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RMA crowd

A crowd at Tuesday's RMA meeting was there to talk about unsafe drivers and pickleball. (Click photo for larger image.)

→ See a video of the meeting (2:05)

The Rancho Murieta Association board’s meeting Tuesday night got a large turnout for two issues – vehicles that speed and run stop signs and the need for more pickleball courts. The board also heard from a Sacramento County official about new laws that encourage the development of secondary homes on single-home lots.

Residents express worry about speeders

Several dozen people were on hand to talk about the dangers of speeding cars and stop-sign runners in the community. Pera Drive was heavily represented in the group, but residents of Domingo Court and Puerto Drive were among the half-dozen speakers too. Several asked for “traffic-calming devices,” like speed bumps.

Dawn Klein, a resident for about a year, said she loves the community but feels “people treat a lot of the roads out here like freeways.” Stop signs, she said, are treated like suggestions. “We’ve been very lucky out here,” not having accidents, she said.

Matt Brennan, a former police officer, said the problem is that there’s no true traffic enforcement, and he called for the Sheriff’s Department to “blitz” the community with traffic enforcement. For first offenses, a friendly letter would suffice, he said.

Marya Abraham, an avid runner, said “Pera Speedway” has gotten worse in her eight years living here. Speeding traffic threatens kids, joggers and people with dogs, she said. Her biggest concern is the new park path that connects to Pera. Kids race down the path and get dumped onto Pera’s dangerous traffic, she said.

John Merchant, a current Community Services District director, applauded the effort to address a problem he has seen in 30-plus years living here. 

There needs to be an examination of the structure that supports Security, Merchant said, explaining, “You’re working with a finite amount of money and a finite amount of manpower.”

He said the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department won’t perform a traffic enforcement blitz. “You have to pay them as off-duty sheriffs to do it,” Merchant said. “We can do that. We can do anything you want.” But he added that a recent CSD survey on security found the community wanted better services but didn’t want to pay more.

“This is not a light-hearted problem that we have,” said Director Larry Shelton, who conducted the meeting, “and we are definitely going to address the issue.” Later in the session, Director Jim Crowder, who heads the Compliance Committee, said he had two pages of notes from the meeting, and he was looking forward to addressing the speeding and stop-sign problems.

The conversation came to a close when Director Stephanie Bianchi, who’s a nurse practitioner by profession, read a statement about the heartache she has seen in her job, dealing with children with injuries and children who don't survive an accident.

“We need to do everything in our power to keep our children safe,” she said with emotion. “The status quo is unacceptable.” She said she wants to see an action plan from RMA and CSD to address the issues.

‘Accessory dwelling units’ coming soon to RM?

A Sacramento County planning official explained changes in state law regarding accessory dwelling units – small, secondary living structures given names like “granny flats” – and changes that make it much easier for someone to build one. 

The state’s idea was to address California’s housing crisis, in particular in the Bay Area and L.A., said Jessica Brandt, senior planner for the county.

State law now requires all jurisdictions in California to adopt measures permitting secondary structures on all single-family lots. The state law allows CC&Rs to impose some design reviews on these units, which can be the conversion of an existing structure or a whole new secondary building, but not to ban them completely, Brandt said.

“It’s kind of a whole new world with these,” she said. (You can download a Sacramento County fact sheet on accessory dwelling units.)

RMA General Manager Greg Vorster said the association’s CC&Rs allow accessory dwelling units but don’t allow them to be rented. 

As it stands, Brandt said, the state law says a community can ban the renting of these dwelling units, but she warned there are other possible outcomes in the legislative pipeline.

Dealing with a question about the community’s standards versus the state’s, Brandt said, “I would look at it like a layer cake. So, these are our zoning standards (as one layer); you also have building code standards (as a second layer), and you also have HOA standards (as a third layer).  Someone building in Rancho Murieta would need to check the boxes for all of your standards.”

This means the community could impose stricter architectural standards if it chose, she said. “They would have to address those,” she said of an applicant, “because they’ve signed all the paperwork to abide by your CC&Rs.”

On the other hand, she said, the new law restricts local governments from doing “any sort of review of a conversion ... other than building permits.” in the case of an existing outbuilding, such as a detached garage, that’s turned into living space without exterior changes. “So, in that case, the layer cake, a couple of layers have gotten removed,” she said – no zoning approval or HOA approval would be required. “The state said that’s a total ‘go.’”

Being forced to allow homeowners to turn a garage into living space doesn’t require an HOA to strike down any of its prohibitions against street or driveway parking, she said.

“There’s the potential that everywhere in the state could effectively double-density, if everyone put a second unit on their property,” Brandt warned. “And there’s not a whole lot of discussion of impacts to infrastructure. So, that’s an ongoing concern of local infrastructure providers.”

