RMA backs away from supporting DUI effort
The Rancho Murieta Association board showed little enthusiasm Tuesday night for a proposal for DUI vehicle stops in the community, saying the Community Services District needs to consider its plan more carefully to avoid legal risks and RMA would require more research before proceeding. Also at the monthly meeting, the board voted to extend the voting deadline for a CC&R change to allow motorcycles on the North.
DUI vehicle stop policy
CSD General Manager Ed Crouse and Security Greg Remson appeared at the RMA meeting to explain the policy the CSD is considering adopting for DUI vehicle stops in the gated community. At last week's CSD meeting, Crouse was directed by his board to get input from other boards before proceeding with the policy.
The CSD view
"I'm here to clear up perhaps a little bit of confusion or misunderstanding about the policy," Crouse told the RMA board Tuesday. "First and foremost, we're not here to change any of the mores or the values of the community. We're not here to stop drinking. If people want to drink at the Country Club, at ETC or other events or at their home, more power to them. What we're here to do, in this policy, is try to prevent driving while intoxicated. And we're not going to have DUI stops. We're not going to sit and poach down below the Country Club on Alameda (Drive). We're not going to pull anybody over for a rolling stop. This is to effect a voluntary stop for when a reasonable person sees somebody driving -- we've all been there -- on the highway or on the street, you see somebody weaving, and you say, 'That guy's drunk. That's an accident waiting to happen. He's going to kill somebody.' …
"For those incidents, we want our officers to flash their yellow lights to gain their attention, we'd like the driver to pull over, we'd like to make a voluntary contact with that individual and ascertain whether they've been drinking and driving. But before we … pull them over, … we will have already called the CHP, and we will have told them there's a possible DUI driver in the community. And we will want the CHP to come out and respond. … If our officers feel the person is driving while intoxicated, they can effect a citizen's arrest, just like anybody else in the community.…
Community Services District General Manager Ed Crouse, right, addresses the RMA board while Security Chief Greg Remson, standing left, awaits his turn.
"We want to try to protect the public health and safety, and property in the community by stopping a drunk driver that's driving so erratically that it is an imminent threat to public safety and property. … It's the result of an accident, we had two actually, young kids, within a week, that were drinking and driving … By the grace of god, they lived through it, and they didn't hurt anybody, themselves included …"
The first accident occurred May 21. The vehicle ran off the road hit a tree in the front yard of a home on Guadalupe Drive. A Security patrol officer had observed the car being driven erratically before the accident, but was unable to attempt a stop under current CSD policy. The CHP arrested the driver for DUI.
The second accident was a rollover on Murieta Parkway that sent the driver to the hospital with a head injury. A CHP investigation of the accident found alcohol was involved, Security later reported.
"People are concerned about DUI drivers. But on the flip side, they don't want to have the vehicle code enforced on the streets in Rancho Murieta," Crouse said. "But, be that as it may, the CHP can and does come in and arrest DUI drivers. So we're not really changing any of the rules. What we're trying to do is prevent an accident from happening. And we're not going to chase anybody. If the individual doesn't stop, and goes home, parks his car and gets in the door, that's the end of the incident. We're not going to do anything further."
Directors Scott Adams and Bob Lucas, both lawyers, directed questions at Remson. Adams asked about Security's present procedures for dealing with suspected DUIs and Remson explained, "If we're behind a drunk driver or we are told there's a drunk driver, we immediately call CHP because we're so far out here, we want to get them started out here in the first place, and then if we have to call and cancel them, that's fine. But normally what we do is we follow that person.…"
"So if they go back into their house, right now, the way things are working, then you call the CHP and say they're home?" asked Adams.
"Correct. And if CHP chooses to respond, that's up to them. That's their internal policies," Remson replied.
After verifying that it took an hour for the Highway Patrol respond in the incident where the driver hit the tree, Adams asked how long Security officers could be waiting for CHP if they effected a stop under the proposed policy.
"Potentially it could take hours," Remson said, and described the most recent DUI incidents. "One was a resident crashed over on Scott Road, and … made it home," he said. Security was informed after the driver ran the traffic light at Murieta Parkway and "almost hit another resident. And as we were heading over to see what was happening, she pulled into the South Gate, was missing the rubber on her left rear tire, so it was kind of doing the spark dance on the way in. … So contact with that driver was an easy one because they stopped." The previous week, a patrol officer contacted a driver at the North gate after observing signs "the driver had been drinking too much."
