At its meeting last week, the Community Services District Security Committee recommended developing a long-range plan for the use of surveillance cameras in the community, learned the CHP response to a recent car crash inside the gates may indicate a new level of enforcement, and reviewed a CSD director's efforts to restore vehicle access to the river.
The CSD Security Committee meets monthly at the CSD Administration Building. The committee consists of Directors Mike Martel, Bobbi Belton and CSD staff. The meetings are open to the public. The agenda and meeting materials are available at the CSD website, rmcsd.com.
At Thursday's session, Security Chief Greg Remson provided an update on a non-injury accident that occurred Feb. 2 on Camino Del Lago when a 16-year-old driver ran off the road into a tree.
"We had CHP come out. They checked him for DUI," Remson said. "No DUI, but CHP did cite the juvenile for being an unlicensed driver and did cite his mother for allowing him to drive. Historically, CHP has looked at the streets inside the gates as private streets ... and therefore the vehicle code, other than DUI, is not enforceable. But the sergeant that came out on the scene said he considers it open to the public enough where that will go. So we'll see what happens with that."
The Rancho Murieta Association has declined to have the California vehicle code in effect on its private roads, which would allow enforcement that goes beyond homeowner association rules. In 2008, a proposal to add vehicle code enforcement came before the RMA board. The motion failed for lack of a second.
The following incidents occurred in January:
Vandalism at the North Gazebo playground. Remson said a golf cart driven on the playground damaged a slide, which will be expensive to repair, according to RMA. A surveillance camera at the park provided little information about the incident, he said.
Theft from the mini-storage on Cantova Way. "There was no forced entry," Remson said. "We're pretty certain it was somebody that has a code to get into the facility. ... We've got some ideas that we're looking at." Remson said he "spoke with (management) again about just putting a stand-alone camera system in there" and using key pads that track access to improve security at the facility. According to the Jan. 27 security logs entry, a utility trailer, boat, and two ATVs were reported stolen between Jan. 25 and 27, and the victim filed a report with the CHP.
Using cameras to fight crime
Expanding camera surveillance in the community was discussed at the Joint Security Committee meeting and again at the CSD goals workshop last month.
At the CSD Security Committee, Remson said the scope of service needs to be considered. "My feeling is the most important places right now are the parks," he said.
Martel disagreed. "Most of the time your parks are your least area where they have trouble," he said. "Most of the robberies and burglaries and vandalism occurs in the residential sections. ... They're stealing the prescription or the cell phones or that kind of stuff there. ... Unless you increase patrol, you have to use technology to help you out."
Martel suggested rotating cameras "so if you think these kids in these areas are your bad kids, you can put a camera and you can watch them leave the house at 11 at night and you can do a live feed or an old feed and that would allow the patrol department to maybe drive in that area and prevent the stuff."
Martel, a career correctional official, offered a prison tour so the committee could view a basic system that provides "physical evidence" of an incident after it occurs as well as live monitoring.
Remson noted that different entities in the community have plans for surveillance cameras.
John Sullivan, a resident and developer who was at the meeting as a member of the public, said the Murieta Equestrian Center is now testing cameras with live access and the ability to record "many, many weeks of information" for download. He said the cameras are able to differentiate among human and animal shapes, and the software can send warning messages.
"We have that at the water treatment plant," Remson said.
General Manager Ed Crouse said the committee's next step would be to recommend to the CSD board the development of a long-range plan for the use of surveillance cameras in the community. At the board's direction, the committee could then begin the process.
Effort to regain river access for vehicles
At the Joint Security Committee meeting last month, CSD representative Martel proposed forming a group to meet with representatives of the Pension Trust Fund for Operating Engineers about the installation of locked gates to keep vehicles out of its property in the back area. Access for cyclists, hikers and horseback riders is allowed.
A group met with PTF representatives a week later and came up with a course of action that Martel told the CSD board about afterward.
Joint Security is an advisory committee made up of representatives from community entities that include the CSD, RMA, Murieta Village, Murieta Plaza, and the Country Club. "Any actions on behalf of the CSD that result from the Joint Security (committee) need to be vetted with the board first," General Manager Ed Crouse said at the Security Committee meeting.
"I volunteered my services as part of the Joint Security to reach out and see if there was something we could bring back to our respective boards to solve the problem," said Martel, a former two-term RMA director who was elected to the CSD board in November. "Maybe the wrong thing was to bring the committee involved. Maybe there's no use for the Joint Security. Just people meeting with people and having some discussions as an individual. But that committee has no authority whatsoever ..."
"You're an elected official," Crouse said. "It's difficult to take your hat off as an elected official and be viewed as a resident ... conducting business with other entities."
"Let's get a legal opinion...," Martel responded.
"When you said ... 'they're going to give us the key so Greg could open it and lock it,' then you are speaking for the board," Belton said.
"No, I said that's the proposal coming back," Martel said. "...I'm trying to figure out what crime was reported where all of a sudden the property owners locked the gates and prevented the access..."
Belton answered that there was a misdemeanor incident at the neighboring Van Vleck property and Martel established that the property is outside the district.
Sullivan joined the discussion at this point, saying, "It should be a huge concern because (Van Vleck) has granted an easement for the water tank to be there in perpetuity, and it's on his property. So he's a very important neighbor when it comes to protecting facilities as well as property."
The concern about fire and other activities on the PTF property is longstanding. At a Joint Security meeting in 2008, the RMA general manager said he had contacted PTF representatives about concerns that had been expressed about the fire risk and found the PTF was "very, very interested and concerned about what is going on out in that back area. ... They've got a liability issue out there." He said officials from the CSD and RMA were looking at approaches to the problem that could be shared with the PTF.
At the next CSD Security Committee meeting in 2008, Remson said the group was looking at using gates, boulders, ditches and signage to discourage access to wooded and grassy areas around the back lakes and the river. "Keeping the cars out of there is what we really want to do," Remson said of the group's goals.