By Cathy Tallyn
(July 14) Saying they’re not racist and conceding that outdoor protests in Rossmoor can’t be stopped, members of the GRF Policy Committee nevertheless drafted guidelines last Tuesday that would set some limits on when and where protests can be held.
These include the requirement of one business days’ notice to GRF and that protests only be held between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Left out of the guidelines were the issues that residents found most unpalatable: A $500 security deposit, a one-hour protest limit and where the protests can be held.
The committee meeting drew an unprecedented number of attendees – 86 via Zoom videoconferencing.
At the start of the meeting, Chairman Ken Anderson indicated there would be changes to the proposed policy. “I’m gratified that we’ve received over 70 emails,” he said. “I got 32 in the last 20 minutes.”
Committee member Bob Kelso said, “We’re trying to do what’s in the best interests of Rossmoor. We’re not trying to suppress ideas. … We just want to make sure it’s safe.”
During the resident’s forum, one speaker questioned why the committee decided to come up with a protest policy so closely following Black Lives Matter and Juneteenth demonstrations in Rossmoor.
CEO Tim O’Keefe, who prepared the report on the recommended policy, said it “had nothing to do with” the three peaceful demonstrations earlier in the summer.
Eleven people spoke about the original 12-point policy. “It’s a draconian policy,” said resident Judith Jennings. “It’s shameful.”
Kathleen Epperson added, “I encourage you to do what’s right and best for all of Rossmoor… and not a vocal minority.”
Resident Mary Ramos spoke in support of a policy that prevents what happened to her during one demonstration. She related how one demonstrator stepped off the median strip in front of her car.
“Safety should be the No. 1 criteria,” Ramos said.
The four GRF Board members who make up the committee went over the proposed policy line by line to come up with new guidelines.
Besides determining when protests can be held and requiring one day’s notice is to get a permit, the revised version included that organizers are responsible for cleanup and damage costs and that protestors stay out of roadways, driveways, entries and street medians.
The changed version will go to GRF’s legal counsel for review and the committee will revisit the issue at its Aug. 4 meeting. The committee could recommend the GRF Board adopt the guidelines.
Later in the meeting, the committee debated whether there should be consequences and who will enforce them if a resident violates GRF policies, procedures or rules.
Committee member Dale Harington said there should be consequences for violations. The rest of the committee agreed.
The group talked about who would be the enforcer.
There would have to be renegotiation of Rossmoor’s contract with Securitas, if the security service provider were to enforce rules, Anderson noted.
After some discussion, the four came up with a policy that spells out what the consequences are for violators and who will determine them.
The CEO or his designee can suspend a violator’s Rossmoor privileges, including entry by RFID tag into the community. The person also could be fined $100 or issued warnings.
In other business, the committee adopted guidelines for COVID-19 related decisions. It also approved the use of electronic communication, such as Zoom, during the time of crisis. And the committee gave its OK to some modifications to guidelines for Rossmoor election media access.