The Community Services District board decided Wednesday to consult with the Country Club and Rancho Murieta Association boards before proceeding with plans to implement a policy on making DUI vehicle stops. They also heard a presentation on drought planning.
Draft DUI vehicle stop policy
General Manager Ed Crouse introduced the draft DUI policy by saying it was prompted by an incident involving a teenage driver who had an accident in the residential area of Rancho Murieta and was arrested by the California Highway Patrol for driving under the influence.
"There was concern that our officers while following the driver couldn't effect a voluntary stop or a stop at all," Crouse said.
In response to the incident, the CSD formed an ad-hoc committee, and Directors Steve Mobley and Bobbi Belton, Security Chief Greg Remson, Crouse, Director of Administration Darlene Gillum and CSD legal counsel Jonathan Hobbs developed the draft policy.
"We crafted the policy to allow the patrol officers to effect a voluntary stop by flashing the yellow lights for an incident where the suspected DUI driver is driving so erratically that it's a threat to public health and safety," Crouse said. "And, if the driver is found to be intoxicated, the officers can effect a citizen's arrest. But prior to all of this, they will have called the CHP to let them know that there's a potential drunk driver in Rancho Murieta." The CHP would make the definitive DUI determination, Crouse said.
The board was being asked for direction on how to proceed with the policy, Crouse said. "The next step for staff would be to meet with the DA, sheriff, and CHP to make sure they're on board with it, bring a final draft back to the board in September for public review and comment for a 30-day period, with an eye towards final approval in October or November."
"Our challenge was our present policy doesn't allow us to make vehicle stops, period," Remson told the board. "And what this will do is it will allow us to do that. it will give us another tool, but a voluntary tool because we're not peace officers, and there is no requirement to stop. That's why that's written in the draft policy because we want to make sure people are aware of that also. And our goal is not to go hunting potential DUIs. Our goal is to be able to take action on a bad DUI, the one that's an immediate threat. If we can have the backing and be able to try to bring that to a safe resolution, that's what this would do."
Belton pointed out that policy pertains only to the area behind the gates, although the district encompasses areas south of Highway 16 -- Murieta Village, Murieta Airport, the Plaza, the Country Store and the Equestrian Center. She asked Remson to explain why the proposed policy is "limited to driving behavior behind the gates."
Remson responded, "Our focus is, and again, because we're not peace officers, we're security officers, we wanted to limit our scope, and our scope is better control within the gates. ... It's primarily residents or guests that have been checked in by an officer." The commercial areas outside the gates get "a lot more" transient population traffic, especially at night, he said.
"While the vehicle code isn't in effect on private streets by the RMA rule, nonetheless DUI is one of the exceptions that the CHP will come in. They have the authority on private property regardless of whether the vehicle code is adopted," Crouse said.
Since stops would be a voluntary response to flashing amber lights, Director Jerry Pasek said he didn't think anyone would stop. "What happens if ... the person doesn't stop and continues to drive into his driveway and closes the garage door?" he asked. "Then it's over," Crouse said. "There's nothing we can do," Belton agreed.
"What I would like to see is that the RMA act upon it," Mobley said. "And maybe look into having as they have in Grass Valley at Lake of the Pines, where they made it a homeowners association rule that you and your guest will have to stop for security. But it will be very limited circumstances...."
Director Betty Ferraro said she has heard people in the community express concern that "the officers may be sitting over in the area of the Country Club watching people go home. This is not the object of what we're trying to do here."
In replying to Ferraro, Remson said, "We've never done that. ... The Country Club is a small part of the whole area inside the gates. And there are many more residents not connected to the Country Club that drive within the community."
Ferraro asked Remson what officers look for to identify the driver of a "golf cart, or a car or motorcycle, or whatever the vehicle is" as impaired. "There's a standard, pretty simple, really, initial list that you look for," Remson said. "Everything from swerving to what we see a lot that makes it pretty clear to us is people that run up on curbs, they don't stop properly or they don't stop at all, headlights. A combination of things. It's normally not one thing. Although the car that did drive into the South Gate last week was missing the rubber off of its tire was a pretty clear indicator that there was an issue."
"We're not going to be chasing them down or cutting them off, or anything like that," Belton said.
