On November 4, the Rancho Santa Fe Association Board of Directors lifted its ban on wood-grain wood board siding or fiber cement products (commonly known as "Hardie Board"). In addition, the board of directors approved a new loose exterior material regulation that removes all percentage restrictions on wood use in new Covenant houses and reconstruction.
After 30 days of public comment, the board of directors can pass the new rules at its December meeting.
In September, Director Greg Gruzdowich formally proposed to re-examine the board's position on man-made wood and the percentage limit in the chapter of community supervision regulations. Gruzdovic’s proposal was supported by a letter from Fred Cox, Chief of the Rancho Santa Fe Fire District, supporting the use of fiber cement construction materials as a substitute for wood because of its fire resistance.
The vote for repealing and issuing the new regulations was 5-2. President Bill Weber and director Rick Tharp opposed. Sapp has stated that it would be unwise to revoke the resolution before they pass the new regulatory chapter because it creates a gap for projects that continue to pass the Art Jury review process.
Director Laurel Lemari once again expressed strong support for the revocation of the resolution because she believed it was a “resolution disguised as a law” and was not completed correctly in 2019. Sapp is the only person on the 2019 board of directors, clarifying that this is a valid resolution and has undergone legal review.
In the past, committees have been concerned about allowing the use of non-preferred materials, such as wood or Hardie boards, because these materials may become the main building types in the community, but they did not interpret this as the intent of the convention.
According to paragraph 159 of the Protection Convention, the preferred materials for pastures are gypsum, adobe or plaster, concrete, stone or approved artificial stone. Wood is not listed as the preferred material, but it is not banned. According to paragraph 155, “materials, colors, and forms must be used honestly and actually express their essence, rather than imitating other materials.”
In the new exterior materials regulations, all percentage restrictions on the use of wood have been removed at the request of Gruzdowich.
The external materials regulations first approved by the board of directors in 2020 stipulate that up to 25% of the wood used in new buildings and renovations is allowed. The March 2021 revision removed restrictions on renovations and expanded the allowable number of new buildings to 33%.
In the latest revision of the regulation, the art jury proposed language to restrict the use of wood and fiber cement products, including restricting the style of cladding to board and slat types, and restricting the use of materials to the building types of California ranch. In a project built in the style of a California ranch, the art jury proposed to limit the use of materials to 50% unless used in barns or horse breeding facilities.
The chairman of the art jury, Bill Danola, stated that the language they proposed was clear and concise and supported the explanation that wood is not the preferred material for the ranch.
Most members of the board of directors did not agree to include the language of the art jury. Sapp is in favor of approving releases in two languages because it is a complex issue and it will give the community some understanding of how the art jury will decide on the design of the project.
Gruzdowich and Lemarié stated that they did not support any percentage restrictions in the revised regulations.
"We should recommend using Hardie board on wood," Gruzdovich said on behalf of the community's safety, using more durable, flame-retardant masonry. "This is something we should recommend, not a restriction."
The regulation has now been issued for public input. Covenant members can submit comments to email@example.com.
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