"Has there been any thought or study done of if you activate your lights it may increase the risk to the community because people would perhaps decide it's better to run?" asked Lucas.
"You're absolutely correct. That is a risk," Remson replied.
"Let's say you pull somebody over and they actually stop," said Adams. "…I would imagine you ask for the keys, and there's going to be a waiting period for CHP to show up. … What would you envision if the person who you pulled over wanted to walk away…?"
Remson used the two DUI episodes at the gates to explain that, regardless of how a Security officer contacts a driver suspected of being under the influence, once contact is made, the person cannot leave. "They were under citizen's arrest for suspicion of DUI," Remson said. "And we were going to wait at that point until CHP got there." If the wait is extended, "then we'd look at other options, which would be the Sheriff's Department for help."
"But if they start to leave and you say they're not free to go, then are we talking about potential physical altercation?" said Adams.
"Oh, absolutely, yes," Remson said.
The security log for the incident at the South Gate describes the suspected DUI driver as "verbally abusive and combative with patrol."
Director Martin Pohll asked Remson, "What's the main difference between what you do now and what this policy's going to do?"
"The stop. That's the only difference," Remson replied.
"And what is it you want from RMA?" Pohll said.
"Support," Remson said.
"I presume you've been deliberating this for sometime, decided how you wanted to write it and what the pros and cons were," Pohll said. "… If you wanted our support, why wouldn't you put us in those deliberations?"
"The deliberations are taking place effective now," said Crouse. "Our first airing of the policy was last week at our board meeting. … We wanted to get draft comments … and open it up for public review and comment...."
"Would CSD be willing to indemnify and hold RMA harmless from the acts that result when they turn on the lights?" asked Lucas. "…I'm kind of concerned why you want to do it inside the gates and not the whole district."
"… We feel with residents behind the gates we can have public outreach and education effort," Crouse said, characterizing limiting the policy to the gated residential areas as "a risk-averse decision. … We hope the policy in and of itself is a deterrent." Outside the gates, which includes the commercial area south of Highway 16, the airport, Equestrian Center and Murieta Village, Security will continue to "respond for calls for service for DUI, we'll make contact, but we won't do a yellow-light voluntary stop outside the gate," Crouse said.
"There is the potential for use of force to detain an individual that wants to walk away, there's an elevated risk of liability," Crouse said when Director Randy Jenco asked what concerns the CSD had when it consulted with its insurance provider about the policy. "…If there is an individual we suspect is DUI, we can't take one person home … and have another person arrested. … We'll let the CHP decide the final determination of whether the individual is drinking and driving."
"I used to do police liability defense," said Lucas. "As soon as you turn the lights on a vehicle the liability and risks go up astronomically, and you can't imagine the scenarios you get into. … The problem to me seems to be to run. The choice is I don't get anything if I run out the gate or run to my home or something … even if your policy is and the actuality is that Security doesn't chase after them. … they'll see the lights and say I'm gone, … and then maybe some kid's out in the middle of the road and gets hit or something. … I just think there needs to be more study of it.… "
"Obviously we've got to go back and look at the historical perspective," Director Tim Maybee said, "just from a cost-benefit analysis and the risk-benefit. … It's kind of a knee-jerk reaction because this latest kid who hit the tree, he decided to drink hours way before. … He made decisions hours ahead of time. We can't change those things."
"There are some people who live here who think by virtue of living here they have the right to drive drunk in the community," said President Jim Moore. "in my mind, nothing is further from the truth and we should not tolerate that. If I thought that this policy would stop people from driving drunk, I would vote for it in a second, or at least I would express my unconditional approval for it. I don't know that we're not getting ourselves into more trouble by trying to do this. … Maybe it does need a little more thinking through. I know you're not asking for our permission or our approval, but you wanted input, and I think you've gotten some."
"I can see literally that percentage of people who drink and drive out here and always have, they're going to be driving fast home every night," said Director Sam Somers.
