ENCINITAS — A pilot program with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department that aimed to assist the city in enforcing stiffer rules on alcohol-serving establishments is getting a reprieve. The program never really got off the ground the way the department anticipated it would during the first year.
In August 2017, the city approved the “960 Rehire” agreement, which authorized the Sheriff’s Department to hire two retired deputies to perform nighttime, weekend inspections, document compliance and investigate complaints associated with the city’s deemed approved ordinance, which took effect Sept. 9, 2017.
The program’s name refers to the 960 hours the retired deputies can work a year, the maximum the state allows retirees to work.
But the Sheriff’s Department was only able to hire one deputy, who performed 16 nighttime inspections between September 2017 and May 30, and is scheduled to perform two more this month.
The Sheriff’s Department billed the city $4,200 for the entire year, far less than the $57,600 the city budgeted for.
On June 13, the City Council, with no discussion, voted to reauthorize the program using the remaining $53,000 with hopes of hiring the second deputy.
“The pilot program didn’t get fully tested, so I think it made sense to continue to fund it and try to get it staffed properly,” City Councilman Tony Kranz said. “I always wondered whether there would be a couple retired deputies that wanted to work the swing shift on weekends. We’ll give it another year and then consider alternatives if it isn’t staffed as planned.”
Mayor Catherine Blakespear echoed Kranz’s sentiments regarding the likely difficulty of recruiting for the positions.
“It doesn’t surprise me because it is specialized work and requires not only law enforcement experience, but the interpersonal skills to develop a relationship with the businesses,” Blakespear said. “It can take time to find the right person. We are recruiting ‘retired’ individuals who have worked their entire career and finding those with the experience, appetite and passion to do late night work requires a commitment that is not insignificant.”
If the department is unable to hire a second deputy, the City Council’s approval grants the Sheriff’s Department to use the money to fund overtime for a regular deputy to assist the retired deputy with the nighttime inspections.
“The program, as demonstrated during the pilot program period, provides the City an opportunity to effectively and timely implement the DAO while monitoring and leveraging the data/metrics to assess the success of the program,” according to the staff report. “Staff will continue to collaborate with the Sheriff’s Department to advance this effort through their approval process should the Council authorize the continuation of the program. Staff will return in June 2019 with an update on the success of the program during its second year.”
The Coast News reached out to Sheriff’s Capt. John Maryon, but Maryon is out of state for training between June 9 and July 1. We will update the story when he returns with his comments.
Encinitas approved the deemed-approved ordinance after residents’ complaints about the downtown night scene reached a crescendo in 2016 and 2017.
Deemed-approved ordinances give cities more latitude in enforcing nuisance rules and revoking business licenses on establishments that are subject to less restrictions due to their grandfathered status.
In the case of Encinitas, the ordinance would target all alcohol-serving establishments that are open after 10 p.m., or 41 of the city’s 131 alcohol-serving establishments, making them subject to tougher noise, trash and other nuisance standards.
Establishments that violate the new rules would be subjected to a warning at first, but subsequent violations would result in fines of $500 and $1,000 and an administrative hearing after a second offense to determine if further action — or revocation — is necessary.