As another summer is about to begin in 4S Ranch and other communities in 92127, residents’ thoughts turn to long, lazy summer afternoons, outdoor activities, unique events and family fun.  Whether it’s in High Country West, 4S Ranch, Del Sur or other planned developments, the local homeowners’ associations play a major role in developing and managing much of the lifestyle amenities that local residents have come to love.  92127 Magazine takes a closer look at the 4S Ranch Master Association, providing new and long-time residents a peek into the history and workings of the organization.

Located in the scenic hills of North San Diego County, the 1700-acre community of 4S Ranch sits on the original 3,600 acres purchased in 1938 by the Ralphs family – and features homes with varied architecture, authentic details, engaging facades and front porches.  Quiet tree-lined neighborhoods with walk able promenades are clustered around 4S Commons, the town center.  One of California’s finest traditional communities, 4S Ranch has led the way in creating a new sense of luxury, forging a sea change in great residential design, and refining the ways in which houses of diverse architectural style go together.  The 4S Ranch community features single-family homes and multi-family developments created by more than a dozen different homebuilders offering an array of exterior styles, square footages, and floor plans, under the auspices of Master Developer Newland Communities in partnership with the Ralphs family.

According to Cynthia Van Cleave, CEO of the 4S Ranch Master Association, the local entity is dedicated to the development of the whole community as a vital contributor to the social and cultural fabric of the region, through community outreach, participation in local programs, and support of efforts by its residents to make 4S Ranch a great neighborhood.  Van Cleave – who has managed the Master Association for 10 years with The Prescott Companies management firm – provided answers to questions about the organization, with assistance from Rebecca Soto and Laura Hurst Brown.  A special thanks also goes to Ms. Linda Ralphs Kaeser – whose family was largely responsible for the 4S Ranch community as it exists today – for providing background and historical information and photographs for this article.


Q&A with the 4S Ranch Master Association

92127 Question: When and how did the 4S Ranch Master Association begin?
4S Ranch: In 1842 English sea captain Joseph Snook, as a naturalized Mexican citizen, married the daughter of the recipient of a land grant of 17,000 acres known as Rancho San Bernardo from the Mexican government.  A working cattle ranch for nearly a century, the property was divided, changing hands several times – retaining the name 4S Ranch.  In 1938 the land was purchased by Albert Ralphs, head of the Los Angeles-based grocery store chain. In the early 1980s, the Ralphs family decided to retain 1,200 acres as a family retreat and developed the southern portion of land into what is now the 4S Ranch Master Planned Community.
4S Commons Town Center was named after the English policy in the late middle ages of having a “commons” in the end or center of town where livestock could graze “in common.”
4S Ranch parks are named Heritage, Pioneer, Patriot, Freedom, and so on, as a tribute to the pioneer heritage of the area. The Ralphs family ancestors (four brothers) traveled across the continent in wagon trains (with one wife pregnant and carrying a 2-year-old) in the early 1850s.  They came for religious freedom, and the names bestowed on the common areas honors them.
“We watched Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos and Carmel Mountain Ranch being built,” said Linda Ralphs Kaeser, who has resided in Rancho Santa Fe for 20 years. “While they have many nice features, we thought we could do better. We began actively planning (the 4S Ranch community) in 1981; construction of the first phase began in 1987.”

92127 Question: What attracted the Ralphs family to the land?
4S Ranch: Rolling hills and deep valleys, sky-blue lakes that stretched through the winding terrain and rugged ridges, cool breezes, views to the horizon, the peace and quiet of the wide-open spaces, and the company of wildlife.

92127 Question: Can you name a few of the fondest memories of the Ralphs family on the land?
4S Ranch: Horseback riding through the hills, big family dinners, long hikes, dove hunting – perhaps best of all, there were no phones – we lived “off the grid” – and listening to the sound of breezes blowing through the mighty eucalyptus trees.

92127 Question: How was the decision made to develop the land?
4S Ranch: The Ralphs family partnered with 4S Kelwood in the early 1990s, making every decision together. “We had no partners in the first phase, which was primarily a business park,” said Ms. Ralphs Kaeser.  “And we have always felt a strong commitment to the land, bought by my grandfather in 1938.   We had a vision to build the best possible master planned community anywhere.  Period.”   And the Ralphs family did not sell that vision short; it is one now shared by the many families who have come to enjoy life here at 4S Ranch.
“We have done everything we possibly could to help that happen.  Staying a part of that process and protecting that vision has been the major focus of my life,” said Ms. Ralphs Kaeser.  “We are here for the long haul. I hope that all of our grandchildren will be proud of all that 4S Ranch has become.”   She added that as a working mother, she personally planned a community with busy parents in mind:  One-stop shopping – live, work, pray, and play – with families all together.  “You should see all of the little ones living here – enjoying life together with their families — fantastic! Our new schools and parks are fabulous!”
Today 4S Ranch is a thriving community located in the award-winning Poway Unified School District, and home to more than 3,500 families.  With only 130 homes – between 2,500 and 4,000 square feet – left to build, 4S Ranch boasts one of the richest and most diverse populations of the coastal regions.

