Rancho Santa Fe Protective Covenant
Enforcing the Covenant
Annexation and Covenant Acceptance
The Rancho Santa Fe Protective Covenant was assembled, approved
and recorded on much of the community's land area by the Santa Fe
Land Improvement Company and a number of area property owners in
1928. Alternatively, the term "Covenant" is also often
used to describe the properties to which the Protective Covenant
applies. Its preamble states the objective of the Covenant founders
as, "preserving, continuing and maintaining [the] character
of the community and rare landscape features and upholding the quality
of all future architecture and improvements and of restricting the
use, height and bulk of buildings."
Covenant is a contract between the property owner and the Rancho
Santa Fe Association. When purchasing Covenant property, the new owner
enters into an agreement which entitles the owner to the services of
the Association and also obligates the owner to comply with the requirements
of the Protective Covenant and the other governing documents. Adherence
to the Protective Covenant is considered by the community as the primary
reason for the attractiveness of Rancho Santa Fe as it exists today.
In fact, the consistent application of the Protective Covenant over
its lengthy life has proven to be a key to the historical legal success
of the Association in defending its authorities.
Although it is formally arranged in Articles and Sections, a shorthand
of paragraph numbering has been overlain on the Protective Covenant
and is commonly used for reference. Among these numbered paragraphs
are three basic forms of regulation:
- Operating paragraphs, which establish general procedures, responsibilities,
enforcement and the assessment of operating funds;
- Zoning paragraphs, which place all of the properties in the
Covenant into use class districts, or zones. As with common municipal
zoning, these class districts prescribe allowable uses and development
- Design Review paragraphs, which establish the Rancho Santa
Fe Association Covenant Design Review and provide it with the encompassing authority
to approve the appearance of new construction and landform alteration
in conformance with the objectives of maintaining high architectural
standards and preserving the rural character of the community.
The Protective Covenant establishes the various use class
districts, and divides the community into those parcels which may be
used for residential purposes from those which can be used for more
intense functions such as commercial buildings, multi-family housing
and commercial horsekeeping. In all, eleven different classifications
are defined. The large majority of the community is, however, devoted
to "Class A", or single family development.
The Protective Covenant also provides for the means to
reclassify property. This process (Covenant Modification) requires
the consent of nearby property owners as well as approval by the
Board of Directors.
Perhaps the most often quoted paragraph of the Protective
Covenant is Paragraph 46, which states simply that the Covenant Design Review
may make such determinations as it deems necessary to "insure
a uniform and reasonably high standard of artistic result and attractiveness
in the exterior and physical appearance of said property and improvements."
By this and other established authorities, the Covenant Design Review reviews
and passes judgment on the aesthetics of new buildings, accessory
structures, additions, landscape and grading. Their review also
extends to such matters as changes in the exterior color or trim
of existing buildings, changes in roofing material, as well as the
installation and maintenance of fencing, decks, landscaping, corrals,
pools, tennis courts, satellite antennas, storage tanks, walls,
lighting and works of art. The Covenant Design Review also issues permits for
Paragraphs 172 through 181 contain, in large measure, the authority
of the Association to enforce the Protective Covenant. These paragraphs
authorize the Association, after proper noticing, to make special
assessments and place a lien on property that is found to be in
violation of Protective Covenant or other regulatory requirements.
Other enforcement remedies include suspension of privileges and
injunctive relief, for which attorney's fees may be recovered by
Annexation and Covenant Acceptance
Subsequent to the initial adoption and recordation of the
Protective Covenant "Old Book" in 1928, additional lands
have been added to the Covenant community. These parcel-by-parcel
"annexations" of "non-Covenant islands" have
occurred through the present. Upon annexation to the Covenant community,
a Covenant Acceptance Agreement is recorded, which binds the property
as if it were a part of the original properties governed by the
Protective Covenant. This acceptance agreement may specify additional
terms and conditions which are applicable to the specific property.
Most often, such conditions limit the number of building sites into
which the accepted property could, at maximum, be subdivided. Annexations
must be approved by both the Covenant Design Review and the Board of Directors.