By Karen Billing
Rancho Santa Fe’s overtime contract with the California Highway Patrol and a new focus on parking enforcement has tripled the number of parking violations issued in one year.
Rancho Santa Fe Association Associate Planner Chris Livoni reported at the March 7 board meeting that parking violations went from 40 in 2011 to 125 in 2012.
“This is directly related to the increased enforcement of parking in the village areas which began in February,” Livoni said.
“We really targeted that area not only with overtime officers but regular beat officers as well and that combination has really freed up parking in the village,” RSF Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser said. “There’s been a lot of positive feedback.”
Wellhouser and RSF Association Director Eamon Callahan noted that a year ago the feedback was not as positive from village merchants, but both said that attitudes are changing and they’re seeing the benefits of increased turnover in village parking—it helps retail and restaurants for potential customers to not have to circle and circle the block hunting for a parking space.
In addition to cracking down on parking offenders, Livoni said the overtime CHP program was a valuable resource in controlling traffic in the Covenant.
“We continue to achieve measurable results and seem to be accomplishing the goals of addressing speed and safety on Covenant roadways,” Livoni said of the program that has been in place since 2004.
The CHP worked 113 overtime shifts in 2012; the shifts are generally eight hours although occasionally they will work four-hour shifts.
During that time, officers issued 700 moving violations; the peak came in June with 103.
“Moving violations were slightly up but generally the number has trended downward since 2006,” Livoni said.
In 2012, 28 percent of moving violations were for speeding, down from 35 percent in 2011.
The officers also issued 200 verbal warnings — Livoni said even when a ticket is not issued, seeing a vehicle pulled over by the CHP serves as a deterrent to other drivers.
“The presence of the CHP really affects driving habits as a whole,” Livoni said.
Wellhouser often coordinates with the CHP when there are specific areas they would like to target.
“From our standpoint it’s really been a fantastic program. We’re seeing a decline not only in crashes but in the severity of crashes,” Wellhouser said.
He said they still have issues with speeding in certain hot spots and there is also the always tricky issue of cyclists.
Wellhouser said they have asked CHP to address cyclists, and riders are being pulled over and ticketed when they don’t obey the rules of the road. The CHP’s public information officers have been meeting with local bike clubs to remind them of the rules.