The Joint Security Committee has been reconstituted to deal with changes in the status of Security patrol officers, but the committee's first meeting suggests residents are in for some changes as well.
Rancho Murieta Association Directors Dick Cox and Chris Pedersen said new RMA rules are being developed for the Community Services District Security Department to use for enforcement in the gated community. The fines will be stiff, Cox said.
"We have the authority to establish non-architectural rules," Cox said at Monday's meeting. "We have established curfew. We can do things like vandalism, speeding, stop signs. Just about anything you can think we can make a non-arch rule of and the board can approve it. ... One of the things that we're endeavoring to do is to come up with non-arch rules that can hit the pocketbook of the parents of some of the sweethearts we got running around loose in Rancho Murieta vandalizing things."
According to CSD legal counsel, Security cannot enforce district ordinances that require police authority, but Security officers can enforce homeowner association rules. This point was made at a meeting conducted by CSD legal counsel in May.
Chris Pedersen, the chair of the new Joint Security Committee, sits with Security Chief Greg Remson.
Cox said it's important to get out the word that off-duty sheriff's deputies the CSD hires to supplement Security patrols have full law-enforcement authority, even if security officers don't. "We need to really start publicizing that because the teenagers do not know or understand that and they think our Security ... is just a joke."
The use of off-duty sheriff's deputies for patrol will be increased by about 50 percent in 2008-2009, according to information for the budget the CSD board approved last month.
RMA Compliance and CSD Security enforce RMA rules by issuing citations that result in fines. CSD Security currently enforces RMA traffic rules on the private streets and other RMA rules as part of its responsibility for safety in the community.
In addition to the CSD and RMA, representatives from Murieta Village, Rancho Murieta Country Club and the Plaza business community attended the first committee meeting, at the CSD Building, to talk about security issues.
"As far as the Plaza, we have some concerns about the kids there," said resident Cathleen Gipe, who works at the Plaza. She said children are dropped off by their parents to attend youth groups conducted by the Rancho Murieta Community Church. "Kids go up one door and they go out the other. ... What they're trying to do is get the kids off the street and get them engaged, and I applaud them for that. ... They just need more leadership within their youth group."
Cox cited another lapse in adult oversight at the Fourth of July parade where kids riding in trucks threw water balloons and squirted water at spectators. "Sometimes you wonder about the people who are sponsoring and leading some of our young people. ... Nobody was controlling the kids in the back of those vehicles," he remarked.
Gipe said skateboarders pose a nuisance and a safety issue in the Plaza that Security seems unable to do anything about. Security Chief Greg Remson responded, "We're in a little bit of a transition ... We're trying to work with Kim from the DA's office to figure out something we can do with skateboarders, but we can certainly make contact with them, we can certainly advise them of the rules, and, if we find out who they are, we can certainly contact their parents."
Deputy District Attorney Kim Zdobnikow was at the Joint Security meeting. She also attended the CSD Security Committee meeting last week.
Cox also expressed his concern about kids congregating in the back area and the fire danger posed by campfires.
The group agreed that activities for teenagers aren't readily available here. "It seems as though everything going on in our community related to teens is kind of disjointed," RMA General Manager David Stiffler commented.
Country Club Vice President Dennis Martel suggested holding meetings to inform parents about the fines they'll face if their children violate rules the RMA intends to implement. "If you train the parents, you might be able to get the kids to follow," he commented.
"The fines are going to be substantial," Cox said. "They may be $500 to $1,000."
"One thing I don't want to see this committee get totally focused on is kids because we got a lot of adults out there that don't follow the rules either," Stiffler said.
CSD President Wayne Kuntz said some adults seem to feel they're immune to traffic laws, including driving under the influence of alcohol, if they're inside the gates, and pointed out DUI arrests are made in the community.
Security Patrol officers, who can make citizen's arrests, made a DUI arrest on the South in June, according to Remson's monthly security report.
Cox cited a spate of car burglaries that occurred in recent months, vandalism incidents, speeding and stop sign violations as among his concerns.
"How can anyone possibly expect CSD Security to be everywhere all the time?" said Stiffler. "... I just don't see all of this being something that should be the responsibility of CSD." He added that the community should be "self-policing. We could solve a lot of our problems."
When Stiffler suggested revisiting the idea of establishing a Neighborhood Watch program, Zdobnikow offered to put the group in touch with a Sheriff's Department staffer to set up the program. But she warned, "They're only as good as the level of participation you're going to get."
Several committee members said controversy over signage doomed a 2003 attempt to establish Neighborhood Watch here. At that time, the RMA Architectural Review Committee rejected street signs after being told as many as 40 might be posted in the community, but approved the orange and black window stickers.
After asking the question rhetorically at several RMA board meetings, Cox inquired about financing for the CSD Security operation. "In the past 10 years, it's my understanding that the security staff has not increased in size. However the population of our community has almost doubled, which to me means that the amount of money you take in from the community for security has doubled, but yet the number of people involved in security has not increased," he said. "My question is what's happened to the money?"
CSD General Manager Ed Crouse replied, "The existing residents only pay 60 percent of the security bill. The remaining portion is spread among commercial users and the undeveloped property. And, as the undeveloped properties are developed, that money is rolled into fees for new units. ... An undeveloped lot is charged 15 bucks a month roughly, and when you put a house on it, it goes to $21. ... That's only an increase of $6 a month there." Undeveloped property is charged $23 an acre monthly, Crouse said, which "goes maybe to $60 per equivalent acre (when developed) ... The other 40 percent stays flat. ... In short, though, we are strapped for money ... we are at the top of our security special tax. One of the ways to augment staff is to hire off-duty sheriffs. It's cheaper than hiring fulltime."
The Joint Security Committee will continue to meet on the first Monday of the month at 10 a.m., with the exception of September, when it meets on the second Monday because of Labor Day. Meetings will be held at the CSD Building through September.
Committee members selected Pedersen, the chair of the RMA Compliance Committee, to head the Joint Security Committee.