Remson said CHP is currently notified whenever Security receives information about a potential DUI. "We'd rather have them on the way ... rather than be three, four, five, 10 minutes behind in calling them," Remson said.
Pasek said he'd like to require officers to use video cameras when making a stop "so that there's no argument about what caused you to make the stop."
"It will be and it is a standard practice with us now," Remson said. "If we're going to a call where we feel there may be an incident or an issue, we will turn the car cameras on."
Linda Garcia and Mike Martel disagreed at the CSD board meeting about a policy allowing Security patrol officers to make DUI vehicle stops.
Reaction to policy
Linda Garcia, the resident who has advocated for a change in policy to allow stops since the incident at her home in May, came to podium at this point.
"We have to let our officers do what they're trained for and let them pull these people over...." she said. "I'm very passionate about this. ... This kid was running up on curbs, speeding. And it went a long ways through Rancho Murieta, and nothing was done and he landed in my tree. And he could have killed himself, he could have ended up in my house, he could have gotten up on the highway and killed someone or himself. ... I also think that RMA has got to do their duty and allow, you know, fines for these people who are not stopping for Security. Our Security needs to do their job. ... I think we're really lacking in allowing these drunk drivers to drive through our community ... They're probably not going to stop, either, but ... at least we tried. ... I'm going to go to RMA. ... That's all we can do is try."
Garcia was followed to the podium by Mike Martel, a candidate for the CSD board and a former RMA and Country Club director.
"I have a little difference of opinion with Ms. Garcia," Martel began. "I see that we're adopting a policy not for the whole district but only for a portion of the district. You're mandating a policy for RMA where you have no authority at RMA. And I see the community as not just children drinking. I see it's a lot of events like ETC, Summerfest, the Kiwanis things, all these things that are out there. ... I don't drink, by the way. I haven't drank in 20 years, so it doesn't affect me. But I see every single day they're going to be looking at people that live here ... that mind the rules and abide, and they bring half a bottle of wine down to ETC and listen to the concerts, and I think we're giving much too discretionary authority to people that have never done this process before. You've had a major incident. I think you're rushing a little bit. I think you should get input into the community on what they want to see.
"All the surveys that we have done they have not wanted security to change. They have not wanted security to go to peace officers. ... And I think there's much more of a drinking problem outside the community, and I don't understand why the same safety wouldn't apply to ... the ratepayers over there -- the Mexican restaurant or to the other restaurants over there. ... The security, when they pull the lights, because as respect they absolutely pull over when they think you've run the stop sign or rolled through the stop sign. There's a lot of difference of opinion about what a full stop is. RMA right now is readjusting their fines for these discretionary moving violations. They're actually going back to less of fines. So I think you need to talk about use of force because when you pull a 19-year-old over or somebody who's intoxicated, they're going to argue with Security. ... So there's going to be exchanges of words, they're going to be exchanges of other things, and Mr. Mobley, you know this. ... There's a confrontation that's going to occur."
RMA , Country Club roles
Following Martel's remarks, Ferraro asked Remson to comment on the probable role for the Rancho Murieta Association Compliance Department. "If someone's arrested for DUI, Compliance isn't involved in it at all," Remson said. "For example, we've had two DUI arrests in the past week, and Compliance was not, and is not, going to be involved at all."
Martel said it would take the RMA at least 90 days to adopt a new rule. "They have not adopted those rules because the surveys that they have got have been just the opposite of the direction you guys are going in. They do not want the change. ... Is there any mechanism or way force is going to be used to prevent the person from driving or leaving? Are they going to pull guns? Are they going to pull batons? ... Most intoxicated people, they avoid arrest. ... Are you going to pursue them?"
"They're not going to do hot pursuit," Belton said.
"I've always had the concern about the use of force. And I don't drink, and I don't like drunk drivers," Martel said. "...We're changing the rules pretty drastically here, the way we do business in Rancho Murieta ... and if it's a good safety policy, why not all the district?"
"I would not like to see us to do nothing further right now until we have heard the position of the Country Club board in writing," said Director Dick Taylor.
"The Country Club is not ruling what is going on in Rancho Murieta," Garcia said. "They represent a bunch of drunks...."
