[Story published March 20] Residents applauded the Rancho Murieta Community Services District board’s decision Wednesday night to resume spraying for the midge fly at Laguna Joaquin. Security Chief Greg Remson presented an annual report on security operations at the session, and the board approved policy and procedural changes.
The board approved spending $13,200 for four spray applications to deal with the midge fly after audience members said the insect became “a huge problem” in the area when the CSD stopped spraying last year to cut costs. The board will include the expenditure in the 2009-2010 budget.
Murieta Townhouse Inc. board members Bobbie Fite and Carol Prinzo and MTI President Doug Knutsen were among more than half a dozen people who spoke about the problem with the flies, a tiny, non-biting bug that accumulates in swarms and is drawn to light. The presence of the flies promotes the growth of spiders and their webs.
Residents spoke of swarms of midge flies at their doors, problems with flies inside, and having to clean the exteriors of their homes multiple times each summer.
The CSD had sent a letter to MTI and the Rancho Murieta Association requesting assistance with the costs of the spraying. The RMA board rejected the request outright at its meeting Tuesday. At the CSD meeting, Knutsen said the townhouse association has a “very stressed budget,” and Fite suggested independent efforts to raise funds to help CSD offset the cost of spraying.
Fite told the CSD board, “I know that not everyone is affected by the midge flies, but a large number of people are, because we not only have the people who live around Laguna Joaquin, but we also have the people who walk around Laguna Joaquin, who bring their children to the playground there, who use the gazebo there, and we have the huge Fourth of July celebration there.”
Several speakers talked about water quality and debris issues at the lake. CSD staff explained the lake is a drainage basin and also stores river water for RMA landscape irrigation.
Laguna Joaquin neighbor Doug Lewis said RMA and CSD are responsible for the lake and for the water pollution that’s producing the midge flies. “It’s up to you guys to correct … The maintenance of the water is your responsibility,” he said as the audience applauded. Neighbor Frank Falusi called the lake “a filthy mess,” adding that cleaning it might be the solution to the midge fly problem.
Despite the critical comments, the tone of the discussion between the board and the residents was cordial. Director Bob Kjome, who has lived on the lake, described the midge flies as “a royal pain in the derriere.” He was applauded when he said he supported treating the water to control midge fly larvae.
The board unanimously approved Kjome’s motion for the CSD to treat the water and try to get other entities to help with the costs.
“I just really want to thank you,” said neighbor Jannelle Dale. “It’s a pleasure to face a really friendly board.”
Security Chief Greg Remson reported on his department's operations in 2008.
Security year in review
Security Chief Greg Remson’s report on security operations for 2008 began with the department’s mission statement and a definition of its authority provided by CSD legal counsel in May 2008. The Security Department’s mission is “to protect life and property, as well as to provide prompt, courteous and professional service to the public within the Rancho Murieta Community Services District.”
Security patrol officers are not peace officers and the department does not have limited law enforcement status. The board authorized citizen’s arrests and granted indemnity to officers making citizen’s arrests last year.
Security officers provide crime prevention through visibility, observing problems and notifing the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement action. They mediate, educate and inform people of a rule or law, contact parents, enforce homeowner association rules, stabilize a scene until law enforcement arrives, and refer calls to law enforcement.
According to Remson’s report, the main security issues in the community are juvenile/young adult problems centered on vandalism, curfew, skateboarding and malicious mischief; property crimes that consist of thefts from locked and unlocked vehicles and unlocked garages; loud music and loud parties, and speeding and stop sign violations.
Security statistics for 2008 show there were 439 penal code complaints -– 16 for burglary, 46 for trespass, 75 for petty/grand theft, 94 for vandalism and 208 disturbances. There were 61 crime reports taken by the Sheriff’s Department.
Department staffing consists of six patrol officers, including Remson and Sgt. Jim Bieg. Ten gate officers -– eight full-time, one part-time, and one temporary officer -– staff the North and South gates 24 hours a day. Gate officers check in guests, answer phones, assist walk-in customers, dispatch patrol offices and issue bar codes for vehicles.
Vehicle traffic through the gates declined somewhat compared to 2007, with the vendor and construction categories declining most. The gate traffic categories are construction, guests, real estate, Country Club, vendor and special event. Resident traffic through the gates is not tracked.
The largest category is guest traffic. There were 43,129 guest vehicles on the North (down from 45,698 in 2007) and 23,459 on the South (down from 28,430 in 2007).
The gated community accounted for 74 percent of calls for service Security received last year and 75 percent of patrol time. Most RMA calls for service – 24 percent -- are for complaints, citations and admonishments.
Last year Security responded to 372 calls about loose dogs, 280 calls about barking dogs, 70 snake calls and 84 deer calls.
The James L. Noller Safety Center continues to operate with local Volunteers In Partnership with the Sheriff staffers Myrna Solomon and Jacque Villa. Last fall, Solomon received a 100-hour service pin and Villa received a 1,000-hour service pin for their work as VIPS.
The department continued to supplement patrol with off-duty sheriff’s deputies.
“I think we’re fine,” said Kjome when President Bobbi Belton asked the board if the review of the statistics indicated a need for police powers. Remson said it would take time to get perspective from the statistics.
Secretary Suzanne Lindenfeld was honored with a certificate from the Special District Leadership Foundation for successfully completing the Special District Academy. The California Special Districts Association announced Lindenfeld’s achievement in its statewide newsletter, and she received the congratulations of the board at Wednesday’s meeting.
The board reviewed the second draft of the 2009-2010 budget and authorized the mailing of a rate increase notice to ratepayers. The average monthly CSD bill for water, sewer, security, drainage and garbage collection services would go up less than 1 percent as a result of the increase. The proposed budget calls for increasing garbage collection rates 6.5 percent because of higher tipping fees charged by the county. Previous coverage of the proposed rate increase is here.
The board approved a contract to remove sludge from a treatment pond at the wastewater treatment plant at a cost not to exceed $17,000.
The board approved revised policies for bidding, construction and acceptance of public works and the procedure for approval and acceptance of developer improvements. The policies were reviewed and revised by CSD legal counsel.
Live-blog coverage of meeting
Here are the key meeting topics, and the time they appear, from the meeting live blog, which is below:
5:22 -- Security Chief Greg Remson reports on the department's operations in 2008.
6:28 -- Should the board spray to deal with midge fly problems at Laguna Joaquin?