Although the law allows trailers as secondary units, Brandt said a community’s CC&Rs can still limit the secondary structures to wooden ones only.

John Merchant, a longtime community resident who serves on the Cosumnes Community Planning Advisory Council (as well as the Community Services District board), said the CCPAC had already “beat this to death for six months.”

He said North development plans presently before the county already call for construction of “casitas” as part of the plan. “Casitas are the fancy word for accessory dwellings,” Merchant said. 

He said none of the development forecasts for Rancho Murieta includes the impact of such changes on water, parking or traffic. “It’s an extremely critical thing that we know what the impact is,” he said, though it’s impossible to know how many properties would sprout a second unit.

Brandt said legislative advocacy groups are “fighting tooth and nail to try to keep as much local control as we can, but it seems like the floodgates are opening.” Answering Merchant, she said accessory dwelling units currently require connection fees and impact fees, which aren’t cheap, so she guessed assuming 10 percent of lots might have them is a good target. On the other hand, she said legislation could eliminate these impact fees, being levied by school districts, water providers and the like.

In response to a question, Vorster said the CC&Rs already restrict the possibility of renting out a Rancho Murieta property on Airbnb. Short-term rentals of 30 days or less aren’t permitted, he said.

“If someone wanted to build one (of these structures) and have their mother-in-law come and live with them, they could it for that purpose,” Vorster said, “but they could not use it as a rental unit, to produce income.”

Complaints about parental care and fishing issues

Neighbor Robin Albee-Kesich reported on her experience with a father whose infant daughter was left unattended outside the Murieta Plaza supermarket on a hot day. Albee-Kesich said the baby was inside a cart with empty gasoline cans strapped to the vehicle. She waited for the father and confronted him about this and was told to mind her own business.

She said she called Security in the midst of the situation, reported what was happening, and asked them to hurry to respond. Security didn’t appear, she said, and didn’t even follow up with a phone call.

“I was shocked at the lack of response,” she said. The RMA board encouraged her to call the Community Services District, which oversees Security.

Jay Solomon complained about speeding and stop-sign running, kids driving golf carts and cars ripping around the lakes. He said he doesn’t see Security ever patrolling out there.

He and another member of the Fishing Club complained about non-residents fishing on the lakes. He said these people are claiming they’re here to play golf but they head straight for the lakes. Solomon said the club should notify Security about non-members who are coming in to play golf.

Pickleball players request more courts

Saying pickleball now has 41 regular players, neighbor Tom Burkart asked the board to give over the other half of the basketball court at Stonehouse Park to two more pickleball courts, making a total of four there. As many as 30 people come out to play on Saturday mornings, he said. He was one of several speakers to ask for expanded pickleball courts and to complain about non-pickleball uses of the courts. Director Stephanie Bianchi pushed back against the idea that the courts are off-limits for uses other than pickleball. Director Larry Shelton, conducting the meeting, instructed RMA staff to put the possibility on the board’s 2019 project planning list.

$12,000 approved for disc golf course

The board unanimously approved $12,000 to design, build and equip an 18-hole disc golf course at the Greens Park. After walking two proposed courses – one on the North, one at the Greens Park – Vorster said RMA directors felt the Greens Park site was the most promising, so for now that will be the only course built. Players use Frisbee-like discs to play golf on these courses.

In other business...

  • The modular restrooms at Lake Clementia have been delayed until mid-August by the manufacturer, General Manager Greg Vorster reported. He also said the sidewalk looping through the Greens Park is complete, and work installing post and cable fencing at Stonehouse Park is about half done. 
  • The board indicated its desire to resume holding Joint Security Committee meetings with Security, the Village, the Country Club, the Villas and commercial operations south of Jackson Road. General Manager Greg Vorster said he would approach the other organizations to see if there’s interest.
  • Neighbor Carl Gaither complained about the wood chips that have been spread on the new South dog park at Riverside Park. They’re rough wood and dangerous to dogs, he said. General Manager Greg Vorster said the wood chips are temporary because the RMA doesn’t want to try to plant grass in the summertime. By September, Vorster said he expects an irrigation system to be in the ground and grass planted at the dog park.
  • The board’s president, Alex Bauer, was elected chair of the Nominating Committee, which develops candidates for this fall’s RMA elections. Bauer and Director Rob Brown weren’t present for Tuesday’s meeting.
  • Upcoming events: On Aug. 4, there will be a self-defense class at the RMA Building. On Aug. 16, there will be a free bus trip to Redhawk Casino. On Aug. 31 there will be a bus trip to a San Francisco Giants game. For information, call the RMA at (916) 354-3500.

Bobbi Belton's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 275
Post rating: 442

RMA meeting

Regardless of your opinions on the issues raised, we all need to thank those residents for standing up and sharing their opinions in an effort to effect change in our community. Keep it up, folks!

Bobbi Belton

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