From his seat in the audience, resident John Sullivan asked Garcia if her comments were libel or slander.
"Who cares? They're drunks. A lot of them," Garcia responded.
"I don't think this is the time or place to talk about who gets drunk at the Country Club," Belton said.
"It makes it sound like we're making a policy for what's going on in the Country Club. ... The Country Club is one part of it," Garcia responded.
"We're going to take this under advisement and have staff follow up on Director Taylor's request," Belton said.
Audience member Dennis Martel, who, like his brother, Mike, is a former Country Club director, came to the podium to say, "The one thing I cannot understand if this goes through is this voluntary pullover." Unlike Pasek, Martel didn't see why someone wouldn't just pull over. "When you're driving at 10:30 at night and the light starts flashing ... I just can't see somebody not being intimidated and not pulling over and doing whatever that person in charge is telling you to do." Martel said he didn't see how the CSD would inform people "they had the right to continue to go to their home unobstructed if they want to."
CSD counsel Hobbs spoke after Mobley asked him to address issues that had been raised.
"Primarily inside the gates, you have residents, people who live here. What staff is concerned about and what I'm concerned about from a legal perspective is that you start enforcing this policy against nonresidents, someone who happens to be driving through the district," Hobbs said. "The officers are not law enforcement officers, they're security officers. Their charge is to observe and report. What this policy attempts to do is give them an additional tool to observe and report and try to gain voluntary compliance with the residents within the district to curb DUI driving and intoxicated driving, and hopefully prevent some of the incidents that prompted this type of policy."
"Legally there is nothing preventing us from doing this policy," Mobley said.
"That is correct," Hobbs replied.
"I think we gotta solve the problem," Mike Martel said, returning to the podium to address the board. "I think we solve the problem where we have less people driving. In the early days when I got here, you'd make a phone call and somebody'd come pick you up and you left your car at either one of the restaurants across the street or the Country Club or that kind of stuff there, and there's a cooperation, there's a driver program and some other stuff. ... I think your attempt is not a bad one and you definitely have the legal right to do that. I think we need to put a little more thought to this thing and get all the parties involved. I don't believe the Country Club other than a little word of mouth have been involved. I don't think RMA has been totally a partner ... I think we're going a little fast. I think we need to get all the parties involved and get consent from everybody on a nice way on how to solve the problem."
Mobley commented, "I would like to think the folks who live in Rancho Murieta know it's against the law to drink and drive. If you're driving under the influence in the state of California, you're an idiot. Private property, public property, it doesn't really matter. So I don't think we need the board to tell us that they think it's OK. I don't quite get where we're going there."
Country Club Director Chris Pasek, wife of Jerry Pasek, was seated with Dennis and Mike Martel, and came to the podium to say she would bring the draft policy to the Country Club board, which meets this week.
"I think we should be soliciting information from all of the principle sources in the community," Taylor said.
"I'm just kind of confused as to what we are going to ask them and expect them to answer," said Mobley, a retired sheriff's sergeant. "Are we to ignore a crime occurring in the presence of our officers? Are they willing to put that in writing for us, and we'll report back to the board and let the community know what they wrote? I'm kind of confused on this. ... I don't know what we're waiting for. I don't know why we even go to these boards."
"The only way you can be against the policy is if you support drunk driving," Belton said.
"The Country Club has a golf (snack) cart," Martel said. "They serve food and alcoholic beverages. So when everybody's driving their golf cart, the Country Club is offering alcoholic beverages while driving a vehicle. ... They cross at five different places, public streets, RMA streets. So to be quite honest with you, this is a tiny bit more entangled than it just seemed. So if you pull somebody over, or the Highway Patrol, the next question the Highway Patrol's going to ask the person is 'Where did you get the alcohol from?' ... I think (Dick Taylor)'s got it right -- I think you want the Country Club to weigh in their conversations and their concerns. ... The other place that has the most alcohol is the Equestrian Center. They have a lot of events up there. So you're not adapting a districtwide policy. You're cherry-picking where you're enforcing. Your attorney says they're residents, but we probably have 250 renters that don't own any property, so the people that own the property are responsible for their behavior and some other problems."
