Art Jury makes effort to be more user-friendly

RANCHO SANTA FE — Sometimes the Rancho Santa Fe Art Jury gets a bad rap. It shouldn’t, say Association board members. It exists to help, not hinder.Still, going before the jury can seem daunting to some because before any building is built, any addition is added or any remodel begins, plans must first go before the Art Jury for approval.

The plan can be rejected out-of-hand. The Art Jury can call for major changes in the plan.

Even the prospect of going before the jury with a plan can be scary to a homeowner.

In an effort to make it more user-friendly, the Art Jury adopted new hearing guidelines at a recent retreat with the help of a trainer from the National Conflict Resolution Center.

The Association asked that a representative of the Art Jury give an overview of the new guidelines it recently adopted, which appear less formal with more effort to put people at ease.

The Art Jury, which has been around since 1927, is tasked with making sure a project conforms to community and covenant guidelines assuring the flavor and ambiance of the community stays the same. Its first president was Lilian Rice, the community’s first architect.

Still, the image is that the Art Jury is “Draconian” and that “you can’t build anything here,” said Director Eamon Callahan during a presentation by the Art Jury at the Association’s March 1 meeting.

Callahan said he has had personal dealings with the Art Jury about six times and has never had a problem.

“Many people say afterward their project ended up better,” Director Anne Feighner said.

The Association tries to dispel the image by keeping realtors in the loop. “I meet and have coffee (during regular meetings) with realtors to keep the channels open and to keep them up to speed on any new developments,” said Robert Greene, associate planner.

“It really does pay to involve realtors,” Feighner said. “Our goal is not to discourage them, but to encourage them.”
Director Dick Doughty said he believes care should be taken not to soften the jury’s image.

“I don’t want to water down the impression,” he said. “The Art Jury is really a special thing. I think the Art Jury name should be preserved. I simply would not use the term ‘committee’ to describe the Art Jury.”
Doughty said keeping the 75-year tradition is important. “We are not making this up. It is required because it is so written here,” he said.

The Art Jury is made up of local residents, most who have served on other boards and committees.
When a person goes before the Art Jury regarding their project they will be asked the goal of the project and the concept behind its design. Art Jury members will tour the site, and consult with architects and staff who have expertise and experience within the Covenant. It will ask for the timeline going forward and make suggestions about how to solve problems.

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