92127 Question: Who were the key individuals and companies involved with the formation of the Association?
4S Ranch: 4S Kelwood LLC, in affiliation with Newland Communities, developed the land, which was incorporated as the 4S Ranch Master Association in 1999.  All board members are 4S Ranch homeowners.  Local residents Tom Hickerson and Joe Erpelding have served on the Board of Directors since inception.   Hickerson – who also serves on the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District Board – has been Board President for the last three years.  Erpelding is a principal in the Poway Unified School District.  John Pintacuda, a licensed real estate broker with 23 years of experience in property management, has served on the board since 2007.  David Maley, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business management and joined the board in 2009.  Linda Ralphs Kaeser, granddaughter of Albert Ralphs, has sat on the board from the beginning – first as a developer representative, and later as a director elected by homeowners.

92127 Question: What is the structure of the Association?
4S Ranch: 4S Ranch Master Association is comprised of 32 delegate districts – each maintaining voting power based on the number of units sold – which elect a portion of the Board each year on a rotating annual calendar of two or three seats respectively.

92127 Question: What are the specific roles for the Association Board of Directors and the Prescott Companies Management Team?
4S Ranch: The roles are divided into three areas:

  • Board of Directors:  Directors are elected to perform all of the duties and powers vested in or delegated to the Master Association per the governing documents, including but not limited to the adoption and publishing of rules and regulations pertaining to the use of Association Property and the personal conduct of the Owners and their guests.
  • Prescott Companies Management Team: A driving force in the management of the Master Association, the Prescott Companies ensures effective governance and member support, with full-service solutions pertaining to the day-to-day life of the Association. Acting as advisor to the Board when Management’s expertise can add value to the decision-making processes, the Prescott team carries out the will of the Board in working with members on all issues.
  • 4S Ranch Activities and Communications Team: As part of the management team of the Master Association, the Prescott Companies Activities and Communications Director and staff promote, protect and preserve the organization with a full menu of public events. Summer programs and activities designed especially for members bring families together from all walks of life and create a sense of unity within the community. Lush green common areas — seen in the luminous glow of moonlight (at Summer Movies in the Park, Fourth of July fireworks), the shimmer of sunrise (Spring Egg Hunt and early-riser Pancake Breakfast) or the rich tone of sunset (Fall Concert in the Park) – promise an array of wonders through the year.

92127 Question: When and where are the Association Board meetings and can any resident attend?
4S Ranch: Every third Tuesday at 5:30 pm, at the 4S Ranch Branch of the San Diego County Library; 4S Ranch Association members only may attend.  Occasionally meeting dates change due to conflicts, and members are encouraged to verify the meeting date and location via

92127 Question: When and how often are Association Board elections held?
4S Ranch: The Annual Meeting and Election of Directors is held annually in November in the community room at the 4S Ranch Branch of the San Diego County Library.

92127 Question: How can a 4S Ranch resident become involved with the association, either as a board member or a community volunteer assisting with events and activities?
4S Ranch: Members may participate in their community government primarily in the roles of Delegate or Board member, or may volunteer to serve on a committee of their choosing, or help at an Association-sponsored event or activity. For more information, members in good standing may email

92127 Question: What are the primary responsibilities and priorities of the association?
4S Ranch: The Association is principally engaged in providing for the management, administration, maintenance, preservation and architectural control of the community, in addition to promoting the health, safety, and welfare of its members.
A dynamic and richly diverse community still in development, 4S Ranch relies on the Master Association to provide the kind of leadership and oversight to its membership that both preserves its traditional nature and promotes future-friendly decisions, while protecting the value of its natural resources and architectural integrity.

92127 Question: What makes the 4S Ranch Master Association different or unique, when compared to other planned community homeowners’ organizations?
4S Ranch: 4S Ranch encapsulates a rich diversity of architectural and natural elements: with more than 10 miles of walking trails and 1,600 acres of dedicated open space, a community garden, town green, splash park, baseball field and many public spaces – including a 22-acre community park with picnic areas, and proximity to 4S Commons, which includes a retail center and library.

92127 Question: What does the association hope to accomplish with its summer events for local residents?
4S Ranch: The Master Association is dedicated to community outreach with a full program of events for its members and their guests – plus a menu of activities designed to promote interaction with the public, such as Summer Movies in the Park and the fall Concert in the Park.  In addition, the Association works closely with 4S Ranch Little League and Girls Softball League to promote sports events at the baseball field.

92127 Question: What are some of the summer events and activities planned for this year?
4S Ranch: 2011 will feature many fun and fabulous activities for members and their guests, that are also open to the public. In Summer 2011, 4S Ranch residents will enjoy Movies in the Park, a series of blockbuster hits viewed in the open arena of 4S Ranch Community Park – under the stars, complete with popcorn and moonlight. The Association also co-sponsors the 4th of July Fireworks after dark at Del Norte High School, with free field seating and refreshments available for purchase.  In Fall 2011, the Concert in the Park highlights a rock  theme, and members and their guests may dress down in jeans and tee shirts for this one.  Local businesses interested in booth opportunities, event sponsorships and online advertising may contact Jennifer Harper, Activities Director, at 858-213-3560 or  Visit for all of the latest news and updates on scheduled events.

92127 Question: How does the Master Association work to keep the children in the community as safe as possible while out of school during the summer months?
4S Ranch: The Master Association helps to promote the summer programs of the County Parks and Recreation Department, the Poway Unified School District, and other agencies through  Gifts of the Ralphs family and the developer, such as the 4S Ranch Boys and Girls Club and 4S Ranch Community Pool, offer outstanding amenities that are open all summer to the public and offer a full roster of safe summertime activities.  This open center is part of the vision of the Ralphs family to enhance the network of ball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts and soccer fields in the area, and offer programs that are shared and enjoyed by all.