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A recent incident raised the question, and local officials delivered the answer: Members of the news media have no more rights than the general public when it comes to entering the gated community.

After reading in the Security logs that a River Valley Times reporter had been refused entry at the North Gate in January, Community Services District Director Bobbi Belton brought the issue up at the CSD Security Committee meeting Tuesday.

"We're talking about freedom of the press," Belton said. "I am a firm believer in free press and I will fight this one tooth and nail." 

"The bottom line is, does the press have free access through the gates of Rancho Murieta or do they not?" replied Security Chief Greg Remson. "It's press in general. It's people in general. They just don't have carte blanche in the community. ... One of the reasons people live here is so they won't have some stranger knocking on their door."

Remson said CSD gate officers carry out policy set by the Rancho Murieta Association. The policy requires visitors to be called in by residents.

Asked for the RMA's views on the matter, Assistant General Manager Danise Hetland said the RMA Compliance Committee reviewed the policy at its February meeting and confirmed that the media should be treated like other members of the public, unless the board of directors wanted to change the gate policy.    

According to past entries in the Security logs, newspaper and TV reporters have been turned away at the gates during fires and other news events.

But residents have also called in the media when they wanted coverage, and the Sheriff's Department has held press briefings inside the gates for major news events -- fewer than a handful of times in the last decade. 

Belton noted there are members of the media living here and said denying access to the non-resident River Valley Times reporter constituted "inequitable treatment."


At the time, the CSD was in emergency mode, working to restore water pressure and water service to a large part of Murieta North after a main broke earlier in the day.

Judith Unzner, managing editor of the River Valley Times, said the gate officer told reporter John Motsinger he was being refused because of safety concerns. She added she was giving the CSD the benefit of the doubt because "through the years we have never been denied access."

Beth Buderus's picture
Joined: 08/03/2007
Posts: 926
Post rating: 706

RVT Should be allowed in

I'm sorry but I disagree. The RVT should be allowed in. How else is the community suppose to know what's going on if the RVT cannot come in and report on it. Not everyone in the community has a computer, so RM.com or RMOnline cannot be the only source of information.

Marcia Oxford was always allowed in, no questions asked. I think an exception must be made for the new RVT reporter as he is providing a service/source of information to this community.

I hope the Board will discuss this further. If need be, several of us have talked about adding the reporter to our guest list.

Bobbi Belton's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 275
Post rating: 442

Media access

I continue to feel freedom of the press; i.e., media access--especially for a local reporter--is criticial.  I am not talking about major Sacramento media outlets, nor CNN, FOX, or the like. I request RMA to provide in writing the portion of their written policy which speciaifically excludes the press.

In addition, I would like to see--again, in writing--the "policy" that allows non-resident sports activity attendees access without being called in.

I am anxious to hear the RMA BOD discuss both their "gate policy" and the inequities it contains at their earliest convenience.

Bobbi Belton

George Roper's picture
Joined: 08/08/2007
Posts: 46
Post rating: 0

Change The Rules

Much as emergency responders are always allowed to pass through our gates, so to should be members of the Fourth Estate.  Restricting the dissemination of news by any means has the smell of tyranny about it.  The gate policy should be amended to include credentialed press representatives in the same category as emergency responders. This change will put our rules in conformance with the intent of the U.S. constitution. 

George Roper

Andy Keyes's picture
Joined: 08/22/2007
Posts: 289
Post rating: 120

This is a local gate issue

Without clouding the issue with pontifications on the 1st amendment superceding the gate policies of happy valley the issue is quite simple.  We live in a gated community that does not allow free access into that community.  If a resident desires  to invite the press to be present at any function normally open to the members of the community its as simple as calling the front gate and establishing them as a frequent visitor thus providing them access.  If the gate policy lets anyone in claiming to be a press member then you may as well take down the fences and the gates.

Ken Burns's picture
Joined: 08/02/2007
Posts: 12
Post rating: 7

TV crews in RM

I was up at 5:30 this morning & a TV crew from Cable channel 12 (CW31) was in south talking with a resident that has problems with Reynen & Bardis. The crew was in his garage. What gives? RMA & CSD is a perfect example of the left had not knowing what the right hand is doing. I'm really clear that RM wants to keep their problems inside the gates. How many of you would have known about the "drag racing" if I had not put it on the website?

How serious do the events have to get before we allow the outside to know......

Instead of sweeping it under the carpet let's get something done. Aren't we all "big pants" people here?

Bobbi Belton's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 275
Post rating: 442


It appears a resident phoned Sacramento media in to discuss the issues (I assume) given front page coverage in this morning's Bee. Therein lies the rub.

Any of us can call in a "visitor," regardless ot who s/he may represent.

Blue Oaks residents are understandably upset when their homes are deteriorating. With R&B reportedly no longer "fixing" the bad foundations, it is more than understandable that one or more residents have or will call in metro media.

And a huge thanks, Ken, for putting the "drag-racing" issue on the front burner!

Bobbi Belton

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