Do we want 'real' traffic enforcement? RMA may vote on it
A proposal that would result in “real” tickets for speeding and stop sign violations is expected to come before the Rancho Murieta Association board this month. How the board reacts may be an indicator of what level of law enforcement the community wants.
President Dick Cox told the Joint Security Committee he supports passing a resolution to allow enforcement of the California motor vehicle code on the association’s private streets, and will see to it that the resolution is placed on the October board meeting agenda.
“Personally, I’m all for it,” he said at Monday’s meeting. At other times, he has acknowledged a majority of the RMA board may not agree.
When the issue came up at last month’s committee meeting, Cox said living in a private community doesn’t give “our membership the right to ignore the laws of the state of California and the county of Sacramento. People who don’t want it on their driving record need to learn how to stop at stop signs and obey our speed laws.”
If the RMA board were to pass a resolution asking the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to allow enforcement of the motor vehicle code, it wouldn’t be an everyday occurrence, according to Community Services District Security Chief Greg Remson. Most traffic violations would continue to be written up as RMA rule violations by Security patrol officers and the RMA Compliance Department because enforcement of the motor vehicle code is a police function.
In Rancho Murieta, enforcement could be done by sheriff’s deputies, including the off-duty deputies the CSD hires to supplement Security patrol, and California Highway Patrol officers. The private community of Serrano contracts with the CHP for a set number of hours of enforcement monthly, Remson said.
“The ability of law enforcement to do traffic increases the ability of law enforcement to make contact with people. … It’s a good tool in the big picture also,” he told the committee last month.
Even if CSD patrol officers had law enforcement power, they couldn’t stop motorists and write tickets for motor vehicle code violations unless the RMA petitioned the supervisors to impose the code on the private streets.
At Monday’s committee meeting, Cox repeatedly criticized the level of security CSD patrol now provides and accused the CSD of being without a plan for security.
“They can’t stop, they can’t detain, they can’t do anything that I associate with security,” Cox said.
At different times during the meeting, CSD Director Bobbi Belton, the committee chair, and CSD General Manager Ed Crouse responded to Cox. Both referred to a motion the CSD board approved last month.
“We have a plan. The resolution made it clear we weren’t going to pursue law enforcement power,” Crouse said. “… The second point was we’re going to keep the Security Department with no expansion of powers. We’re going to work with RMA and the off-duty sheriff (deputies) for the additional services as needed on a case-by-case basis. … Our board members have listened to the people in the community, and the feedback that they’ve received so far is that the majority of the community likes security just the way it is even after the reduction in its powers. They’ve heard that loud and clear from the community. … They hear you loud and clear likewise … The reality is your voice is just one in the community, but also as the president we’re relying on you to speak on behalf of the RMA.…”
“You know what, Ed, we’re hearing things too. We’re hearing that security is not satisfactory right now,” Cox replied.
At the CSD Security Committee meeting the following day, CSD President Wayne Kuntz said, “We’re trying to accommodate what the residents want and what the residents expect.… People feel more threatened by a police force than they do protected by a police force. And that’s the kind of comments that I’ve been getting from residents.… They would like our Security to have a little more teeth in what they can do, but they definitely don’t want them to go from what they are to a police force.”
At the Joint Security Committee meeting, Deputy District Attorney Kim Zdobnikow suggested conducting a poll of the community. “CSD and the whole community is at a crossroads. The problem, I think, with CSD and what they’re trying to get at, is, what does the community want?”
Members of the committee endorsed her idea and will bring back potential questions for a joint survey at the November meeting.
The RMA Compliance Committee approved changes the Governing Documents Committee made in rules proposed for curfew, vandalism and skateboarding at its meeting Monday. The rules will go back to the RMA board with the committee’s recommendation. If the board approves them at this month’s meeting, they’ll go out to the membership for a 30-day comment period. The board will vote on enacting the rules after the comment period.
