Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Golf course tree replanting plan moves forward

The Rancho Santa Fe Association Board of Directors approved the next phase of a plan to replant trees along the newly renovated Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club course. At the October 7th meeting, the board approved the establishment of a tree replacement planning group to develop a comprehensive plan that would provide oversight to both the association and the golf club and community input.

“The goals are to provide a superior golfing experience and improve the course, add shade and aesthetics to the surrounding pathways, beautify the landscape for neighboring property owners, and replace trees as they go back,” said Arnold Keene, deputy director of the RSF Association board meeting October 7th.

The vote was 5-2, with President Bill Weber and Directors Laurel Lemarie, Lorraine Kent, Bill Strong and Rick Sapp in favor and Directors Greg Gruzdowich and Dan Comstock against.

The replanting project got under way over the summer when local residents were alerted about how many trees were lost in the renovation of the square.

The golf club’s master plan included the removal of six trees (and the replanting of 16), but community members and members of the Forest Health Preservation Committee estimated that up to 27 trees would be removed. The golf club has stated that the trees removed were dead or are dying off and were a safety hazard for both golfers and trail users.

In response to the concerns of the community, the association imposed a moratorium on further tree felling in July, unless this is verified by association employees and an independent arborist. The following month the board drew up a protocol for evaluating golf course trees, a collaboration between the club and the association.

The next phase is the replanting plan. The tree replacement planning group would include representatives from the RSF Association and the golf club, as well as landscape and golf course design professionals. The group will recommend tree species and locations, and develop a plan for replanting that includes potential costs and a schedule. Community workshops are held to gather input for the landscape plan.

Once the plan is developed, it will be subject to an art jury review, cost analysis, and other public workshops.

The cost of this phase has not yet been determined, Keene said, but it will be shared between the RSF Association and the golf club.

RSF golf club interim manager Shanon McCarthy, while not against the plan, called for more time for the golf club’s board and staff to review and contribute to the board-approved document.

Director Gruzdowich requested that the permit be postponed until the golf course renovation is complete and the game resumes when they can better assess the finished course: “It’s a good idea but I think it’s too early,” said he.

Director Sapp noted that what the board has approved is just the framework for the replanting plan to move forward. He said he wanted some momentum in the project instead of putting it on the table until construction was complete.

The request for postponement failed 4-3 to Gruzdowich, Comstock and Strong.

According to McCarthy, the golf club’s goal is to open the new Front Nine on October 19, with all 18 holes open through December, pending delays due to weather or grass growth.

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