A misunderstanding about non-residents who violate traffic rules was discussed by the Rancho Murieta Community Services District Security Committee Monday along with the emerging results of a security survey.
The problem arose from recent security log entries with the notation "unable to cite" for non-residents who were speeding or running stop signs -- or both. It seemed non-residents were getting a free ride, said CSD Director Bobbi Belton, a member of the committee.
That's not the case, Security Chief Greg Remson said. "Your guests come in and they're responsible to someone. That just wasn't written properly," he said.
Remson said visitors are responsible to a resident, the Rancho Murieta Association, the Country Club, the Villas, the utility company or whatever company they work for -- "it doesn't matter."
If UPS comes in to make a delivery, "they go to 500 people a day. ... They're responsible to UPS. All we do is get on the phone and say, 'Hey, listen ... we have complaints about your driver speeding,' and we never hear about it again," Remson said. "We got a complaint about a plumbing contractor. Called them up. Those people said, 'That's it, don't worry about it, you won't have any problem with that issue at all.' So we get really good response from that."
In December, residents received 35 speeding citations, and there were 29 complaints and admonishments for speeding violations. "We've got a new officer that's pretty aggressive on speeding," Remson said.
"I think that's great," Director Wayne Kuntz said of stepped-up enforcement for speeding and stop sign violations.
Remson said Security is hearing two different views. "You've got some people who say (speeding) is the worst thing that's happening in Rancho Murieta. Then you've got other people that say ‘Why are you wasting your time with speeding? It's not an issue.'"
Traffic enforcement is one of the hot-button questions in the security survey, Belton said when she provided an update on the survey.
She said between 550 and 575 security surveys were returned. The results are compiled by about a dozen volunteers, and will be made available to the community.
Belton said respondents favor having RMA tickets instead of "real tickets" for traffic violations.
Remson asked what kind of response a question about peace officer status for Security officers was generating. "Some people would put yes on that (question) and no on tickets," he said.
"They don't realize that one goes hand-in-hand with the other," said Director Wayne Kuntz.
Belton said respondents seemed interested in the question about adding a patrol officer and wanted to know what the cost would be. "It looks like one additional patrol officer would be about $1.66 per month per resident," she said. Residents behind the gates currently pay $21 a month for security services as part of their CSD bill.
Belton estimated 20 percent of the respondents checked the box at the top of the survey saying "things are just fine the way they are."
Some checked the box but went on to take the survey, said Betty Ferraro, one of three residents who wrote the survey.
Ferraro estimated three-quarters of the surveys had written comments. "Which is wonderful because that proved that at least they were reading something and what an education I was trying to give them, they felt they were being empowered," Ferraro said. "Some of the things they wrote might not necessarily have anything to do with security, but they were venting, and that is good."
Ferraro said she wanted to thank people for taking the survey and let them know "we will use the information and we will be getting back to them by the end of the month... We empowered them. They are waiting to hear they were empowered."
Security and the big storm
The gates "got inundated with phone calls," during the winter storm Friday, Remson said. North Gate personnel were inundated, period.
Security, the CSD Water Department and the Rancho Murieta Association "answered numerous calls of trees down, street flooding, drains clogged," he said.
Security officers also assisted residents who couldn't open their garage doors after power failed.
The good news was, "We didn't have any injuries," Remson said.
He singled out North Gate Security staff for special praise, saying gate officers "just got soaked" as they worked to process visitors at the busy gate during the storm. "They didn't sign up to work outside, but basically that's what they were doing."
The problem was the decrepit building that houses the Security operation. "Those windows are so old, the window tracks fill up with water and then you open the window and the wind would splash that water all over you. It was a mess. They did a good job," Remson said.
The North Gate is owned by the RMA and operated by CSD Security personnel. For years, both the RMA and the CSD have recognized the need to build a new gate. In 2004, $1.4 million in funds became available to replace the gate under the terms of the Mutual Benefit Agreement, a development agreement signed by the RMA and the Pension Trust Fund for Operating Engineers. In 2006, the RMA identified replacement of the gate as a goal for 2008.
The project wasn't included at the RMA board's 2008 goal-setting workshop last year.
Remson reported on the following at the meeting:
• The new year: New Year's Eve was "pretty quiet," but there were vandalism calls. "The biggest was at Stonehouse Park. They broke a couple of the glass tiles that are on the side of the (restroom) building, and some roof tiles."
A resident on Trinidad Drive reported hearing gunshots about 12:30 a.m., and there were reports of damage to holiday yard lights.
• Decoration vandalism: Was there more vandalism to holiday decorations than in previous ones? "It's hard to say," said Remson. "Did we have more Christmas lights? Do we have more kids?... One night they got five or six houses."
• Marijuana possession: Two incidents of marijuana possession were included in the incidents of note for December.
In the Dec. 8 incident, adult resident children had marijuana pipes and a small amount of marijuana. The marijuana was destroyed and the parents were notified. "Do they have a little more legal obligation being legal adults on their own?" Director Bobbi Belton asked Remson. "It's sort of like we're taking them home to mommy or daddy like a 14- or 15-year-old."
"They're still basically dependents in the RMA system," Remson replied. "They're not property owners, they live with their parents. ... We'll still notify the parents ..."
On Dec. 19, the Sheriff's Department was brought in and admonished three adults and one juvenile in the area of Lake Clementia after Security found they had marijuana.
• Vehicle break-ins: Unlocked vehicles were burglarized on Dec. 21 and Jan. 2. Nothing was removed from two vehicles that were gone through Dec. 21. A laptop computer and two headsets were taken from a vehicle parked in the garage of a home on Colbert Drive Jan. 2. Entry was made through an unlocked side door of the garage. "They actually went in a side gate, which was unlocked, and then through a side garage door, which was unlocked, and then into the garage, and then into the cars." Remson added that a deputy took a report of the theft.
• Juvenile threat: On Jan. 2, one juvenile threatened another with a pocket knife. The incident was handled by the Sheriff's Department. "These are pretty young kids. They're like 11 years old," Remson said.
• Tire slashing: A tire-slashing incident at a home on Calloway Drive last month was not a random act, Remson said. "We feel it's a known suspect. We feel it's a retaliation issue."
• Gate officers: A new gate officer has been hired to fill a vacancy and a patrol officer who was injured while on duty remains under a doctor's care. Off-duty sheriff's deputies have been hired to supplement CSD patrol until the officer returns.
Remson said the patrol officer was injured driving on Highway 16 between the North and South gates. A car without lights began to drift toward the patrol vehicle. "That's your classic drunk driver, which will hone in on lights," he told the committee. When the officer pulled off the road to avoid a collision, the patrol car bounced around on the shoulder to cause the injury.
• Street parking: "It's an age-old problem and it will never end," Remson said after a committee member commented on the 47 citations issued in December for overnight street parking. "What happens is, people either get a new car or an additional car, or they have a friend or relative that moves in, and they don't register the car. And they don't register the car because they know they don't have to worry about driveway parking, shuffling cars or any of that," he explained. "So when we see the same car parked in the street for weeks and weeks and weeks at a time, well, then we'll write the citation and they can explain to RMA ..."
• General problems: During the month of December, Security received complaints about loud music, holiday decoration damage and removal, and a couple of portable toilets were knocked over "prior to the wind," Remson noted.