October 2007 ISSUE

We do not make jokes, we simply watch the LA Times, the Orange County Register and CID/HOA board of directors and report the facts!

Coto's Dads Take Matters Into Own Hands, Get A+: CHP Collision Report, 3Q2007

 Kudos Coto Moms & Dads for doing what the CZ BOD refused to even consider!

October 5, 2007  

The 3Q2007 CHP collision figures just received from the CHP show a quarterly collision level (on an annualized basis) comparable to the levels the Coto de Caza community experienced prior to expulsion of the CHP by the CZ Master Association board of directors, leaving the community with no pro-active traffic patrol for more than two years.  After the firing of the CHP, the collision rate doubled each year, leading to the first traffic fatality in the community in December 2005, and three months later, the second fatality that was largely ignored, not only by the CZ board, but also by the Orange County Register.

The new low collision levels logged during 3Q2007 are despite the fact that total patrol hours per month are down roughly 60% from 2005 levels.  That there is no concerted community awareness programs to speak of, and no proactive work done to identify and eliminate blind alleys, where most near miss accidents usually happen

In comparison, Ladera Ranch had  9 collisions;, one injury and 8 property damages, from July 1 through Sept. 30.  There was one DUI arrest in Ladera Rach and that person is a  Rancho Santa Margarita resident

Annualized 2Q2007 CHP Collision Report for Coto de Caza.  Source:  CHP Capistrano, CA

Immediately after the first fatality in December 2005, the CZ master association board of directors was coerced into rehiring the CHP for pro-active traffic patrol.  A note posted in the Coto Discussion Forum, authored by the then security chairperson,  on Friday, December 9 in response to former board member, Joseph Morabito's charges of board negliglece reads:"The Board agreed last night to rehire the CHP after concerned residents voiced their opinion unequivocally and unanimously that we wanted CHP back in here immediately.  CHP have started patrolling effective immediately in anticipation of a contract with CZ Master (a friend already received a tickets AND was glad they were back).  I just wish it could have happened early.  It just might have made a difference - and it breaks my heart".

It is often argued that hindsight is 20-20, however, what happens when public servants fail to even consider recommendations from responsible leaders, such as CHP's captain Helzig?  The letter below was sent to the CZ master associatio board of directors days before the first fatality:

The CZ board of directors-friendly Orange County Register on the other hand,  in the article titled Community mourns Coto teen killed in crash, published Friday, December 9, 2005 quotes then president Robert Varo’s misguided reason for firing the CHP "For three years, ending in January 2004, the CHP was contracted for traffic enforcement; the development association paid about $115,000 a year for up to 40 hours a week of patrols. CZ Master Association President Robert Varo said the agreement was ended because the community was not getting enough services for the money it paid"

While Hillsboro district delegate Robert Bellamy exhorts Coto parents to get involved in the most important public safety issue of proactive traffic patrol and writes “I believe that it is time for the residents of Coto de Caza to unite and very aggressively do what we as individuals can do to help secure proactive traffic enforcement from both the CHP and the OC Sheriff. Well placed telephone calls to CHP officials, Supervisor Wilson and Sheriff Carona will go a long way if we present a united front and maximize the political clout that residents here possess"

The move however, was largely ineffective in the short term, as the CZ master association let road certification expire, meaning that the CHP was not able to operate, then simply blamed it on a missing tickler file. 

At about this time,  we challenged the board to commit to lowering the old time high collision rate to 2002 levels.  The board did not even respond.

Although CHP patrol hours are down during 2007, the citations per hour have doubled.   Hardly an explanation for the significant decrease in the number of collisions during 3Q2007.  We suspect that  major drivers  are the responsible Coto Moms and Dads, “cool dads”, notwithstanding as well as the criminalizing of underage drinking in California.   Kudos Coto Moms & Dads! - you have done what the CZ BOD did not even consider doing!  

We should note that according to CHP’ Officer Goodwin, two of the collisions were caused by two DUI 18 year old Coto residents, subsequently arrested.

Letter to the Varo/Mezger CZ Master Association board of directors days before the first traffic fatality in the community, dated 11/3, 2005


I can certainly understand when the CZ BOD’s president says that it is mind boggling to deal with City Hall.  It is more so when one deals with a BOD who wants to turn Coto into that same bureaucracy!

However, besides the fact that we are confident we can prove in a court of law that the decision to fire  the CHP does not pass the Business Judgment Rule, simply bringing in the Sheriff is NOT pro-active traffic control.

As we have written so many times, we subscribe to CHP Captain Elzig’s pro-active traffic control formula:

Effective pro-active traffic controls must include:


1.  Awareness campaign – In the past, Lt Deck and Captain Elzig have communicated with the CZ board and volunteered to launch such campaign.  She has even volunteered to attend CZ Master Board meeting and discuss the issue with residents!


2.  Visibility – simply having a CHP or Sheriff’s patrol car around the most dangerous roads minimizes speeding – even if the vehicles are un-manned - most accidents occur in three roads within Coto – hence these are not “accidents”.


3.  Community patrol – as shareholders we have the duty to enforce the corporation’s rules.  Neighborhood watches need to be coordinated with the other security initiatives.  


4.                  Issuing citations – A strong deterrent – All violators should then be held accountable for their actions.  This does not mean that only certain violators are cited.  If socially challenged Country Club and Concert patrons, and others, do not have the self-control to hold their liquor or any other drugs,  cannot or will not obey traffic laws, AND they are targeted, they should then be held accountable, just like and speeder or gate runner:  


5.                  Monitoring – by monitoring relevant statistics (as compared to the useless data collected by Securitas), and communicating with the Nationhood watch, the community is best able to determine what adjustments are necessary.


So the issue is not whether to bring in the Sheriff or the CHP.  The issue is to have an effective  pro-active traffic control plan, which we have been requesting from this board for over two years.


The fact that the board is having predictable problems in bringing in the Sheriff, is not an excuse for not implementing the other components of the plan, ANY plan. 


I urge the board, Keystone and legal counsel to take immediate action, articulating and implementing an effective pro-active traffic control plan.  Otherwise, an objective person will immediately see individual and collective negligence written all over any future accidents within Coto.


Obviously, I have given this issue a lot of personal attention, volunteered  to collaborate on a security strategic plan, and volunteered to provide data to the Keystone GM – no response.


This time, I do expect to hear from you on the subject at your earliest convenience, for the commonwealth of all Coto residents.




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