"And that's the concern we had in the beginning of this is we don't want to make things worse," Remson said. "That's one of the reasons we have up to now we have a policy we don't pull people over. We don't pull people over because we don't want them taking off on us. And when you pull somebody over, now they're your responsibility, no matter what happens."
"I think you create a greater risk, potentially, anyway … whether we have rules or not rules, you end up with a situation where somebody … that wants to rabbit as soon as they see the lights," Lucas said.
The board heard from Betty Ferraro, a CSD director who said she was speaking as a resident, about taking the matter to various RMA committees. It was decided to continue the discussion at the September RMA Compliance Committee meeting where CSD will provide statistics on DUI incidents in the community. The board directed RMA staff to follow up on liability concerns with its insurance carrier.
Motorcycle CC&R vote extended
General Manager Nick Arther said the RMA would like to receive a vote of 80 percent of the membership on the proposed CC&R amendment to allow motorcycle use on the North under the same conditions allowed on the South. Arther asked the board to extend the deadline for the vote from Sept. 6 to Oct. 6. Arther said the amendment requires a vote of approval by 60 percent of the membership plus one for passage, a total of 1,300 votes, and 1,152 ballots had been received. He said the RMA was receiving about 20 votes a day.
This is the first extension of the voting period for the motorcycle vote. A maximum of two 30-day extensions is allowed. The board has granted both extensions for the membership vote on the community center and pool, for a total voting period of 90 days.
President Jim Moore, who opposed extending the community center vote last month, said he was in favor of extending the motorcycle vote "to at least to attempt to get the number of ballots that would be required for passage."
Director Bob Lucas argued in favor of extending the community center and pool vote last month, and opposed extending the motorcycle vote this month. "The more I think about it, the more I'm against it," he said. "…This is a petition that was brought to us by members. I have seen little or no effort on them to get out the vote on this matter. I don't see anyone here today. Nobody spoke at public comment."
Lucas' was the only vote in opposition to the 30-day extension.
The board approved Bob Andrews as director of elections and members of the tally committee for the motorcycle vote.
Parks Committee meeting
Jim Moore reported on the second meeting of the reactivated Parks Committee earlier this month. The committee received a history of the parks matrix from RMA Architectural Manager Mark Parsons and discussed plans for the uncompleted Greens Neighborhood Park in Murieta South. The committee agreed to add projects to the parks matrix, including the dog park, the community gardens and the pump track proposed for Riverview Park. No plans have been presented to the committee for the pump track project .
At the Parks Committee meeting, it was pointed out that Riverview Park won't be deeded to the RMA until a final map for the Riverview subdivision is recorded, and there is currently no access or easement agreement in place for the park. RMA General Manager Nick Arther told developer representative Les Hock that a memorandum of understanding was in process to address this.
The RMA acquired title to the Stonehouse, Calero, and Clementia park sites under the terms of the Mutual Benefit Agreement between RMA and the Pension Trust Fund for Operating Engineers.
The committee was told there is $84,694 in the parks fund. The fund is made up of contributions from developers on a per lot basis for new development, with smaller, matching contributions from the RMA. The fund has been stagnant since the housing market collapse.
Board votes to reactivate Joint Security Committee
The board voted 5-2 to approve a request by the CSD to reactivate the Joint Security Committee. Scott Adams and Sam Somers were the dissenting votes.
Asked to comment on the request to restart the committee, CSD General Manager Ed Crouse told the board it was an opportunity for dialogue about the DUI vehicle stop policy, the gates the Pension Trust Fund installed on its undeveloped property to keep out vehicle traffic, and other timely topics. Somers asked if the issues weren't already being addressed at the Presidents Meeting, a bi-monthly meeting primarily attended by the general managers and presidents of the RMA, CSD and Country Club. The meetings are closed to the public.
Randy Jenco expressed interest in possible PTF participation in a new Joint Security Committee, and Jim Moore said restarting the committee provided "more potential good than harm."
- Ballots for the community and aquatic center vote will be opened at the RMA Sept. 4, starting at 10 a.m. Members can observe the vote count by the tally committee under the supervision of Richard Silvis, director of elections. As of Tuesday, 1,541 ballots had been received, Assistant General Manager Danise Hetland said. The deadline for voting is Aug. 31.
