Leaders approve showcase for trees

RANCHO SANTA FE — The Forest Health Task Force has been working diligently to find alternative trees for residents to plant to replace the many eucalyptus trees damaged and diseased by the red gum lerp psyllid.
In this effort, the committee recommended that an arboretum be established that would showcase trees that are desirable alternatives. The committee felt the site needed to be convenient to community members, be large enough to accommodate at least 60 trees, and have a nearby water supply to provide irrigation for trees for the first 18 to 24 months after they are planted. On Oct. 1, the Association board of directors agreed with the Task Force’s recommendation and took action to provide such an arboretum.
The new arboretum will be located near the intersection of San Elijo and Via de Fortuna, adjacent to the 14th hole of the golf course. Staff reviewed several locations and recommended this site, although other sites are also being considered.
“Perhaps we can also plant some of these specimen trees in the new Village Parks we’re proposing,” Director Jack Queen said. Other directors agreed and President Bill Beckman also proposed that land be used at the Osuna Ranch, which could showcase trees and be a viable nursery where people could purchase trees. Director Kim Higgins, who serves as the liaison between the board and the Osuna Committee, will make these suggestions at the next Osuna meeting, scheduled for later this month.
The board approved funding up to a maximum of $10,000 to purchase and install trees recommended by the Forest Health Task Force. Plants will be sufficiently watered and labeled for residents to easily identify the trees and their requirements.
In other Association news, the board approved Chief Financial Officer Steve Comstock’s recommendation to keep the assessment rate for the fiscal year 2009-2010 to $.14 per $100 of property valuation. Despite the rollback in home prices, the San Diego County Assessor’s roll valued the Covenant properties at $4,165 billion, which represented a 1.81 percent increase over last year’s assessment value of $4,091 billion.
The board also approved a motion to send a letter to the county of San Diego requesting an update regarding the status of road repaving in the area in light of the current economy and recent state budget shortfalls. In April, county staff attended the Association’s Road and Traffic Committee meeting and explained the system the county uses to evaluate its roads and prioritize them for a repaving and maintenance schedule. Shortly after this, however, the state budget reduced funding and the Association would like to know where it now stands.
A second letter is also being sent asking the state to “get tough” with contractors who do sloppy work repairing roads after new lines are installed underground or other such repair work on county roads. “The repair work needs to get done properly,” Director Dick Doughty said. “This is the genesis of where the repairs fall by the wayside.”
The board also approved a boundary adjustment between the Zagara property and the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, known as the Ewing Preserve. The Art Jury reviewed the proposed boundary adjustment on Aug. 21 and recommended the approval. Staff concurred and the board approved the adjustment at its Oct. 1 meeting.
The next Association meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 15.

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