Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Rancho Santa Fe Then & Now: Revisiting 1980s series on San Diego neighborhoods

We look into the history of RSF and how it is today. We’re revisiting The Village – the area’s main business district – which includes the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.

RANCHO SANTA FE, California – Rancho Santa Fe is one of the most affluent areas in San Diego County. It was home to the rich and famous including Bing Crosby, Janet Jackson, Bill Gates and Phil Mickelson.

The white picket fences that lined the streets three decades ago are still an integral part of the charm that welcomes you to Rancho Santa Fe today.

“When you drive down the winding roads to Rancho Santa Fe, it’s like relaxation. It’s like you really don’t know where you are anymore. You don’t realize you’re in Southern California, San Diego, ”said Kathy Reese, director of sales and marketing at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.

Instead of limousines, luxury SUVs and Teslas are a common sight these days.

Memories live on in historic buildings at The Village, the heart of Rancho Santa Fe. Gayle Gillies Travel, which we saw in a News 8 story in the business district three decades ago, is long gone, but Gayle’s daughter-in-law still works in the exact same office space.

“I’m in the real estate business and we worked around the corner and when I found out we were moving into my mother-in-law’s office it was amazing,” said Gillian Gillies, adding, “You can still” feel hers Spirit or their energy in here, which is a beautiful thing. “

Much has proven itself in this exclusive community, which is often simply referred to as “The Ranch”.

Nestled in lush rolling hills, the landscape and lifestyle haven’t changed too much since we unveiled this slice of San Diego’s North County in 1987. Back then, the residents described Rancho Santa Fe as “heaven on earth”. People feel the same way today.

“We’re the little gem, away from the hustle and bustle of San Diego,” said Reese.

Rancho Santa Fe was declared a State Historic Landmark in 1989. The parish was once called Rancho San Dieguito, a Mexican land grant in 1841. In 1906 the Santa Fe Railway bought the land grant and in the early 1920s a planned parish with a commercial downtown district called The Village was developed.

The Spanish colonial buildings at The Village and Inn at Rancho Santa Fe were designed by Lilian Rice, one of California’s first architects, in 1923. A bronze statue of Rice was unveiled at The Village Green just this month.

“Almost 100 years later, it is still thriving; the hotel is thriving, The Village is thriving, ”said Reese, who described the experience at the historic hotel as a timeless retreat.

“We are the heart of the church. Everyone knows each other. The Inn is, so to speak, the central meeting point for all local family friends, ”explains Reese.

Only 2,500 people live in Rancho Santa Fe. In fact, there are fewer than 900 households in the unincorporated San Diego County area. The sprawling private estate has always made it a desirable and expensive place to call home.

In 1987, our News 8 report said a recent study ranked Rancho Santa Fe the 8th richest suburb in the country, with an average retail price of $ 2,000,000.

It has decreased a little since those days; 92067 is now the 13th most expensive zip code, according to Forbes, with an average retail price of more than $ 4,000,000.

The most expensive property currently for sale in Rancho Santa Fe is a 77-acre property with a horse ranch that was listed for $ 98.5 million in October 2021.

“The Rancho market is as crazy as it is everywhere right now. Inventory is an all time low, ”said Gillies. “Wealthy buyers pay the highest price for luxurious living and value quality of life.”

“You now have more options. You can work from home … families all gather in the same house but don’t want to be on top of each other. And the square footage of the houses in Rancho Santa Fe does that well, ”said Gillies.

In our 1987 story, a resident said that many people consider Rancho Santa Fe to be an elite bunch. For decades, the people who live there have worked to break that stigma.

“To be honest, the people at Rancho Santa Fe are very down to earth. I think you will find them really interesting because they come from all walks of life. And they did well, ”said Gillies.

With this success comes a spirit of giving among the people in the community. Gillies’ mother-in-law, Gayle, who owned Gayle Gillies Travel, founded the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund in 2004 to give back.

“The Women’s Fund was created to bring members together in meaningful and engaging ways and to give back to the wider San Diego community,” said Gayle, as quoted on the charity’s website. Although she passed away in 2019, she left an enduring legacy.

The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund is one of several nonprofit organizations that work with the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation to meet the needs of people across San Diego County.

“We spent over $ 10 million in the past year, much of it on helping COVID relief, helping young military families, and many other causes,” said Chris Sichel, President and CEO of the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation. which has given the community more than $ 100 million.

RSFF celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

“I think we all want to make a difference. We want to improve the lives of others. And I think who is given much as expected, and this community really, really accepts that, and the generosity here is unparalleled,” said Sichel.

Most of us will never be able to live at The Ranch, but you can dine at a restaurant in The Village, enjoy a stay at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, or indulge yourself at the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa, which was easy with Travel + Leisure Magazine voted fourth largest resort in the country.

Rooms this time of year start at around $ 1,000 a night, and prices get much more expensive during the vacation and summer months when demand is higher.

You can also enjoy a historical walking tour of Rancho Santa Fe and learn more about its roots and the architectural design of the building by visiting the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society.


Celebrate San Diego was a 1986/1987 series about neighborhoods in San Diego County. CBS 8 anchor reporter Connie Healy and a team of photographers roamed the county, providing detailed profiles of several cities and towns in the area. They were history lessons focused on change and progress.

Many of the longtime residents she spoke to thought about what it was like to grow up in their city and what they thought of all the changes they had seen. You really get a feel for what the character and personality of the community were in each profile – and how diverse the county really is.

Thirty-five years later, we’re sending out a team of reporters to see how things have changed or stayed the same in each of the nearly 20 neighborhoods we studied in the mid-1980s.

Connie shares her memories of working on this fantastic series below:

“I love talking to people. People make the news, not news anchors. They simply tell how we live our lives. In the 1980s, Celebrate San Diego did just that. It painted a picture of everyday life very different from what we live today, and a city many of us would not even recognize.

Talking to people, listening to their stories is what reporters do every day. But these stories about life in San Diego 50 to 100 years ago were amazing. This city has come a long way in the past 30 years, but some of the people in these stories saw change at the speed of light. I encourage you to take some time to peek into our past, indulge in the present, and celebrate the wonderful city we all call home. “


RELATED: News 8 Relapse: San Diego Homes 1979 | Million dollar mansions



Comments are closed.