By Mayor Pro Tem Tim Brown
To this City Council and the city of San Clemente, there are no issues of greater importance than that of public safety. To enjoy the beauty and friendship of our community, it is absolutely critical that we as residents feel safe and secure, and that we take strong steps toward addressing any shortfalls in this area. For this, we rely heavily on resident feedback to understand where we should be focused.
Over the past few years, we have received more and more residents’ complaints about group homes and vacation rentals in residential areas. In response, the city conducted meetings with residents, held a public safety workshop and eventually made modifications to our ordinances to restrict this use to areas more fitting. A sober living forum was also held in San Clemente with Congressman Darrell Issa, California Assemblyman Bill Brough, State Senator Pat Bates, myself and other experts, who discussed proposed federal legislation that could help. The panel also discussed other solutions that could be pursued statewide and locally. In following up, the city has sent support letters for the federal legislation, increased police patrols in targeted areas, enhanced code compliance staff hours and other measures to help alleviate issues that our residents said were affecting their quality of life and peace of mind.
We also heard frequently from residents about homelessness, soliciting and trespassing. In response, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) in San Clemente created a new special enforcement team called “TRIP,” which stands for Targeting Reduction Investigation Prevention. This is an outgrowth of a strategy deployed last year to deal with the problems at Ocean View Plaza shopping center. We were successful at remedying issues there, so we are utilizing the approach in other areas of need. The goal is to target problem areas of the city and apply a “zero tolerance” policy to issues such as trespassing in business areas, illegal encampments in canyons or near the beach, chronic erratic behavior, crime and drug dealing. This team does not require additional staffing and is a reallocation of existing personnel. The team’s hours and locations are never disclosed, but the early results are promising.
Last fall, the City Council also commissioned the “Matrix Public Safety Study,” done by Matrix Consulting, to dig deep into residents’ concerns about OCSD’s deputy staffing and assess our city’s current public safety model and whether changes are needed. In particular, the Matrix study looked at all facets of our police services locally, including patrol, investigations, enforcement, community support, crime prevention, drug education, parking control and more. We hope, at the end of the day, that we can have greater understanding on all fronts on how to improve public safety as a community.
The city will have the results of the Matrix Study to share with the public during the first week of March at the Long Term Financial Plan meeting on March 2 at 4 p.m. at City Hall, City Council Chambers at 100 Avenida Presidio, San Clemente, CA 92672. I welcome you to attend.
As a community, we are deeply fortunate to have the sheriffs and Orange County Fire Authority personnel who are vigilant, professional and committed to protecting us. I hope you can join me in making a point to, whenever you see them around town, stop and thank them for who they are and for all that they do.
I enjoy hearing from you, so please feel free to email me your comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Brown is a City Councilman in San Clemente. He was re-elected to City Council in 2014 and served as mayor during that year