said.

Finkelson also noted that both clubs do offer playing privileges to Covenant members. The tennis club limitation, he said, was based on the potential loss of membership.

Licosati objected to how Covenant members incurred guest fee costs of $1,000 a year, which equated to roughly $80 per round, as opposed to non-residents that paid a fee of $12.

“That to me belies logic. I mean, the Association membership owns the property that the Tennis Club is on and to discriminate against residents and charge them more than non-residents to me is unfair and unconscionable and I doubt it could survive legal scrutiny,” Licosati said. “I mean, how does that make any sense? The other issue is employees of the tennis club are allowed to bring guests for no guest fee at all.”

On hand was Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club President Dave Van Den Berg who shared how this policy had been in place for a long time.

“There’s a lot of things that existed in this Association that were wrong previously that we need to correct, and this is one of them,” Licosati shot back.

Van Den Berg pushed on and said how a fair percentage of the people that belong to the Tennis Club aren’t in the Ranch throughout the entire year. Even with a membership payment, they don’t use the club 12 times a year, he said.

“So if we put a provision in that allowed them to just pay a guest fee of $12, we would lose a significant amount of revenue to the club, that’s one aspect,” Van Den Berg said. “The second aspect is that over half of our membership really doesn’t even use our tennis club. They support our tennis club. But the number of times they use the club, which is over 100 members that represents $100,000 to the tennis club is one-third of our entire revenue.”

Van Den Berg wanted Licosati to know that if Association members paid a $12 fee instead of $1,200 a year that would place the revenues of the tennis club in significant harm.

“We would, in fact, be losing a considerable amount of money,” Van Den Berg said. “As a tennis club, and standing on our own, such as our resolution says, then I find no other way for us to proceed financially.”

The last point Van Den Berg made was the club’s comparison to others in the area. While the RSF Tennis Club charged $100 a month for its members at the club, others ranged from $300 to $700.

“We are charging one-third to one-seventh of what all the other tennis clubs in this area charge.  That is a tremendous benefit to the people who live in the Covenant,” he said.

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