OPINION

Reilly: Homeowners don’t have control

Posted 6/27/22

This letter is in response to your article (“No to golf course trespass,” Sun City West Independent, June 15, 2022).

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OPINION

Reilly: Homeowners don’t have control

Posted

This letter is in response to your article (“No to golf course trespass,” Sun City West Independent, June 15, 2022).

The story is correct. Here in Sun City West, we’ve personally dealt with this issue for more than a decade. In the old days, the Recreation Centers of Sun City West hired individuals to patrol the courses in golf carts to catch trespass violators in the act and then informed the individuals they were trespassing and they were politely asked to remove themselves from golf course property. This process worked. The downside, it cost time, money and gasoline. 

Fast forward to the present, we’re now told homeowners should contact the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office by calling 602-876-1011 to report the trespass crime. Keep in mind, as homeowners, it’s my understanding, we don’t own the golf courses as they are private property and we would be trespassing if we went onto the course to inform the violators to remove themselves from the course.

As homeowners, we don’t have any lawful control over the golf courses and, therefore, the sheriff’s office is not obligated to do what we’ve requested. Finally, since ARS 13-1502 is a misdemeanor crime, the law enforcement officer would actually need to see the trespass violation occur to take action.

Criminal trespass has to be done “knowingly,” i.e. there must be signs posted by the owner of the golf courses that state something like this: “No Trespassing As Per ARS 13-1502, Violators Will Be Prosecuted by RCSCW.” 

Here is a copy of the Arizona Revised Statute 13-1502 (words underlined by me for emphasis).     

ARS 13-1502. Criminal trespass in the third degree; classification.

  1. A person commits criminal trespass in the third degree by:
  2. Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully on any real property after a reasonable request to leave by a law enforcement officer, the owner or any other person having lawful control over such property, or reasonable notice prohibiting entry.
  3. Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully on the right-of-way for tracks, or the storage or switching yards or rolling stock of a railroad company.
  4. Pursuant to subsection A, paragraph 1 of this section, a request to leave by a law enforcement officer acting at the request of the owner of the property or any other person having lawful control over the property has the same legal effect as a request made by the property owner or other person having lawful control of the property.
  5. Criminal trespass in the third degree is a class 3 misdemeanor.

What does this all mean? The rec centers management in Sun City West and Sun City need to enforce the law regarding their own properties instead of passing the buck onto the homeowners, who legally have no lawful control over your golf course property. The rec centers of Sun City West and Sun City have kicked this can down the road to the homeowners one too many times. It’s time for the rec centers to stop passing the buck and finally start taking control of their own golf course properties for the benefit and security of all homeowners who live next to golf course properties.

Brian Reilly

Sun City West

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