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City amends alarm ordinance

Council approves changes to curb high number of false alarms
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Burglary alarms are the third most common type of call received by the Roseville Police Department — and 99 percent of them are false.

Last year, officers and dispatchers spent about 2,800 hours responding to unfounded burglary and robbery alarms at an estimated cost in staff time of nearly $130,000.

Roseville City Council unanimously approved an amendment to the city’s alarm ordinance May 4 to minimize the financial impact of these calls.

So far this fiscal year, police have responded to 3,336 alarm calls, which equates to about 10 a day, said Capt. Ned Rosenbrook. Of those alarms, 40 were valid and four resulted in the arrest of a burglar or trespasser.

“As you can see, it’s a huge drain on police resources,” Rosenbrook said.

Most false alarms are caused by user error, and a small percentage of users — primarily businesses — create the problem, he said.

The fees and fines associated with the alarm program fall short of recovering the city’s costs for managing alarm permits and false alarm tracking.

Currently, the city recovers about $36,390 in new permit fees and $61,700 in excessive false alarm fines each year. But managing the program and responding to calls costs the city about $200,000.

Under the changed ordinance, new alarm permits will increase from $30 to $35. There will be an annual $5 renewal fee for the police to update users’ contact information. The city will reduce its free false alarm responses from three to one.

Previously, the city charged a $50 fine once a user hit three false alarms. Now users will pay $60 at the second false alarm, $85 at the third and $100 at the fourth.

With these changes, the Police Department expects to recover about $200,000 annually.

In other business, Sierra College is exploring sites that will allow the campus to grow — and the City of Roseville plans to help.

Mayor Pauline Roccucci signed a memorandum of understanding stating a desire to work collaboratively with the Rocklin-based community college for the planning and expansion of the school within city limits.

“We’re obviously very excited to have this partnership with the City of Roseville to focus on higher education and work on perhaps bringing a larger facility (here),” said Sierra College board President Aaron Klein. “We’re looking at how to fulfill our needs in the south Placer area in the next 20 (to) 25 years, so it’s a great partnership.”

Roseville and Sierra College previously collaborated to launch a satellite campus at the Roseville Gateway site, operate the college’s Regional Firefighter Academy at the city’s Fire Training Center each semester and implement a start-up grant funding initiative to develop a solar installer certification program.

“We look forward to many years of working together and enlarging your school because your school is an asset for our community,” Roccucci said. “Of my four children, all four went there. My husband and I went there before going on to other colleges. Yours was the starting place.”

The city is forming a higher education task force to assist with this partnership.

Also during the meeting, Housing Programs Manager Jan Shonkwiler provided the council with preliminary homeless data for 2011. Countywide, the number of homeless people is up from 616 in 2009 to 627. In Roseville, the count is up from 202 to 283, which includes 72 children.

The majority of these people (128) live in transitionary housing such as Roseville Home Start and the Lazarus Project, and 71 live in emergency housing. The census found 75 people — including 10 kids — unsheltered and nine were “count only,” which means the city did not make contact.

Shonkwiler said Roseville is seeing “a new population of homeless that don’t know how to be homeless,” and aren’t familiar with available resources.

Here’s a look at some items approved during the May 4 Roseville City Council meeting:

Speed limit ordinance: Staff completed 29 engineering and traffic surveys and recommended one speed limit decrease, 11 increases and 17 no changes. Roseville last conducted a speed survey in 2004, which is updated every seven years. The council must approve the second reading of this ordinance before the speed limits are changed.

Suspension of the Development Impact Fee annual inflationary adjustment: Two years ago, the council suspended the 2009 Construction Cost Index (CCI) inflationary adjustment and repealed the 2010 CCI adjustment on city-controlled development fees. Fees stayed at 2008 levels to maintain Roseville’s competitiveness in attracting new investment and development.

The annual CCI adjustment, estimated at a 4.2 percent increase, is scheduled to resume July 1. The city will suspend the adjustment for one more year, which comes at an estimated cost of $200,000 in forgone revenue.

Robot purchase: The Police Department will replace the robot destroyed in the Westfield Galleria arson fire in October. The previous robot was purchased in 2006 with federal Homeland Security funds and was used regularly to respond to explosive device calls, SWAT calls and other critical incidents.

The Allen Vanguard MK2 robot and accessories will cost $113,879. The purchase is funded by the city’s insurance company and the California Emergency Management Agency.

Slurry Seal project call for bids: The project includes placing a new pavement surface of hot mix asphalt slurry seal to various residential streets in portions of Woodcreek North Village, Woodcreek West Village and Highland Reserve North neighborhoods. Construction is anticipated to begin in July and finish in September. Total project cost is $1.2 million, funded with Gas Tax Funds.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com.