Candidates discuss Community Patrol services

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The five-member Canyon Lake POA Board of Directors are collectively responsible for the management and operation of the POA’s business affairs. The board members are elected for staggered two-year terms.

Three of the five seats are up for election in May when the terms of Mike Harris, Phil Hawgood and Tom Nathan end. The three directors are eligible to run for another term.

The five candidates vying for a seat on the board are Jeanne O’Dell, Tom Nathan, Chris Poland, Phil Hawgood and Mike Harris.

In the weeks leading up to the election, The Friday Flyer is featuring a series of questions to the candidates. During this period, residents will have a chance to hear directly from the candidates and learn what they hope to accomplish if elected to serve on the board.

Last week, The Friday Flyer asked the candidates their views on dredging the lake.

In this sixth installment of questions, The Friday Flyer invited the candidates to answer the following question in 300 or fewer words. The candidates are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot.

Question:

Community Patrol is the single largest POA amenity expense, over $2 million per year. Community Patrol staffs the three gates to the community, provides enforcement of POA Rules and Regulations and assists with crowd control at community events. Do you believe Community Patrol is providing adequate services? What do you think can be done to improve services?

Jeanne O’Dell

Jeanne O’Dell. Photo by Donna Ritchie

I don’t think there is anyone in this community who is completely satisfied with the services provided by Community Patrol.

According to the 2019-2020 Annual Budget document, the subsidy for Community Patrol services is 19 percent of our total annual subsidy, the second highest item. I feel that this amount merits the services of an in-house management position to oversee and monitor Community Patrol activities and provide contractual oversight of the existing company as their sole responsibility.

Our current staff in Membership Services has multiple areas of responsibility. We expect them to be able to handle the complex task of monitoring our Community Patrol services in addition to other duties. This is a recipe for continued shareholder dissatisfaction.

We need to look at what services Community Patrol is providing that can be provided by others. For example, patrol officers are expected to manage the gate, catch the speeders and stop sign runners and other traffic violations. They are also expected to respond to suspicious person calls and barking dogs, but also be able to patrol for expired decals, parking permits and other violations of our Rules and Regulations.

In order to place more vehicles on patrol, we need to free them up from gate entry duties and other non-patrol duties with the exception of high traffic times.

This means we need to continue to explore the technology that is available to assist with these duties.

If possible, we should purchase additional speed trailers and place them in strategic locations to assist with speed enforcement activities.

Another possibility is to review what could be accomplished within Planning and Compliance, perhaps shifting some the non-moving vehicle enforcement responsibilities to them. For example, Planning and Compliance staff could become responsible for monitoring expired decals, other parking violations, unlocking the facilities in the morning, compiling vandalism reports, etc.

Tom Nathan

Tom Nathan. Photo by Donna Ritchie

Community Patrol is tasked with three main services: gate access control, marine patrol and road patrol.

Gate Access Control is likely the service most members have regular interaction. RFID’s provide the ability for members to gain access to the community through automated gate arms.

Each gate has at least one RFID lane and both main and east gate lanes have had an additional RFID reader installed. Members not having an RFID on their vehicle require clearance by the gate attendant. Vehicle window decals are most common and require only a visual check when entering.

Those with printed vehicle passes or using POA identification cards for entry require additional verification. POA cards are checked to verify that they are current; printed vehicle passes are also checked to see if they remain active and also require a re-check of the driver’s license information to verify that names are matching.

During high traffic times, some of these processes are compromised in order to keep the flow of traffic moving at the gate (typically main gate). We need to improve our efficiency at the gates and minimize the time that clearance procedures are sacrificed in order to expedite traffic.

Marine patrol and road patrol have a common dilemma – few patrolling officers covering a large area. I believe the marine and road patrol officers typically do a good job. Routine patrols and checks of the community are part of their daily task. Responding to calls for service can sometimes be impacted based availability of the officers at the time of a call.

In order to gain better response times to calls for service, we may need to increase staffing of these areas. These officers have the authority to enforce Association rules, but beyond that their function is to “observe and report.”

