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Policy Committee continues tackling demonstration policy update

by Mike Wood

Staff Writer


A proposal that Rossmoor’s trails system be consolidated into fewer specific trails, none of which would be named after individuals, is headed to the GRF Board for consideration.

The Policy Committee made recommendations at its March 11 meeting in two 4 to 0 votes for amending Policy 501.0 to simplify Rossmoor’s trail system.

Thornier topics, particularly potential changes to Rossmoor’s demonstration policy, will be discussed further by the committee. Committee members are wrestling with changes to the language of that policy, which was enacted in December 2020, and a proposed application for members and groups that wish to demonstrate on GRF property.

GRF General Manager Jeff Matheson will present a clean version of the policy incorporating the revised wording, along with any comments from legal counsel Tony Grafals, at the April 8 Policy Committee meeting.

The demonstrations topic once again drew a slew of residents to the Board Room for the meeting. While the Policy Committee mainly stuck to discussing wording of proposed amendments, residents voiced opposition during Residents’ Forum to any stringent changes to current Policy 103.5. Among the speakers was Charlotte Ashmun of the board of Rossmoor Advocates for Diversity, one of Rossmoor’s most active organizations.

“RAD wants to make it clear that we oppose any revision to the current version of the Golden Rain policy 103.5 on demonstrations as restrictions on free speech and the right to assemble,” Ashmun said.

She also cited “extreme restrictions on frequency of demonstrations” and the proposed new designated location, as well as “an unworkable and unrealistic requirement that all flyers and posters be pre-approved as part of the application process three days before an event is to occur.”

Resident Susan Hildreth voiced concerns about the possibility of “discriminatory interpretations and decisions” coming out of a potential denial of an application to demonstrate for what was termed “inflammatory content.”

She also was concerned about the proposed location for demonstrations – on the west side of Rossmoor Parkway north of the current Pickleball Courts and south of Saklan Indian Drive, around the area that a creche and a Coexist banner are typically displayed during the holiday season.

“This is a very small area, and I also think it could create traffic hazards, which is a concern of the current location,” Hildreth said.

The committee did not change the proposed location for demonstrations, nor a provision that would limit GRF members and recognized Rossmoor organizations to holding one demonstration per calendar month for a maximum of four daylight hours.

There is no designated demonstration location in the current policy, but the corner of Rossmoor Parkway and Golden Rain Road, just past the front gate, is where resident Mary Ellen Ratcliff has been regularly demonstrating for social justice causes since the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

Resident Patty Hara described an incident in which she was demonstrating at that corner, to express what she called a “different viewpoint” from Ratcliff.

Hara thought her own presence that day played a part in a vehicle accident by a driver who was passing by and then struck a median. That made Hara decide to not go back, she said.

Consolidated trails names

Resident Diddo Cla rk praised the effort to eliminate having trails named after individuals. Those currently named after individuals all honor men, she noted, and no women are recognized.

The proposed consolidated trails names are the West Ridge Trail, East Ridge Trail, Valley View Trail, Las Trampas Road Bypass and Shady Glen Loop.

Memorial plaques

In another matter, the committee discussed tweaking language for the proposed policy and guidelines for those wanting to donate memorial plaques.

Policy Committee Chair Maxine Topper and member Carol Meehan each expressed concern about a proposal that wording on memorial plaques, which would have to be reviewed by GRF staff, could not include the dates of a person’s life “to maintain the dignity and respect of our community.”

“‘Maintain the dignity and respect of our community’ … that is pretty heavy handed,” Meehan said.

Topper said she has tried to contact as many people as she can to seek opinions about whether the dates of one’s life should be allowed on a memorial plaque.

“Absolutely no one had an affinity against seeing someone’s dates of life,” Topper said. “Actually, in many cases they said, ‘Well, I really like to see the dates of life.’ Some people here have lived 105 years. That’s fabulous.”

Commit te e members seemed to favor including one’s accomplishments or an inspirational quote, but Dwight Walker said he didn’t want the community to have the feel of a cemetery by putting the years of life on a memorial plaque. “That’s not what we’re about. … We’re an active adult community,” Walker said, noting the absence of anything official to guide staff or residents about wording.

The intent is to give those wishing to donate a memorial plaque “something that they can look at to guide them in saying what’s appropriate or not,” committee co-chair James Lee said.

“I think this is an effort to do that.”