OB Police Cameras Update – January 2016

by on January 13, 2016 · 10 comments

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

surveillancecamerasHere are some of the latest in the ever-evolving controversy over the City’s planned installation of 10 police surveillance cameras along OB’s waterfront.

Camera Opponents to Do PR at Foot of Newport – Sunday, Jan. 17th

CAPA – Citizens Against Privacy Abuse – the local OB group that formed in opposition to the cameras last Fall, will be doing some PR work this Sunday, Jan. 17th.  At noon, the group will set up a card table with signs at Veterans’ Plaza at the foot of Newport, to “take the temperature” as it were of locals on the issue of the cameras.

CAPA Members Sound Off at City Council Comment Period in Effort to Get Zapf’s Attention

On Monday, January 11th, during the non-agenda comment period at the San Diego City Council meeting, several CAPA members made statements in opposition to the police cameras. The OB locals particularly aimed their statements at Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, in an effort to get her attention. Zapf has refused to meet with the group and snubbed her nose at the community by not attending a recent forum on the police cameras.

OB Town Council Gives “Qualified” Support to Cameras “For One Year”

Near the end of 2015, the OB Town Council issued their position on the installation of the police surveillance cameras by taking a very qualified stand in favor of the cameras – but only for one year. The vote in favor was not unanimous; it requests that police and Councilwoman Zapf’s office –

“to revisit the effectiveness of the cameras in one year and to share with the OBTC and our community an analysis of crime statistics in the affected and surrounding areas and a summary of how many crimes were addressed in connection with the cameras.”

During their private monthly meeting in December, the Board apparently took the issue up, held a discussion, took their vote  – which their position states explicitly was not unanimous – and issued their statement. However, the Board did this without hearing from opponents of the cameras. And very few Board members attended the community forum on the cameras.

Mission Beach Cameras Cited by Police Have Not Been Monitored for Over 5 Years

When San Diego police representatives have given speeches in favor of the installation of the cameras in OB, they usually cite other neighborhoods who have them – and Mission Beach is mentioned. Yet, over five years ago, local mainstream media reported that the 5 surveillance cameras installed at a cost of $100,000 at Belmont Park and South Mission Beach, “… are still rolling, but San Diego police are no longer staffing their camera system at Mission Beach.” After several years of watching, police stopped monitoring them.

In a May 5, 2010 broadcast, abc10reported:

Police said money in the form of budget cuts was one reason for the move and officers could be doing more important things. “It wouldn’t be the most effective use of one of our officers,” said San Diego Police Captain Chris Ball.

He said the number of incidents requiring a real-time response did not justify tying up officers 24/7. If the department had enough personnel to monitor the cameras, said Ball, they would be more a effective weapon against crime.

The same broadcast included a segment where this writer was interviewed and quoted:

Frank Gormlie, the editor of the The Ob Rag blog, said the cameras are an invasion of privacy and a lack of monitoring them makes the cameras a waste of money. “It’s ludicrous and ridiculous,”he said.

Meanwhile, Carlsbad Switches Off Park Surveillance Cameras Due to Legal Issues

Back in mid-December, the City of Carlsbad switched off as many as 30 surveillance cameras that had been installed at Carlsbad’s new Alga Norte Community Park, the San Diego U-T reported. The city made the move due to legal concerns.

The cameras had gone up at the 32-acre park during its construction. The park – considered “the crown of the city’s park system” with ball fields, courts, an aquatics center, playgrounds, picnic tables, a dog park,

but they have been turned off while a team of city employees studies how and whether they should be used. The team includes staff from the city’s parks, police, city attorney and information technology departments. … Among the key questions are privacy concerns and how long the city would need to store the digital video recorded by the cameras …. who sees the footage and when….

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin H January 13, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Capa, please leave your tinfoil hats at home and focus on informing the public about how useless these unmonitored systems are, and why money should not be wasted on them. Consider that most people think they will be safer with cameras, and seem to be cool with passive surveillance. OBPB’s idea to wait a year to figure out won’t work is plain stupid, by then money is already spent…


Kevin H January 13, 2016 at 12:29 pm

correction: i mean OBTC


Colin January 13, 2016 at 1:00 pm

By your reckoning, then, Kevin, the City of Carlsbad team of staff from Parks, Police, City Attorney, and IT thought, is “tinfoil hats”. And “most people think they will be safer with cameras” is a problematic assertion, at best.


Kevin H January 14, 2016 at 7:11 pm

Trust me I don’t like it or agree with it, but I do believe its the sad reality we have to contend with.


Cholly January 14, 2016 at 8:15 am

Frank & Readers,

If you’re able to get a copy, read the front page of this morning’s Union-Tribune. Down at the lower left-hand corner there’s an article on how the San Diego Police Department can check anybody’s cell phone. The camera imbroglio, has turned into an exceptionally childish “spitting” contest, “Na, na, na, da, na, na.” The group that has pledged their tentative support is no doubt very much aware of the financial support it gets from the City, which, obviously, renders their two-cents utterly worthless. It’s sad that the majority of law enforcement officers have to take the rap for the immaturity of a few stubborn ninnies in the top echelons.


Larry N Maggard January 14, 2016 at 12:07 pm

We wouldn’t be having this conversation if SDPD weren’t ineffective so what if we eliminate 1 cop for each camera installed? Think of the savings to us tax payers.

Read your United States Constitution


michael-leonard January 15, 2016 at 9:09 am

When are the people with “privacy issues” gonna learn that on a public street there is NO expectation of privacy. I mean, what part of “public” isn’t clear?


Kevin H January 15, 2016 at 10:56 am

Legal or not, most are not welcome to the intrusion of being under surveillance. They have only warmed up to the cameras because of the SDPD’s assurance that it will reduce crime and that the cameras won’t be monitored live.

But ironically, the only way the cameras would reduce crime and justify the cost, is if they were monitored live.

SDPD is a public entity, they work for us. They can’t go do whatever they want without answering to the public.


Colin January 15, 2016 at 1:39 pm

“Public” does not therefore mean that public or private entities are thus entitled to, or legally permitted to, any and all surveillance of people or activities therein.


Geoff Page January 19, 2016 at 10:51 am

This has nothing to do with the SDPD. This is Lori Zapf reacting to the owners of the new expensive condos on Saratoga that overlook the grassy park and to the Merchant’s Association. When people with money and connections squeal, the council members react. Look at what happened at Sunset Cliffs Park. A whole grove of eucalyptus was cut down so there would be visibility across the park, at the behest of the homeowners next to the park. They were disturbed by activities in the park. The public reason given was that this was an invasive species and needed to be replaced by natural plants. That was five or six years ago and no plants yet. The reason Zapf is ignoring the opposition is because the opposition has no money.


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