At Monday’s Joint Security Committee meeting, Deputy District Attorney Kim Zdobnikow said she was working with CSD Security on a process to deal with skateboarding complaints at the Plaza. It involves the notice of trespass program, which is used for activities like loitering and panhandling that interfere with businesses. “The person who is disturbing the business would be given this form … saying ‘your activity is interfering with our business and you are no longer welcome here,’” she said.
If the person returns and continues the activity, “technically they can be arrested for trespassing … it’s a criminal incident.”
CSD patrol would respond to a skateboarding problem at the Plaza by giving the form to the child and following up with the parents for the first occurrence, she said.
Zdobnikow said the program has been 80 to 85 percent successful in preventing reoccurrences. “I think it would be even more effective with children, especially once you inform their parents,” she said.
- Security group is told RMA will enact new rules, stiffer fines (July 8, 2008)
- CSD acts to protect Security officers from lawsuits – but not expand powers (September 19, 2008)
Hey Dick, CSD does have a plan....they plan to do nothing different than they are doing now.
They didn't say whether it was a good plan or not
Btw, I would like to know how CSD has determined that the majority of residents understand what security can do now and how they gathered the data that the majority think that this is sufficient. Maybe that would make a great Pipeline article? They could publish the data there?
(site updated 10/9/08)
Thank you, Dick, for at least trying to bring this up again. Our inability to effectively enforce traffic safety with RMA citations alone is a problem we will have to confront sooner or later.
Our present system relying exclusively upon RMA fines is at least marginally effective as to speeding by RMA members. Security, even though it is illegal for them to try to stop a car to write a ticket, can take down a resident's license number, report it to RMA, and RMA can then fine them. Because they are members and as such contractually bound to the CC&Rs fine power.
This system is entirely impotent, however, as to visitors, vendors, and other nonmembers, hundreds of whom come in every day. RMA CANNOT FINE THEM AND THERE IS NOTHING ELSE CSD CAN LEGALLY DO BESIDES REPORT THEM TO RMA. And the off-duty Sheriff's deputies CSD "rents" as a supplement can't stop a car to enforce a private covenant, either. They can only use their peace officer powers to enforce State and County laws. I'm not entirely certain, but I doubt that in the hundreds of hours the off-duties have spent in R.M. under hourly contract they have EVER written an RMA ticket. For anything. The Sheriff doesn't want them in the middle of private contractual disputes, which is all those RMA tickets are. So under the current arrangement I don't think they can even give us the very limited enforcement teeth CSD officers can, because CSD officers will at least write that RMA ticket. And RMA tickets is all that we have available as a deterrent.
I do not insist there is a present emergency, though I believe this is already a problem of some significance. However, the building of many hundreds of non-Member homes behind the gate several years from now will result in a sharp increase in non-Member traffic on our streets, both those new non-Member residents and all the growth in visitors, vendors etc. they will bring, starting with the construction worker traffic when construction begins.
I think it wise, indeed almost essential, to have this in place before construction starts in the New North. I will leave it to others to argue whether it needs to be done immediately, as I am more concerned about that coming tidal shift in traffic. But I think if it's to be done it would be wise to be approaching the Supervisors while RMA is the only Association they have to listen and respond to on the proposed resolution.
Polling the entire membership to get a real sense of the entire membership's feelings about real traffic enforcement, instead of relying on what Directors hear from a handful of people at the 19th hole, would probably be prudent. Many people have told me -- out loud -- that they don't want real police patrolling out here because they don't want to be cited for speeding or, in particular, arrested for DUI. It is asserted to me that a majority of members feel that way. I'm not sure that the moms of the kids on our sidewalks are fans of impunity to drive around drunk, the ability to do it and get away with it, because these are private streets and nobody is patrolling them who has actual arrest powers or the ability to pull you over to smell your breath. Only a real poll would reveal just how prevalent that feeling is. Otherwise we will just have people on both sides claiming, without evidence, to speak for the majority.