At the August 28 meeting of the Santee City Council a public speaker asked the City Council to straighten out a situation at Sky Ranch that makes it difficult for the Sheriff's Department to issue citations and enforce traffic rules on private roads in the neighborhood, which has led to increased speeding and stop sign running in the area.
Jack Dale said he had been hearing concerns on this issue from citizens on "Rattlesnake Mountain," now known as the community of Sky Ranch. Some roads in that community are still private streets and haven't been accepted as public because of a water drainage issue. He said there is a lot of confusion about what can and can't be done up there.
"It's my understanding that it's become more than small actions, but a blatant disregard for driving laws," said Dale. "There is real frustration up there."
Mike Brute, a resident of Sky Ranch, spoke to the council about his own frustrations with the issue and getting clarity on the law.
He said the Sheriff told him the department can't issue citations for vehicle violations in the area because they are private roads, but Brute said he received two letters from the city that said those rules could be enforced. City staff then sent him an email with a legal explanation for why they can't issue citations and acknowledged that the previous letters were incorrect, according to Brute.
"I'm trying to get this addressed but Im having a difficult time contacting staff," said Brute. "I don't have any faith this will be dealt with properly."
Dale said the "grand solution" is to settle the lawsuit ongoing between the city of Santee and the Sky Ranch developers, making the streets public.
The City Attorney said that the litigation is being driven by the developer, but he's optimistic it will be settled soon- "in next month or so, and they could be public streets within 90 days."
The Sheriffs Department said they need an ordinance in order to issue citations, though officers could step in in extreme cases like reckless driving.
Santee Sheriff's Station Captain Lisa Miller said she met with the Sky Ranch homeowners association four times in the last year in order to help citizens understand the situation. She said deputies are up there an average of once a day.
Brute implored the council for a solution, on the basis that the "basics of city government is to enforce the laws."
"The city will be responsive to you, but probably not what you want," said Dale.
Councilmember John Minto asked to have city staff look into what kind of ordinance can be created to alleviate the issue with private roads now and in the future, so the city can learn from this experience.
The City Attorney said he would like to come back to this subject when it's put on the meeting agenda, and he can then better explain what enforcement can legally be done now.