- The board approved an $82,473 contract for RMA insurance coverage that includes general liability, property, automobile, umbrella, crime, workers' comp, and directors and officers liability. The RMA is receiving additional coverage at a cost that's $12,198 less than last year, Assistant General Manager Danise Hetland said. Under the new policy, umbrella coverage doubles from $5 million to $10 million.
- Saying they couldn't see why it it was RMA's responsibility, the directors voted unanimously to turn down the Country Club's request to share costs for the replacement of a collapsed pipe. The pipe runs under the Murieta South entrance roadway, an RMA street, and connects ponds at Holes 16 and 17 that receive reclaimed water for golf course irrigation from the Community Services District . "We're glad it's fixed," said President Jim Moore, but he added that the problem didn't seem to have any relation to RMA.
- Despite a new union contract with a projected labor increase of $30,000, the Maintenance Committee wants to keep 2013 budget increases to zero, committee chair Randy Jenco reported.
- The board approved Nancy Pohll and June Koefelda as members and Bill Ousley as an alternate on the Nominating Committee chaired by Tim Maybee. Applications are available at the RMA for the board positions currently held by Randy Jenco and Scott Adams. The deadline for submitting an application is 4 p.m. September 13. The term of an RMA director is three years. Bob Andrews was appointed director of elections for the board election.
- The board approved the purchase of a replacement all-terrain vehicle for $6,630 with funding to come from reserves. The vehicle is used by the Maintenance Department.
- A sports programming package was approved for the digital basic tier of RMA cable TV. The additional cost of up to $3 per subscriber would take the monthly rate to $22.99. The rate for basic cable is not affected.
I'm in disagreement with our CSD board having desired to delay voting / imposing this "new" policy. Unlike the RMA board, I don't believe we need to keep delaying actions. Kicking the can down the road isn't going to change a thing when it comes to this issue. Hem and haw all you want, if you drive intoxicated in Rancho Murieta, chances are you're going to be arrested, be it by security using their amber lights, or a vigilant concerned resident / neighbor exercising their rights to make a "citizens arrest". CSD security has made many arrests prior to the introduction of this "new" policy. Think about it for a second, or two. There really is nothing left to discuss. Break the law and get caught, you're going to jail. Period. Two attorneys on the RMA board and they can't understand the importance of getting this done? Any questions? I'd be happy to answer them for you. 916-717-2381
Our board has researched this issue thoroughly and has consulted with our insurance carrier regarding legalities / liabilities. There's nothing left to do except contact the appropriate LE authorities for input / buy-in, then for the CSD board to vote yea, or nay. The RMA board can do whatever the heck they please, they don't call the shots at CSD, the elected board members do. What does the RMA board recommend? Ignore intoxicated drivers at the risk of the membership? Are they suggesting the risk to the community be overlooked? Do they not take this public safety risk / crime seriously?
When leadership is needed, the RMA board is nowhere to be found. If you can't lead, at least stay out of the way.
Steven Mobley - Director
Rancho Murieta Community Services District
Definition of a deadline:
the time by which something must be finished or submitted; the latest time for finishing something.
A line or limit that must not be passed.
(Except when dealing with The Rancho Murieta Associations Board of Directors)
I think this might be the answer to our national & state political problems. We can keep extending the voting deadlines indefinitely, that way they can't do any more harm.
Also, extend the due dates for our RMA dues.
C'mon people, grow a backbone and do the job you were elected to do. Represent ALL the residents of Rancho Murieta, not just the ones who support your personal positions.
Haven't you learned by now, a non vote is a NO vote.
Let's get on with it!
In response to Jim Moore's comments: "If I thought that this policy would stop people from driving drunk, I would vote for it in a second, or at least I would express my unconditional approval for it."
If this policy stops someone from taking that one drink that's going to push them over to the intoxicated level for fear of being pulled over, then we have accomplished what we set out to do.
