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Association board addresses concerns in letters to CDRC

RANCHO SANTA FE — Rancho Santa Fe Association board President Ken Markstein read two letters for the record from the board to the Association’s Covenant Design Review Committee (CDRC) at its Feb. 7 monthly board meeting. The introduction to the first letter underscored how legal counsel notified the board that the CDRC was subject to the board’s “oversight and supervision.” The letter then spelled out how it was the board’s responsibility to ensure that the CDRC was enforcing the requirements of the Protective Covenant, Residential Design Guidelines, and Regulatory Code on a “fair and consistent” basis.

Markstein read how the Covenant’s subdued and rural character is what defined Rancho Santa Fe. To maintain this, the CDRC should continually implement designs which enhance and preserve natural landforms, architecture aimed at “restraint and simplicity,” and informal landscape highlighting natural and traditional foliage and materials.

Next, Markstein covered the responsibility of staff members at the Association’s building department. In addition to making sure that an applicant remained in “good standing” before filing plans to the CDRC, the board also requested that staff help navigate CDRC members on the interpretation and “fair and consistent” enforcement of the Protective Covenant, Code, and Guidelines. 

The letter also indicated a preliminary check request.

“Conduct a preliminary check of plans submitted for review to ascertain that those plans conform with the Covenant, Code and Guidelines,” Markstein read. “If plans are noncompliant, it is the role of the staff to communicate with the applicant and the architect and try to correct the matter before the plans are forwarded to the CDRC.”

While the board was aware that Covenant, Code and Guidelines would at times be subject to the CDRC’s discretion, the Feb. 7 letter raised another issue.

 “ … there are concerns within our community about the interpretation and enforcement of those guidelines and the overall deliberative process of the CDRC,” the board wrote. “Specifically, members of the board and our community have noted excessive grading projects with unrestrained mass and scale and buildings that are inconsistent with the Latin-style design. The CDRC should give great care when considering grading, mass, scale, and type of design.”

The board wanted the CDRC to take “great care” when considering grading, mass, scale, and design because these decisions would leave a “lasting mark” in the Covenant.

The board letter went on to cite how it didn’t want the CDRC to be influenced by the number of times an application was resubmitted.

The letter also addressed how the board did not want decisions to be, “ … influenced by a relationship a member of the CDRC may have with an applicant, architect, designer or other party involved or interested in the deliberative process. Such independence enables the CDRC to make decisions and issue requirements on a fair and consistent basis. A member of the CDRC, as does each board member, needs to be alert to even the appearance of a conflict of interest and should consider recusal in appropriate circumstances.”

Markstein then read a second letter asking the CDRC to refrain in approving any faux materials. He then reiterated that while the board appreciates the contributions of the CDRC, it was not the intent nor the responsibility of the board to regulate the CDRC, but rather to oversee that the rules and guidelines were applied.   

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