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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Increase in people asking for money in center medians in Rancho Bernardo

Residents say members of an organization called True Vine Restoration are walking in and out of traffic and being aggressive.

A group of solicitors collecting money in Rancho Bernardo has residents in that area upset. They say members of an organization called True Vine Restoration are walking in and out of traffic and being aggressive. Residents say over several days within the past week, solicitors have been standing on not one, but two medians. They're concerned about people's safety, and upset, saying nothing is being done about it.

"If it's lucrative, they come….you know?" said Robin Kaufman. Kaufman lives near the intersection of Rancho Bernardo Road and West Bernardo Drive where she says solicitors have been gathering to collect money for an organization called True Vine Restoration.

"They make themselves look very professional wearing yellow vests, holding buckets saying they are collecting for a cause."

She provided pictures, showing people on and off the medians. Robin is the president of the Rancho Bernardo Community Council. She says several residents have come to her with concerns and complaints.

For starters, they claim the people collecting money are aggressive, and using dangerous tactics.

"We understand people are on street corners all the time but when they start darting out into the street, going into the each lane, knocking on people's windows, standing there until they give them money, then we're a bit concerned."

Another concern: whether or not True Vine Restoration is legitimate.

We checked, and based on IRS records, it is in fact a licensed non-profit organization. True Vine Restoration provides housing and counseling for those trying to overcome addiction.

"Yes. I would say it's blown out of proportion because we are doing a community a service." Cardell Jeffrey is the pastor. He says everything his members are doing to collect money is legal.

"We’re not aggressive because you can't force someone to give you a donation."

We contacted San Diego Police and confirmed in San Diego, standing on a median to collect money is legal, and you don't need a special license to do it.

What isn't legal: running in and out of traffic.

Pastor Jeffrey tells us his volunteers only walk into lanes to collect money when it's clear a driver wants to donate. “And quickly return to the median before the light turns green so you don't impede the traffic."

Back in Rancho Bernardo, Robin Kaufman says she's called police herself, but isn't satisfied with the response.

"They said they would look into it and send a patrol." We've learned officers have visited the intersection in question, ensuring volunteers are aware of what's allowed and what's not.

Pastor Jeffrey says the group will abide by those rules. As for continuing to collect money in Rancho Bernardo, that's unclear since volunteers travel city wide.