Opposition to Police Cameras Dominates Packed Public Forum

by on December 10, 2015 · 17 comments

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

OB CApa forum grp 12-9-15 sr

OB CAPA members – right after forum. Photo by Steve Rowell.

Police and Councilwoman Zapf Snubbed Meeting

In its first, genuine public display, the opposition to the police surveillance cameras being installed in OB sounded off at last night’s forum. In a packed community room at the OB Rec Center, where over 50 people crowded into the space along with 4 or 5 television cameras and sets of reporters, the group that has led the opposition, Citizens Against Privacy Abuse (CAPA) held its very first community public event.

By all accounts – the forum was very successful, as its structure allowed for nearly an hour and half of public dialogue and discussion of the camera issue, with participants sitting in a wide circle. CAPA organizers had pulled the event off in just over one weeks time – having announced the forum at last week’s Planning Board meeting. Several hundred posters, fliers, human bill-boarding along with petitions and media coverage paid off for the brand new group – which itself was barely one month old.

With a welcome by Kimmie, other CAPA members presented different aspects of the issues at hand, and the audience appeared over the next two hours to be very engaged in the camera controversy. Many new faces had filled the room, having apparently been galvanized to attend the forum out of concerns on the issue. By far most in the room over that time expressed their opposition to the cameras. It seemed there was only a handful of proponents – a very different scene than the Planning Board meeting.

But in an apparent snub to CAPA and the camera opposition in general, both the police department and Councilwoman Lorie Zapf’s office refused to send representatives.  Just the day before the forum, SDPD community relations officer David Surwilo had indicated his confirmation in attending the event. But by the next day – Wednesday – the day of the forum, both Lt Carter – Surwilo’s superior – and Zapf’s office sent CAPA emails stating they were unable to attend.  Zapf’s office said that their rep had a prior commitment, and Lt Carter in essence claimed that there had been sufficient public presentations by the police already.

CAPA organizers were very disappointed that neither the police or Zapf could send representatives. It was pointed out in the evening’s discussion that there had been 5 uniformed police officers at last weeks Planning Board meeting – where the forum was announced -, and that there had been 11 uniformed officers at the cutting down of the OB Christmas tree up on the hill on Brighton Avenue. Officer Surwilo had stated several times over the last month at other public meetings that he would be willing to attend any forum organized by the OB Rag or others.

Yet, despite the snubs, CAPA members were very pleased with the turnout of OBceans, and along with mainly positive TV coverage of the meeting, felt that the organization had brought the issue of the surveillance cameras and the threats to privacy to the community. It seems to them that the more people in OB hear about the cameras, the more opposition to their installation there is.

Up until now, Zapf’s office has making statements that claim that they’ve only heard of one opponent to the cameras. CAPA members urged everyone present to call or email Zapf’s office to counter those numbers and let their voices be heard by the political representative.

CAPA has said that they will be organizing a series of forums – with the next one planned for January. But, the problem is – the cameras are still on track for installation – with projected time frames of “first of the year” the main date that OBceans hear. Organizers said that they want Zapf or the police to postpone the cameras until more of the community has heard about them – and cancel the project altogether.

The more pressure that Zapf and the police feel to slow down the cameras, the more likelihood the project will be stalled.

CAPA will be holding another meeting for interested newcomers. If interested, email CAPA : obcapa@gmail.com .

Here is the mainstream media coverage of the meeting:


Ocean Beach is about to multiply the number of security cameras to protect the community against crime, but some residents complain it feels like a case of big brother.  A plan to make Ocean Beach safer by installing security cameras was met with resistance at a forum on Wednesday night. Other beaches have them and now ten cameras are about to go up in Ocean Beach.  At an outspoken forum Wednesday night, plenty of Ocean Beach residents said it would be too much surveillance and they want their privacy.  …


The community of Ocean Beach is divided over the installation of ten new surveillance cameras by year’s end.  Privacy activists were angry when police and City Councilmember Lorie Zapf canceled their appearances at a town hall meeting Wednesday evening. Activists say the cameras, which will stretch from Dog Beach to the Newport Avenue pier, will threaten their free way of life in Ocean Beach. “Big Brother, the surveillance society — these are real concerns,” said resident Frank Gormlie, an attorney. “We had not had any input. There was a lack of notice, lack of community input, debate or discussion about the cameras and all of a sudden, they’re coming in.” …


