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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Featured image: Armed security patrols will continue in the Los Rios Historic District and nearby area for downtown workers. Photo: Collin Breaux

Ever since the San Juan Capistrano City Council signed off on having security guards in the downtown area in December 2020, the patrol guards have often been spotted on duty in the Los Rios Historic District and nearby area—with a particular focus on guiding nighttime workers in the area to their cars so workers feel safe.

Those patrols will stay intact after the council approved an agreement on Tuesday, Oct. 19, that keeps the guards in place. The visible presence of security guards has reportedly been well-received by visitors and business and property owners, a city staff report said.

“Staff has observed that there has been a decrease in the number of service calls and repair needs at various downtown City-maintained facilities since the private security guards were implemented,” the report said.

Staff recommended the current staffing model—two nighttime guards and a daytime guard during the busier summer months, and a single nighttime guard on most days and the weekend during non-summer months—continue through the current fiscal year.

“The cost for the additional private security services for the remainder of the fiscal year is approximately $50,000, and sufficient funds are available in the Parking Maintenance Fund,” the report said. “The cost of these services is shared with the owner of the Franciscan Plaza center, with the City’s portion funded by parking revenue generated from paid parking in the structure and surface lots.”

Councilmember Howard Hart added an amendment for staff to conduct a cost benefit analysis for patrols hours to extend until 2:30 a.m. on weekdays for bar employees, who might work past midnight. Current non-summer patrol hours are said to go from 3:30 p.m. to midnight.

“We would also do some outreach with the businesses that potentially are open beyond that hour to get a sense whether their employees would benefit from those additional services,” City Manager Ben Siegel said.

Mayor John Taylor recused himself from the discussion and vote since he lives in the Los Rios area.

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com

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