OB Rag Editorial: There Is No Consensus – Delay the Police Cameras

by on December 18, 2015 · 16 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Media, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

OB surveill cam Sign edThe OB Rag is urging the City of San Diego to delay the installation of the police surveillance cameras – currently scheduled for “sometime at the first of the year”. We urge the City to delay the project until at least there has been adequate discussion within the community of Ocean Beach about the cameras.

If anything these last few weeks have shown – it’s the complete lack of consensus within the community about the cameras and whether they should go in at all.  There also has been insufficient community debate and discussion about the needs for the cameras.  Yet, the cameras are still coming in.

Therefore, because of the lack of consensus and lack of wide community debate, we urge District 2 City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf – whose office initiated the funding search for the camera system – to delay or postpone their installation.

For Zapf to continue to push these cameras on OB in the face of the opposition that has surfaced is definitely a political gamble for her – and her history with liberal OB has been tenuous (Zapf doesn’t attend too many community meetings in OB) at best. If Zapf is seen to favor the side that wants the cameras – an influential Newport Avenue merchant bloc – over the rest of community – albeit divided – voters could remember.

We also urge Mayor Kevin Faulconer to step in and assist in the process to delay or postpone the cameras because, again, of a lack of community consensus in OB. Mr. Faulconer knows OB, as he used to represent District 2 and Ocean Beach, and he is definitely familiar with the civil libertarian strand within the funky village. Faulconer, to this day, remains an amiable urban diplomat and if it takes the Mayor’s Office to initiate a reasonable delay, then we welcome it.

We also urge the San Diego Police Department, particularly Western Division, to initiate a delay of the project at their end.

It appears that the police have some public relations to mend (see video of recent arrest of man with dog) in Ocean Beach. And to continue to push this camera project on a divided community does nothing for good relations with the public – particularly in a time when there is a national discussion going on about relations between communities and their police departments – .

In addition, we believe it is not good public relations for police representatives to be advising citizens that the cameras “are not Big Brother”, that “citizens do not have any privacy rights at the beach”, that surveillance cameras are the wave of the future and are everywhere anyhow – all recent public statements by police officials – and then to snub a meeting of the very citizens who have articulated questions about the police cameras.

If anything these past weeks have shown is that there is indeed opposition to the surveillance cameras. A group has formed – OB Citizens Against Privacy Abuse (OB CAPA); it’s first goal was to ‘get the word out’ about the cameras – as the City had failed to do so, and it has done this through hundreds of posters put up, a petition against the cameras circulated, and fairly sympathetic television and print coverage of the issue.

Significantly, CAPA organized a large, well-attended forum last week where the vast majority of those who attended opposed to the cameras. There was over 50 people at the event.

Importantly, CAPA has raised so many questions about the cameras and so many issues that it appears that the more OBceans hear about them, the more the opposition grows.

But OB is seemingly in a race against time. Clear answers about the process of the camera installations are difficult to come by either from the Councilwoman or Mayor’s offices.

Let’s figure the issues out. Let’s talk – but delay the cameras in the meantime until OB has had time to discuss about all of it.



{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

George Orwell December 18, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Storm the OB Hotel an tear down their camera!


Tyler December 20, 2015 at 6:45 am

it’s not like surfers use that camera or anything…. we all just use it to barely squint and make out people every once in awhile on the beach.



Captain America December 21, 2015 at 4:52 pm

The OB hotel cam is a toy. Police cameras in other cities have night vision and can read ID someone from 500 feet away, or read the text off your cell phone even. Of course we really don’t know the details because it’s all a big secret. For your own good of course.


unWASHedwallmartTHONG December 18, 2015 at 6:48 pm

I second the motion. I’m w/ Frank.


Colin December 19, 2015 at 1:45 pm
Doug Blackwood December 19, 2015 at 2:09 pm

NO Cameras. Let OB peeps be heard!


30something December 21, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Take 10 minutes to read all about the joke of a camera project in San Francisco. It looks like we are doomed to repeat it:



unWASHedwallmartTHONG December 21, 2015 at 7:43 pm

Very good article. Thanks for the link. I would share my true feelings, but I think someone is watching me type.


Geoff Page December 23, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Thanks for the link. Send it to Zapf but you may need to increase the font, take out the big words, and add some drawings and pictures with lots of brilliant colors.


rick callejon December 21, 2015 at 6:35 pm


thanks for that article. If only Lorie Zapf and the local police had read it (or done any research whatsoever), the $61,000 to be be spent on our beach surveillance cameras might have been better spent.


Alex Alexander December 26, 2015 at 7:17 am

Place More Cameras

If you go by the rules or laws of civilisation….nothing in bloody hell will occur to you.


Posey January 1, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Yeah, right! What planet do you live on?


Donny December 26, 2015 at 6:43 pm

You sound like you’re from the UK, land of surveillance and no privacy protections. How’s that working out for you? U.S.A. was created by citizens rebelling against government intrusion.


Frank Gormlie December 30, 2015 at 7:33 pm

Well, hold onto your tongue, seems like everybody in OB is ok with the cams except a small group of feisty old hippies -the OB Citizens Against Privacy Abuse. How and why has it come to this? Now it appears that the OB Town Council has come out in support, altho qualified support and only for 1 year. Who will take the cameras down after that first year if they prove to be ineffective?


Kevin H December 31, 2015 at 4:55 pm

It will be impossible to measure their effectiveness, because there are no goalposts, and since the crime reporting doesn’t allow them to map crimes that occur on the beach.


Colin January 2, 2016 at 1:48 pm

I’ll take a general stab that, historically, it’s pretty easy to get people to forfeit civil or human rights by creating a heightened security context and a depressed economic one. The former disguises capital crimes and crimes of capitalism abroad as creation of universal political freedom and recognizes resistance as terrorism, causing fear at home, real or perceived (e.g., the many Cold War conflations of post colonial national independence movements with the bogeyman of so-called “international communist conspiracy”). And the latter, compounding the former, makes many people feel pinched, crimping intolerance and narrow vision, and actually does pinch many more people, casting them out of work or onto the streets, so that whether or not real crime or petty crime numbers increase, there is at least a cultural perception of increase. I think it’s fair to say that the Bill of Rights was created, at least in part, to cut through this crap and ensure the viability of independent citizenry against any overweening centralized power of smaller groups of elite decision makers. When the bulk of that citizenry increasingly buys into these “necessary” realities of “security” and “austerity”, that’s when the Bill of Rights starts blinking red, and you hope that the really hard lessons of political freedom won’t have to be re-learned.


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