A group in Ocean Beach is trying to stop police from installing surveillance cameras.  During a meeting Wednesday night, the ‘Ocean Beach Citizens Against Privacy Abuse’ or ‘OBCAPA’ say the cameras violate their right to privacy and that they weren’t given a say in the decision to get the security cameras. At the OB Recreation Center around 40 people discussed a plan by San Diego police to install surveillance cameras. …

Here is an earlier report from KPBS:

A group of residents question whether police cameras are the right fit for Ocean Beach. Police plan to install 10 security cameras from Newport Avenue to Dog Beach in Ocean Beach. The money comes from $25,000 set aside by City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf. Not everyone thinks the cameras are in line with the community’s relaxed image. “This is Ocean Beach and this is America,” said Rick Callejon of Ocean Beach Citizens Against Privacy Abuse. “We really don’t want to be like London, where people are being recorded everywhere, constantly.”

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie December 10, 2015 at 8:22 pm

I hope to post a more comprehensive summary of the forum very soon.


Old Hippie December 10, 2015 at 8:25 pm

Looks like a bunch of old hippies organized the forum.


OB Joe December 10, 2015 at 8:27 pm

OB is full of them there old hippies. Hopefully, the powers that be will get the message that OB is not together on this, there is no consensus, and the CCTVs should not go in until there is.


Old Hippie December 10, 2015 at 8:28 pm

So, why is it that it’s the old hippies that don’t want the cameras and everybody else does?


Frank Gormlie December 11, 2015 at 12:31 pm

I’m the youngest one in the photo


OB Joe December 10, 2015 at 8:29 pm

There were quite a good number of younger members of the community at the forum, so it’s not just older hipsters and politicos who are outraged by the cameras.


Old Hippie December 10, 2015 at 8:48 pm

Why is it that it’s mainly survivors of the sixties who are “engaged” about the camera issue? Where are young people? Okay, so there were some younger OBcians at the meeting, that’s great. But – please answer the larger question: where are the youth of OB when the community is faced with such an as issue as the cameras?


Old Hippie December 10, 2015 at 8:49 pm

I mean the average age of the people in the photo of CAPA activists must be 62.


Dave December 10, 2015 at 10:00 pm

It could be that younger residents have a harder time establishing themselves in the community or don’t imagine themselves staying long enough to ever really be a part of it . If you didn’t already own your home 20 years ago and you don’t have a job paying well into the six figures, you’re probably never going to be able to settle in OB – at best most of us will bounce around for a decade or so until rising rents and shrinking rental availability drives us out.

Those that can afford to be a part of the new OB are busy working crazy hours, establishing careers that will allow them to buy $700,000 cottages. Maybe when they’re 60 if they’re not too burned out they’ll have time to get involved in a more meaningful way.

Either that or they’re just out bar-hopping.


Marc Snelling December 11, 2015 at 5:34 am

It’s the first one.


OB Dude December 11, 2015 at 8:41 am

Young people are stuck to their phones (and bars)…twitter it and offer brew and they might come.


Marc Snelling December 12, 2015 at 5:51 am

When lots of young people were involved in activism in OB in the 2000s it didn’t take anything in particular to get participation. The majority of those people no longer live in OB – housing costs are a big factor. Even then it took living two to a bedroom for many people to afford OB and it’s worse since then.


Belief December 10, 2015 at 9:41 pm

There were no younger people who came out to speak in favor of the cameras, That’s none, as in not any. If the cameras are popular with them they didn’t show up to say that.


Larry N Maggard December 11, 2015 at 7:13 am

Elected officials & City/County/State/Federal employees work for We the People; our tax dollars fund their paychecks. We the People’s interests and wishes are being ignored. So, why are these people being paid? Why do they still have their jobs?
Abolish the Federal Government!


Taxation without Representation December 11, 2015 at 9:38 am

Zapf always snubs meetings in Ocean Beach.


Cliff House December 11, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Why take chances with the well being and safety of our citizens of OB? This would be a PERFECT place for a terrorist or a group of them to blend in with OB. I think we should have the camera’s.


30something December 11, 2015 at 6:32 pm

The younger generation might learn to appreciate freedom more when they no longer have any.


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