Over the last several months there have been discussions at our Board meetings, about security concerns in the neighborhood such as vandalism and burglaries, and on-going problems at the beach park.
We all see the reports of vandalism and burglaries on the neighborhood Facebook page, and that causes concern that our neighborhood is unsafe or not taking steps to prevent crime. With respect to vandalism and burglaries, some have suggested adding private security patrols, neighborhood watch programs, or other ideas to improve safety in Blue Ridge. Unfortunately, each suggestion comes with additional expense/risk, but without the statistics to demonstrate a reduction in crime. Moreover, a recent review of crime statistics shows that Blue Ridge has a significantly lower number of crimes reported than surrounding neighborhoods. Even when compared to similar neighborhoods like Laurelhurst, which pay extra for security of approximately $250 per household.
The best way to prevent vandalism and burglaries is to take personal responsibility for your safety and belongings. If you have a car, park it in the garage. If you park on the street, don’t leave anything visible in your car that would entice someone to break-in (certainly do not leave your garage door opener in the car). With your homes, use a security alarm service. Companies will go through your house and point out vulnerabilities and offer suggestions to improve security. Then it is up to each homeowner to set the alarm every time they leave the house.
We are all fortunate to live in Blue Ridge with the lifestyle benefits that it provides. Unfortunately, no neighborhood is going to completely escape criminal activity. But taking the simple steps discussed above will dramatically reduce the chances that you will be the next person to post on Facebook about criminal activity on your property.
It seems that problems at the beach park were a hot topic this summer, as it is every summer. Problems included inadequate clean-up, vandalism, beach fires, unauthorized FOB use, teen parties, noise, dogs off leash, etc. And of course, the greatest concerns are when safety is compromised.
Our community has mechanisms to try and deal with these issues: education, community pressure, and penalties. With respect to education, you should all know that there is a Beach Park Code of Conduct. New residents are briefed on the code of conduct by the Membership Chair, reminders are sent out in the Bulletin, and new signage has been placed at the park as an additional reminder. But the rules are frankly common sense: respect our community property, and when using the park, respect the rights of others present.
As far as penalties and enforcement go, there really isn’t a perfect solution but we are considering some different options. For those that do not follow the rules, the main recourse we have is to penalize people by discontinuing FOB keys. While we have the means of tracking FOB usage at the gates, it is nevertheless difficult to enforce penalties without eye witnesses. As a deterrent and possible way to identify offenders, the Board is considering security cameras as part of the 2018 Budget. With resolution and camera placement there is concern over how well cameras will pick up activity, but at this point, the Board seems to support giving this a try.
Unauthorized FOB usage is another issue. Sometimes residents give their FOBs to non-residents which is very difficult to address. One idea under consideration is to shut-off all FOBs, and have homeowners present their FOBs at the clubhouse to reactivate. This would be quite an administrative undertaking and may not fully solve the problem. As I complete my first year on the Board, I have become more familiar with these perennial issues and have found that they are not easy answers. I welcome your input and suggestions.