By Lori Donchak
Feeling safe, day or night, is the basic requirement of a strong community. And all of us have a role to play. Urban planner Jane Jacobs coined the term “eyes on the street” as a key quality of a successful community. Her idea was that if we self-police and bear witness to activity around us, good community values will prevail.
In 2016, San Clemente City Council hired Matrix Consulting Group to analyze city public safety needs. While San Clemente is deemed one of the safest communities in the state, the study proposed more than 50 recommendations that, in the spirit of continuous improvement, will further strengthen our public safety track record. Action items range from police staffing changes and better police presence on weekends and evenings, to faster case closure on criminal investigations. You can access the study on the city website by clicking here.
A key conclusion from Matrix is that we need to do a better job engaging the community in public safety. Recently, the city increased efforts to reach out and collaborate with residents about their concerns. For example, issues at the Ocean View Plaza were reported by citizens that caused Lt. Dave Moodie to form the public safety effort TRIP, which stands for Targeting Reduction Investigation Prevention. At Ocean View Plaza, the TRIP team has employed tactics to deal with issues such as public intoxication and other disturbances that affect the customer experience in the shopping center. Matrix recognizes the high value of TRIP and encourages deeper community communication to optimize TRIP as a tool to prevent crime. TRIP is also recommended for strategic summer use when our population surges.
Community-based crime prevention plays an essential role in high-quality-of-life cities like San Clemente and assumes many forms. Matrix highlighted the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) as a unique asset and key San Clemente strength. Founded in 1985, it is the second longest tenured program of its kind in the nation. Currently, we have 34 RSVPs who perform vacation house checks, “You Are Not Alone” checks, parking patrol, special event traffic control and other community crime-prevention activities. They provide an invaluable service and are a perfect illustration of eyes on the street. If you are interested in joining RSVP, click here or call 949.361.8269.
Crime prevention is everyone’s business. As residents, we can take steps to reduce/remove the opportunity for crime and make our community safer. Here are a few:
- Use automatic timers at home to come on at various times of the day.
- Have adequate, low-level lighting blanketing the perimeter of your home at night, especially using motion lights.
- Ask a neighbor to watch your home while you are away and pick up fliers or newspapers.
- Have mail stopped until your return.
- Have a well-managed landscape.
- When out for the evening, leave lights on to give the appearance that someone is home.
- Lock doors and be sure windows are shut/locked, even when you leave home for just a few minutes.
- Always lock the car and conceal valuables.
The city is moving quickly to take steps to make San Clemente safer. Local problems that are the result of state government actions and elections, such as Assembly Bill 109 as well as Props 47 and 57, are game-changers and feed into the action items Matrix challenges us to address. Soon, in addition to a strategic master plan for community safety, you can expect better communication in the form of regular town hall meetings and other progress reports.
Finally, stay tuned for the formation of a public safety task force, also recommended in the Matrix study. City Council will be deliberating on this in April.
As your elected representative, I value your concerns and suggestions. Let me hear from you at email@example.com
Lori Donchak was re-elected to City Council in 2014 and is a city member of the Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors, as well as the city’s liaison to San Clemente’s Orange County Library.