CHP overtime contract renewed with RSF

Last week, the Rancho Santa Fe Association board approved an overtime contract with the California Highway Patrol through December 2011.

Since 2004, the association has contracted with the CHP for additional traffic enforcement. The overtime is supplementary to the regular service of the CHP and Encinitas Sheriff’s Department.

Typically, the officers log an average of 20 hours a week in Rancho Santa Fe. They used to work four-hour shifts, but since September, they have worked in eight-hour shifts, according to associate planner Liz Avalon.

In 2008, CHP officers worked 218 shifts, issuing 1,106 moving violations, 127 verbal warnings and catching two DUIs. The majority of moving violations were for not wearing a seat belt or using a cell phone while driving.

“People squawk about the seat-belt tickets, but in the long run, it saves your life,” Rancho Santa Fe Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser said. “I think we are seeing the very good benefits of this program.”

Another positive result of the CHP presence is a 19 percent drop in vehicle collisions, Wellhouser said.

As the CHP’s priority is safety and speeding, it does not issue parking violations.

However, Avalon said that the Sheriff’s Department has issued 174 tickets since January.