Association considers open space purchase

RANCHO SANTA FE — The Rancho Santa Fe Association decided at its May 19 meeting to move forward in pursuing the purchase of 47.7 acres on the southeastern corner of Rambla de las Flores and El Acebo by having it appraised. If the process continues to fruition, the acreage would be purchased by the Association as open space.
“This is the first step in the process,” said Tom Lang, Association president.
He said after the appraisal, which will take until about mid June, there will be an open meeting where members can give input on the proposed purchase and possibly a community-wide vote.
“I would love to send it out to a vote of the members,” said Deb Plummer, director. “I don’t want to encumber the rest of the members or future boards since we don’t have the money in the coffers to pay for it.”
The Association formally adopted an Open Space program in 1996 to acquire land to be held as open space to help protect the rural character of Rancho Santa Fe. Since the program was established, the Association has purchased six parcels totaling more than 100 acres at a total cost of $14,935,000. The last parcel purchased was the Osuna Ranch in 2006.
A recent survey of members of the Covenant determined it was highly important to them to retain the rural nature of the area and so was purchasing open space.
“We had held off on this until the surveys were returned,” Lang said.
Paul Slater, who represents the owners of the property and gave a presentation during the meeting, said now is the time to act.
“There are few opportunities where tracts of land this large and this unique come available,” Slater said. “You’ve probably passed by it a thousand times and never noticed it.”
Slater said the owners of the property are staunch conservationalists and would probably be willing to deal.
“This is the ideal time to acquire such a large piece of land for a low cost,” he said.
The property has already been subdivided into four parcels including 24.47 acres already dedicated as open space by the county of San Diego.
Slater said a $450,000 endowment was established for the care and maintenance of that property as a biological preserve.
“It just needs to remain open space,” Slater said.
Association Director Anne Feighner said the acquisition of the land is “significant.”
“I think it is well worth pursuing,” she said.
Director Jack Queen said he is certain 50 years from now the members will thank this “forward thinking board took action to save this property.”