MELISSA MCCREADY, San Clemente; SUE NESPOR, San Clemente resident; LAURA FERGUSON, former San Clemente councilmember
Councilmembers Cabral, Knoblock, and Loeffler pulled the wool over the public’s eyes on June 6 by doing an about-face on hiring private security for North Beach at a cost of $350,000 without public notice. There was no mention in the agenda report on the fiscal year budget about discussing or authorizing the expenditure of funds for security.
The discussion was likely a Brown Act violation.
To reopen a prior vote required council to place the item on the next meeting agenda. The budget item was used as a subterfuge to rediscuss the prior vote.
The law provides that agenda items must give enough information to permit the public to make an informed decision about whether or not to participate. This action by council squashed further public criticism like we saw raised at previous meetings.
Public input played a role in the council voting against private security on May 16—instead voting to hire more deputies. This makes sense since sworn deputies can cite and arrest while private security guards cannot. Even the chief of police services said that “the private security will be calling us (deputies) when things get out of hand, just like a citizen would call us.”
In its sneaky approach to add private security to appease the vocal minority, it cut out the will of the majority who will be funding this debacle. This has become a political issue, and throwing money at this does not solve anything.
When asked at the council meeting if the city manager had information on the costs and possibility of hiring more park rangers to take on a similar role, he said he “hadn’t completed any analysis on the subject” despite the subject being discussed for months.
Expending additional funds is not smart until the use of current city resources (park rangers, code enforcement officers, homeless outreach coordinators and deputies) are analyzed over time to measure code enforcement violations and crime statistics. Staff, who report to the city, will have a greater impact than private security officers.
Council’s trouncing of democracy demands that they revisit this and reverse course.