"The vehicles are registered," said Mobley in response. "We know who they are, and there's only one way in, one way out, so you have a captured audience, so to speak. I see your point, driving across the roadways and stuff, but we aren't going to be enforcing open container in a golf cart. That's not what we're talking about."
The board directed Crouse to get responses to the policy from community entities various boards. He said he planned "to get input back in time for the Security Committee meeting, in writing.
An overview of the water shortage contingency plan was presented to the board. The plan is a legal requirement, and it's designed to "outline what you would do in a shortage, including emergencies, but specifically longer-range droughts," consultant Lisa Maddaus explained. Each stage describes water shortage conditions and the actions needed to deal with them, as well as the desired customer response.
Drought years are inevitable, Maddaus said. "The flows go up and down on the Cosumnes River. ... Preparedness is vital. It will happen again."
Although much of the CSD's water planning has looked at buildout scenarios, the water shortage contingency plan looks at current demand and conditions. If there were a drought next year as severe as the 1976-77 "and you didn't do anything with any cutbacks, you would become dry," Maddaus said. But in a less severe drought, like the 1987-'88-'90 hydrology, with current demand and no drought cutbacks, "you'll see you actually make it through pretty well," she said. "You're not at full buildout obviously, so you have more supplies in a more moderate drought to make it through."
Drought stages in the plan range from zero, with normal water conservation, through Stage Four, a water emergency necessitating water use for health and safety only, with cutbacks greater than 50 percent.
The CSD would monitor a number of drought indicators -- the state drought status, river flows, precipitation, and snow pack water content -- to make decisions about drought stages.
Consultant Bill Maddaus, Lisa's father, reviewed the stages. "In our normal years, we're always encouraging people to conserve water and be water efficient. We're enforcing prohibiting water waste. You know, over-irrigation, water running down the gutter. We're working on a 20/20 plan to reduce per capita consumption 20 percent by 2020, and 10 percent by 2015," he said.
"Droughts tend to come along about every 10-20 years," Maddaus said. "...The '76-'77 (drought) was really a wake-up call for California."
Outdoor water use is targeted in the drought stages, Maddaus said, "because that's what's discretionary. It's really overwatering the lawns. ... Most people overwater their lawns. ... That's our basic issue and that's our basic tool for dealing with droughts is cutting back on irrigation. That's where most of the water use is going to be in the summer when we're going to be most concerned about this."
Maddaus said people respond by cutting back when they're convinced there's a problem and their actions can make a difference. In a drought, there will be media attention and people can observe the lower lake and river levels for themselves. "If you're in a very serious drought, you're not going to be the only ones," he noted. "There's going to be a pretty good message."
In a drought, "the situation is going to develop monthly," Maddaus told the board. "Every board meeting, you're going to be deciding, 'Are we still in Stage 1, should we go to Stage 2?' ... So it's going to be a challenge. ... Our rainy period and the snow comes generally December through March. ... You would move from Stage 1 to Stage 2 if the situation warranted it probably in April. And this might be enough to get you through the summer."
Watering would be cut to two days a week in Stage 2. "Two days a week isn't going to kill the vegetation. ... We're going to implement a new tier pricing scheme and a drought surcharge. ... The key is your billing system has to be ready at almost a moment's notice to be able to do this," Maddaus advised.
Stage 3 is a water crisis that necessitates a goal of reducing water use by up to 50 percent with more cutbacks in exterior use and penalty surcharges for the top tier of water users. Flow restrictors can be installed on a temporary basis to enforce compliance with water cutbacks, although a requirement for all new homes to have fire sprinkler systems complicates this, Maddaus said.
Crouse said the CSD will publish the text of the water supply contingency policy for the public to view and comment on before its adoption by the board.
"Once we are in a drought, that's going to trigger a drought response plan," Crouse said. Drought pricing, surcharges and tiered pricing will be included in the plan, and public outreach will be the most important aspect of the plan, he said. The plan would provide information about water use by lot type, where the community is on its 20/20 compliance, and how much water is saved by various conservation measures.
- The board approved placing $55,711 in delinquent accounts for 28 parcels on the county tax rolls for collection. Sacramento County purchases the delinquencies under the Teeter Plan.
- A personal property policy triggered by a recent incident puts employees on notice that personal property is on district property at their own risk.