Click for topic: Aftermath of cable vote ... Anti-drug effort ... Survey of development area ... Airing RMA meetings
[Full story published Feb. 20] The cable system and drug use by juveniles were the topics that drew the most comment at the 2½-hour Rancho Murieta Association board meeting Tuesday night.
Aftermath of cable vote
Cable critic John T. Weatherford took two turns at the microphone -- at the beginning and end of the meeting -- but failed to get board members to react in detail to the community's recent advisory vote on forced participation in the RMA-run cable system.
Weatherford called the vote a mandate for the board to do whatever is necessary to make participation voluntary. The vote was 806-224 for a voluntary system.
"It is time for action, not more talk," he said at the outset of the meeting, advising members of the public to pay attention to what board members had to say about the vote during the meeting.
He was followed to the microphone by John Merchant, a former president of the RMA and Community Services District.
Merchant said he was one of the first customers when RMA launched its broadband system, but he left because service was poor. He said he had a similar experience with RMA cable and now relies on a satellite dish.
He urged the board to stop spending on the cable system because the community is trying to force the board to change its approach.
"I think it would be prudent to avoid spending another 200 grand on this system until you resolve the outcome," he said. He also said, "It seems like we're in a race now to spend this money before we get this inevitable vote on what we're going to do with this system."
Later in the meeting, Director Mel Standart, chairman of the Communications Committee, reported that upgrades to the system had been completed and advertising for new tiers of digital programming will be sent out after the system is balanced and tested.
At the end of the meeting, when challenged by Weatherford to say something about the future of the cable system, Standart and board President Jack Cooper said plans are continuing that would allow the system to move to "Plan B" -- including sale, lease or operation by an outside vendor.
Anti-drug effort applauded
A handful of residents were applauded for comments urging the RMA to do more to address the problem of drug use by juveniles, concerns that were first aired at a community meeting last year and at subsequent RMA and Community Services District meetings.
"We have a problem. We have use and selling in our public parks," said neighbor Carrie Zenker, who said her home was burglarized last year by teens who sold the stolen items to raise money for drugs.
"They're using in our parks, they're selling in our parks and they're burglarizing our homes," she said. "I'm not sure what more has to happen before we say out loud we have a problem."
Director Mike Martel steered the conversation in the direction of the CSD, which handles Security. He pointed out that the Security force hasn't grown in 11 years even though the community has grown by 1,200 homes, increasing CSD revenues.
He said an RMA committee is probing Security's operations, looking into how it patrols and other things.
"We are asking questions about what the Security does, and what's their priority and that kind of stuff. ... We are asking those questions," Martel said. "I'm not quite sure you guys hear it."
Neighbor Joanne Macomber said the Gazebo is a focal point for the problem, asking if cameras could be installed, sprinklers turned on or lighting increased to keep users in check, or signage installed to make clear what's permissible and what's not.
Survey of development property
Director Mike Martel outlined the RMA's recent efforts to survey land that has possibly been annexed into the RMA, which could upset North development plans.
"We're going to take additional steps to clarify everybody's land use as it pertains to annexed or unannexed property," he said. "I think in the coming months you're going be hearing more from us as we develop a strategy. I'm pretty confident that this board has taken the right steps. I think this issue is going to be resolved and clarified in the very, very near future."
Added President Jack Cooper, "This could be a very significant event for the future of Rancho Murieta."
Proposal to stop airing RMA meetings
Director Bonita Jones proposed no longer recording board meetings for broadcast on Channel 5. She suggested conducting town hall meetings every two months to encourage resident participation and reduce costs. The town hall meetings should not be videotaped for broadcast either, she said.
"There would be more participation from the community," she explained. "The apathy that sets in because of this being televised, I have watched now for two years."
She volunteered to run the town hall meetings until another volunteer steps forward.
Director Mel Standart offered an objection: "The impact would be to cut down on our communications with the community rather than what we're trying to, which is improving it."
The board will discuss the proposal next month.
Lower quorum for elections
The board approved moving ahead with an election to change the bylaws to lower the quorum required for the election of directors.
Increased fines for extreme speeding
Three non-architectural rules proposed by the Compliance Committee were approved by the board to go on to the Governing Documents Committee.
One rule would require individuals who are violating RMA rules or CSD ordinances to cease the violation at the request of Security officers and provide their name and address or identify the resident they are visiting if they are a guest. Failure to do so, by a member or a guest, would result in a fine against the member.
Another rule would double the fine for going double the 25 mph speed limit or faster. This would expand the rule that's already in place for this violation that eliminates the warning and goes directly to a fine.
Another proposed rule would increase fines for households that have three or more speeding violations within a year.
Liens to be filed
The board approved filing liens against two properties for delinquent dues.
Cooper responds to critics
Speaking for almost 15 minutes, President Jack Cooper responded to comments posted on RanchoMurieta.com's forum. The comments disputed his remarks about CSD patrol officers, claimed he had lied about the pedestrian bridge, and asked why he invited a technology company to make a presentation to the community.
"Sometimes Rancho Murieta is like a target range," Cooper said. "And we have marksmen and we have snipers. We have marksmen who take careful aim at targets to advance the welfare and benefits of Rancho Murieta. I consider myself a marksman. And then we have snipers who shoot at people....
"It's really easy to sit back and second-guess. It's very easy to sit back and call people names and make insinuations, call people liars."
As for the critical comments, Cooper responded that Security Chief Greg Remson has informed him CSD patrol officers do not have peace officer status; a county permit was required to open the pedestrian bridge, although it was inaccurately identified as an occupancy permit; and the technology company that was supposed to make a presentation to the community does operate cable systems. The presentation has been canceled.