The Community Services District board of directors voted to grant indemnity from civil lawsuits to patrol officers making a citizen’s arrest, but decided to monitor security operations over the next six months before considering changes in the department’s powers. Other board decisions at Wednesday’s meeting included requiring developers to pay CSD’s legal expenses for negotiating an agreement to provide water and sewer services for new development before resuming negotiations. The board also heard from a group of residents about problems with midge flies at Laguna Joaquin.
Before the unanimous vote to adopt the indemnification policy, General Manager Ed Crouse told the board that patrol officers have indemnity under government code, but a citizen’s arrest is “outside the normal scope of their duties and is not covered.”
“They can always choose not to act,” CSD legal counsel Steve Rudolph said.
In a memo he prepared for the board last month, Rudolph recommended adopting the policy “to encourage CSD security officers to make citizen’s arrests for violations of state and county law that occur within district boundaries ….”
At Wednesday’s meeting, Security Chief Greg Remson was asked if his officers wanted indemnification. Yes, he answered, adding that they view it as “having the support of the board.”
“They’re concerned about making citizen’s arrests because that’s a big deal,” he said.
Remson was also asked about the circumstances where a patrol officer would make a citizen’s arrest. “It would be some type of violent crime that would not stop. It would be drunk driving. … It would be an immediate public safety danger. … It wouldn’t be curfew or anything like that,” he replied.
After passing the policy, the board continued to discuss security issues.
Although CSD Security consistently earns high marks in customer satisfaction surveys, a legal opinion about the limits of CSD enforcement authority has raised questions about the level of security services the community wants and what kind of authority may be necessary to deliver them.
According to the legal opinion Rudolph presented in May, CSD doesn’t have the authority to exercise police power, and CSD ordinances that regulate personal conduct can’t be enforced because they require this power.
At this month’s Security Committee meeting, Remson said, “Although we didn’t write a lot of ordinance citations, it was still a tool, it was still a threat, it was still a hammer that we had that we don’t have any more. But that’s not to say that we can’t still do the job, and still keep it a safe place to live.”
The CSD does have the authority to enforce homeowners association CC&Rs. The Rancho Murieta Association is developing rules for vandalism, skateboarding and curfew that can be enforced by Security patrol officers. A recently adopted RMA rule also requires “any person believed by an on-duty Security Officer to have committed a violation … to stop the activity upon request and identify himself or herself and give his or her residence address” or be subject to a fine.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Director Bobbi Belton made a motion to continue with the current security authority and operation, which includes the use of off-duty sheriff’s deputies to supplement Security patrol, and revisit the issue next March before preparation begins for the 2009-10 budget.
According to Belton’s motion, “the board of directors (will) indefinitely cease any further discussion or consideration of the creation or formation of a CSD ‘police department.’”
The motion calls for keeping detailed records of Security calls for service, and maintaining contact with the Sheriff’s Department and the district attorney’s office.
“Does this mean we do not want a catch-and-detain force in Murieta?” asked resident Lisa Taylor.
“It means that now, but it will be revisited in the six-month period, in March,” Belton said. “… At the last meeting Bob (Kjome) said why don’t we leave it like we have it now and supplement with off-duty (deputies). We’ve increased the budget 50 percent this fiscal year to increase off-duty coverage … and I think the changes in the Sheriff’s Department may end up having beneficial effect on more regular presence in our community …”
Earlier in the meeting, Remson said the Sheriff’s Department plans to realign its service areas in January 2009. The Sheriff’s Department is considering moving coverage of Rancho Murieta from its East Division in Rancho Cordova to the Delta Division to reduce response time, which is currently at least 30 minutes, he said.
Belton’s motion passed unanimously.
No funds, no negotiation, board says
If developers want to negotiate an agreement to provide water and sewer services to their projects, they’ll have to pay up front, CSD directors said at Wednesday’s meeting. Director Bobbi Belton pointed out there is no money in the 2008-2009 budget to pay for CSD legal expenses for the negotiation.
The developers appeared at the Improvements Committee meeting this month to ask the CSD to resume negotiations for the agreement.
The district is already owed $100,000 for negotiations that go back as far as 2004, General Manager Ed Crouse said. “The developers were going to repay that amount when the (financing and services agreement for new infrastructure) was signed as a condition of signing. … We’ve asked for and received concurrence from them to bring us whole as a condition to get started …,” he said.
Originally, the Pension Trust Fund for Operating Engineers put up a letter of credit to pay the CSD for costs related to the financing and services agreement, Crouse said. The PTF backed away from negotiations in 2004 and the money ran out, he said.
“The developers have paid for other items such as redesigns of the water plant and additional studies for capacity and wastewater studies, so they’ve paid upfront for a lot of activities associated with the (agreement),” Crouse said.
In addition to the $100,000 that’s owed, the developers will be asked to pay an additional $100,000 as a deposit for the remaining negotiation.
The timeline the developers presented at the committee meeting calls for a draft version of the agreement to go to the CSD board in February 2009. After a six-month review for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, the final agreement would go the board in October 2009.
Under this scenario, the water treatment plant expansion would be completed by December 2011.
Protesting the midge fly
A small, pesky fly proved to be more of a crowd draw Wednesday at the CSD than rate increases were a few months ago.
A contingent of seven speakers lead by former CSD Director Mary Brennan told the board they’re overwhelmed by the midge fly population around Laguna Joaquin.
The district first dealt with the pest problem in 2002. At that time, mosquitofish and Threespine Stickleback fish were added to the lake to feed on the larvae. The next year, spray was used because the fish weren’t available. By 2005, the annual cost was $12,000 for three applications of spray. This year, the CSD stopped spraying after one application, and dropped the expenditure from the 2008-2009 budget to save money.
Several directors promised to look into the matter before midge season begins next year.
Strategy to avoid a 'worst case' permit
The board approved spending $38,415 for additional testing and sampling in hopes of avoiding “worst case” permit requirements for discharging treated wastewater into the Cosumnes River during winter storm flows.
The district is applying for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in compliance with the Clean Water Act.
The permit has been characterized as “an insurance policy” for the district if there is excess wastewater in the ponds at the wastewater treatment plant at a time of the year when it can’t be put to beneficial use.
Some of the constituent levels will be “a function of what the water quality in the river is,” said consultant Jack Grossman, vice president of HydroScience Engineers. “We simply don’t have an awful lot of winter data. … So in the absence of having that data, they’re likely to slap on a very low toxicity level, and we would want to be prepared to show them the river is in much better condition in terms of receiving our effluent.”
Director Bob Kjome asked if the sampling would take place “during a wet condition, where the river is raging.”
“Well, that’s when we would discharge, so that’s what we have to match it to,” Grossman said.
The CSD board honored Morrison Graf with a proclamation recognizing the more than four years he served as scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 633. Graf is staying on as an assistant scoutmaster. The troop honored him earlier this month.