CHP focusing on speeding, cyclist safety in Rancho Santa Fe

A CHP officer leads the way in this year's Fourth of July parade.
(John Clark)

The Rancho Santa Fe Association renewed its contract for extra support from the California Highway Patrol at its Sept. 5 meeting.

The Association has contracted with the CHP for supplemental overtime hours since 2004, 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—seeing a CHP officer on the road is often a deterrent to pressing down on the gas pedal.

Historically, the two-year agreement has been $160,000 but the Rancho Santa Fe Patrol is budgeting for $182,000 due to an increase in the CHP’s hourly rates.

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

At the meeting, RSF Association Vice President Mike Gallagher requested some extra attention on two issues he has noticed in the community: speeding up and down La Granada every Saturday morning between 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and sports cars racing around the reservoir after midnight, sometimes at late as 1-3 a.m., “It’s very dangerous…the Lamborghinis and Maseratis speeding around the reservoir can be heard a mile away,” Gallagher said.

Director Steve Dunn also commented on the Saturday speeding trend as he has noticed participants in the local car clubs that collect in the village seem to travel to the meet-up as fast as they can.

Wellhouser said they have heard complaints about both of those areas and CHP officers can be assigned to monitor them. In addition to La Granada, Wellhouser said he has also heard complaints about speeding on other streets such as Via De La Valle, Paseo Delicias and La Gracia.

Another common complaint is also the proliferation of cyclists on Rancho Santa Fe’s narrow and windy streets where there is very little room for cyclists and vehicles to co-exist. Wellhouser said the CHP has been citing cyclists for not following the rules, such as riding two-to-three abreast on the side of the road or rolling through stop signs.

CHP Officer Kevin Smale estimates they give about 20 to 30 citations a weekend.

“We’ve created quite a stir in the bicyclist community. We have done a lot of work,” Smale said.

Wellhouser said they are trying their best to control the situation to some degree, although it is tough to do: “We definitely have their attention,” he said.