This is a sticky situation because I am in favor of punishing those who drive drunk. In fact, I will be working a DUI Check Point tomorrow. Here is the concern I have with security activating their lights on suspected DUI’s. When a peace officer activates their lights and the suspect fails to stop he is now in violation of VC 2800.2, a felony. This typically results in a slew of officers responding code 3. (A deterrent for most drivers). When security activates their lights and the DUI suspect speeds away, he could be looking at a $100.00 fine. Not so much of a deterrent. In fact, this may even have an opposite effect. I believe this policy change would allow security to get some of the less aggressive DUI type drivers to pull over by activating their lights: however, based on my experience, this situation will cause the more aggressive DUI suspects to drive faster. Our Community should be made aware that approximately $16,000 people each year in DUI related crashes and because a suspect’s body is destroying valuable evidence of DUI, in some cases, peace officer can arrest the DUI suspect in their home.
Security should follow and contact the driver if possible, but not while he is driving a 4,000 lbs weapon. I am all for security making arrests and believe they can and should make more arrests in Rancho Murieta. That being said, I am concerned that a DUI suspect driving faster to avoid security may be more detrimental than helpful. If a suspect is on foot, I am all for security activating lights, waving their arms, running after the suspect, etc.
If it is later determined that activating lights will save lives, I am all for it; however, I would like to see some validated research before security attempts to make vehilce stops.
After nearly being run down by two different golf carts tonight on their way to summerfest, I know why we don't want DUI enforcement in the neighborhood. BOTH of the carts were over loaded (6+ people) and BOTH of them had adults behind the wheel with alcohol in their hands (open beer bottles they were drinking from). We don’t want to be told what to do even if it for our own good. We have gotten waaaaaaaaaaay too comfortable behind these gates doing whatever pleases us whenever we want to do it with NO regard for anyone else. We don’t want people telling our kids no when they destroy property, we don’t want them telling us no when we drink and drive, we just don’t like NO. Not liking no does not work anywhere else why should it work here???? And it does not work just outside the gates, allowing our own little lawless society behind the gates is counterproductive!
Thank you Jen, perfect...well said.
Bill, while I agree that some drivers (well yes probably most) will ignore Security's yellow light, I disagree with your other statement. Security will not be in pursuit of those who will not pull over. They will not be driving more than the 25 mph that they have been instructed to drive. So if someone rabbits they will soon see that no one is chasing them. But I do believe the fine should be more than $100 if they do not pull over. If they have done nothing wrong, they can pull over and prove it and there will be nothing further. But if they do not pull over, heck fine them $250.
I have received a warning from our security for going 33 mph in RM and they were doing ~45 to get my license plate at 430 am. Wheather security chases or not, the lights will cause the reaction to run. Please understand this is public property, there are no real speed limits. The speed limit is set by RMA and it is a fine. I believe the fine is currently nothing for the first offense as I received a warning. RMA does not currently require residence to stop when light are activated. I hope you can understand why it is important to have RMA's backing and local law enforcement before we start turing on the lights. I am all for getting DUI's because I want to see our roads safe, as I stated before, I just want to make sure that if the lights go on, aggressive drivers will not rabitt. I may be jaded as I supervise the worst of the worst DUI offenders in Sacramento since 2006. None of the people on my caseloads have drivers license, yet I continue to arrest them for for driving. None are allowed to drink alcohol, yet I arrest many for drinking. As I stated before, I am concerned about the aggressive DUI driver. The one who is already driving above the speed limit, failing to come to complete stops. Based on many of the reports I have read, I can not believe this type of DUI driver will volunterily pull over for a security officer and that may cause more harm than good. That being said, if their is validated research that shows this would be safer than the alternative, than we should allow security to use their lights. If their is not currently any research regarding security using lights to make DUI stops, I just think we should precede with caution. I hope this make sense, as it is getting late.
Ladies and gentlemen,
You all do of course realize that our security has no REAL authority to do much of anything, right? You don't have to stop for them and can in fact tell them they are not welcome on your property if you choose to do so. Why the current witch hunt for in the gates DUI? I could be wrong but it does not seem to be as BIG a problem as being made out to be. We all know the now famous quote of Linda Garcia, "The Country Club is just a bunch of drunks". Seems a few of you feel RM is a community full of drunks. Perhaps you should be very careful having that second glass of wine at your friends house with dinner!! You may want to walk.
How long before the result of the community center vote will be announced? Or are we now extending the days for the count?