Chris Poland

Chris Poland. Photo by Donna Ritchie

I don’t know if Community Patrol is providing adequate services. Of their three responsibilities cited (gates, rules and crowd control), only one appears to be going well. People complain often about uncontrolled entries into our community. It is well understood that they only enforce the rules when a property owner complains. They must be providing satisfactory crowd control since there have been no riots at our community events, though their effectiveness is greatly supported by the presence of Riverside County sheriffs.

Best I can tell, there are no metrics for determining if Community Patrol is providing adequate control of the gates. There are over 400,000 entries and exits each month and a handful of violations. We are one of the safest cities in California. There is no obvious evidence that links crimes committed within our walls with improper entries.

Before we spend more money on gate control we must understand if there is a problem. If there is, we should invest in technology, better-trained staff and oversight, and data gathering to pinpoint the problems and track the improvement.

The only rule breakers cited are those that are reported by their neighbors. Most rule violations go unreported. First and foremost, we need to review and decide which rules are appropriate. Then, we must contract for enough Community Patrol staff to cite all the violators and incorporate procedures to make the citations affect change. For example, we should tow improperly parked cars and “toys.”

We have learned that the presence of armed police officers is a deterrent to crime. It works for crowd control and we need to partner with the city to determine where to extend that presence.

It is time to review and refine our expectations of Community Patrol.

Phil Hawgood

Phil Hawgood. Photo by Donna Ritchie

Canyon Lake owners want and deserve better security than our current company is giving us! There are basic reasons for this. The pay level for people that we hire is the lowest level – minimum wage! People can get an easier job with the same low pay at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or any hardware store.

The problem is staff turnover, most of which is happening at the three gates. Years ago the developer’s vision was a retirement community. The three gates worked well years ago when we only had 40 to 50 percent development! Now, at 97 percent built-out, traffic is extremely challenging on busy days. The gates at the main and east bay are at maximum capacity. There is no current way to widen them for better flow!

The north gate has a possibility to gain one additional entrance – maybe! RFID can help but people are not getting them even though the current board has been offering them for free for at least 18 months!

The ePass allows all residents to email their guest a pass that can be printed to show gate attendants on smartphones with a driver’s license, so entry is faster.

Better visibility is coming! We have ordered side windows to be installed at the main gates.

Years ago, when I was 13, I was lucky to get a job at a restaurant as a busboy. I never missed a day. That was 57 years ago! Times are much different now. The work ethic that I learned was not lost with my three sons! Two are lawyers and one is a construction project engineer. One possible solution is we pay higher wages so the security employees will stay and be more loyal.

Mike Harris

Mike Harris. Photo by Donna Ritchie

This question is not easily answered with one simple solution. We need to start at the beginning when this area was developed as a vacation community. The developer never envisioned this to be a full-time residential community. The developer utilized every piece of property around the entrances to maximize profit. Without purchasing residential property ($200,000 limit on property purchase), we are not able to expand entrances to accommodate our traffic.

Over the past two years, we have initiated the free RFID for residents to obtain and the ePass. The ePass allows residents to email their guests a printable pass or show to the gate attendant on their smartphone with a driver’s license to quickly enter the community. We are about to install the missing windows in the attendant’s booth and lane marking LED signage to help direct traffic during busy times.

As I mentioned in both Meet the Candidates forums, the work ethic has changed dramatically since we “boomers” entered the workforce. We were taught to suit up, show up and give 110 percent. It has been suggested that we hire another full-time Community Patrol (security) manager. Would this person be responsible for teaching work ethics to a high turnover rate industry?

Right now, we have Community Patrol employees leaving for two reasons: for a better paying job and through discipline.

Since I have lived here, we have gone full circle with Allied Barton, Securitas, U.S. Securities and back to Allied Universal. All of these companies draw from the same gene pool.

Doing the same thing over and over does not produce different results. Unless this community is willing to pay more to hire individuals that are self-starters and continually looking for innovative ways to increase security with technology, we will always be chasing our tails.

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