CHP support helps address Rancho Santa Fe issues

At its Dec. 15 meeting, the Rancho Santa Fe Association board extended its $160,000 two-year agreement with the California Highway Patrol to provide supplemental support in the Covenant.

Since 2004, the Association has contracted with the CHP for supplemental overtime hours, in addition to the CHP’s regular enforcement. CHP officers work approximately two overtime shifts a week or about 100 shifts a year, helping with parking and moving violations. Rancho Santa Fe Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser said that the officers’ presence has led to a steady decline in the number and severity of car accidents over the last three years.

During supplemental shifts in 2017, CHP officers issued 215 verbal warnings, 233 moving violations and 50 parking violations.

This year officers have worked about 70 shifts and CHP Officer Chris Parent said some shifts had to drop due to weather concerns, officers being drawn to emergencies like the recent wildfire in Bonsall or simply due to an officer shortage.

“The CHP is 500 officers short statewide and that affects our area,” Parent said. “Getting an officer to fill an overtime shift is challenging.”

Parent said that the CHP used to have four officers patrolling the Interstate 5 corridor from Oceanside but they are now down to just two.

Input from the community and RSF Patrol informs where the CHP focuses its enforcement efforts in Rancho Santa Fe.

“If we get a complaint, I immediately get a hold of the CHP and within a day they have somebody out looking at that problem,” Wellhouser said.

Complaints usually revolve around speeding problems on Ranch roads, safety concerns around the proliferation of cyclists and, lately, there have been concerns about the Saturday morning vintage car gathering, Rancho Santa Fe Cars and Coffee.

“Some of those cars are being tested on our roads at relatively high speeds,” said board member Steve Dunn. “The Saturday morning situation seems to be recently exacerbated.”

Wellhouser said that there have been numerous complaints about the club, for speeding and blocking village streets. He said that the club was kicked out of Carlsbad for similar offenses and their response to RSF Patrol “was not a polite response.” As a result, an overtime CHP officer will make their presence known on Saturday mornings.

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