News

Portola Valley: Council approves plan to install license plate-reading cameras

Community policies vary widely in the United States on just how long to keep criminal surveillance photos of license plates taken by license plate-reading cameras. In New Hampshire, photos not linked to a crime are supposed to be deleted after three minutes, whereas in New Jersey, they're kept for five years, according to a presentation prepared by Portola Valley Town Manager Jeremy Dennis.

Such cameras are coming to Portola Valley and the photos they take -- available to deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office -- will be on file for a year in a database operated by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. The intelligence center is a law enforcement cooperative funded by the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative and one of 78 so-called fusion centers located around the country, many in major urban areas.

The Town Council voted 4-0 on Wednesday, March 22, with Councilman John Richards absent, to approve an ordinance that includes authorizing an allocation of $265,000 for the purchase and installation of the cameras, an agreement with Vigilant Solutions of Livermore for camera purchase and service, and a memo of understanding with the intelligence center for database and investigation services.

Installation, which includes poles and electrical and wi-fi connections, is expected to take 16 to 18 weeks, Mr. Dennis said in the report.

The council's decision reflects the sense of alarm that came to this semi-rural and upscale community following two brutal and unprecedented home-invasion robberies, one in June 2016 and another in October 2016.

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Residents have set up at least 10 neighborhood watch groups, and sheriff's deputies have made themselves available for community meetings on home security. The town's Architectural & Site Control Commission is studying how to revise residential design guidelines to reflect greater concern for home security.

The council previously debated the question of license plate-reading cameras at least three times before the robberies occurred, always coming down on the side of wait-and-see, given a lack of evidence of the cameras' consistent effectiveness in actually helping to solve crimes. But the two robberies, particularly the October 2016 incident in which a resident was reportedly injured, changed things.

After the October robbery, Mr. Dennis surveyed residents with a one-question poll: "Do you support the purchase of automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) for use in Portola Valley?"

Of 742 responses, 583 (or 78 percent) said "yes," Mr. Dennis said at the time. One-hundred-thirty-seven residents answered "no," and 14 did not express an opinion, he said.

Mr. Dennis's report proposed up to four cameras: at the border with Woodside, at Alpine Road and Westridge Drive, at Alpine and Arastradero Road, and at Arastradero and the original Alpine Road that runs along the southern side of Los Trancos Creek in Santa Clara County and connects to Creek Park Drive in Portola Valley.

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Two of the cameras may prove unnecessary, however.

The unincorporated community of Ladera sits between Portola Valley and Interstate 280. Mr. Dennis reported that it's likely that the camera at Westridge and Alpine will be unnecessary in that the county would buy and install one east on Alpine Road. Such a camera would capture traffic into and out of Ladera as well as Portola Valley. The county would pay for that camera, reducing Portola Valley's costs by about $74,000.

The camera planned for Arastradero and Alpine roads will be sensitive enough to also capture traffic entering and leaving the intersection at old Alpine Road, Mr. Dennis said.

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Portola Valley: Council approves plan to install license plate-reading cameras

by Dave Boyce / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 11:37 am

Community policies vary widely in the United States on just how long to keep criminal surveillance photos of license plates taken by license plate-reading cameras. In New Hampshire, photos not linked to a crime are supposed to be deleted after three minutes, whereas in New Jersey, they're kept for five years, according to a presentation prepared by Portola Valley Town Manager Jeremy Dennis.

Such cameras are coming to Portola Valley and the photos they take -- available to deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office -- will be on file for a year in a database operated by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. The intelligence center is a law enforcement cooperative funded by the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative and one of 78 so-called fusion centers located around the country, many in major urban areas.

The Town Council voted 4-0 on Wednesday, March 22, with Councilman John Richards absent, to approve an ordinance that includes authorizing an allocation of $265,000 for the purchase and installation of the cameras, an agreement with Vigilant Solutions of Livermore for camera purchase and service, and a memo of understanding with the intelligence center for database and investigation services.

Installation, which includes poles and electrical and wi-fi connections, is expected to take 16 to 18 weeks, Mr. Dennis said in the report.

The council's decision reflects the sense of alarm that came to this semi-rural and upscale community following two brutal and unprecedented home-invasion robberies, one in June 2016 and another in October 2016.

Residents have set up at least 10 neighborhood watch groups, and sheriff's deputies have made themselves available for community meetings on home security. The town's Architectural & Site Control Commission is studying how to revise residential design guidelines to reflect greater concern for home security.

The council previously debated the question of license plate-reading cameras at least three times before the robberies occurred, always coming down on the side of wait-and-see, given a lack of evidence of the cameras' consistent effectiveness in actually helping to solve crimes. But the two robberies, particularly the October 2016 incident in which a resident was reportedly injured, changed things.

After the October robbery, Mr. Dennis surveyed residents with a one-question poll: "Do you support the purchase of automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) for use in Portola Valley?"

Of 742 responses, 583 (or 78 percent) said "yes," Mr. Dennis said at the time. One-hundred-thirty-seven residents answered "no," and 14 did not express an opinion, he said.

Mr. Dennis's report proposed up to four cameras: at the border with Woodside, at Alpine Road and Westridge Drive, at Alpine and Arastradero Road, and at Arastradero and the original Alpine Road that runs along the southern side of Los Trancos Creek in Santa Clara County and connects to Creek Park Drive in Portola Valley.

Two of the cameras may prove unnecessary, however.

The unincorporated community of Ladera sits between Portola Valley and Interstate 280. Mr. Dennis reported that it's likely that the camera at Westridge and Alpine will be unnecessary in that the county would buy and install one east on Alpine Road. Such a camera would capture traffic into and out of Ladera as well as Portola Valley. The county would pay for that camera, reducing Portola Valley's costs by about $74,000.

The camera planned for Arastradero and Alpine roads will be sensitive enough to also capture traffic entering and leaving the intersection at old Alpine Road, Mr. Dennis said.

--

Comments

whatever
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 23, 2017 at 2:46 pm
whatever, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 23, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Welcome to Big Brother.

Are these cameras only looking at the vehicle license plates or are they also looking at the color and ethnicity of the vehicle drivers and passengers.

Truly a sad state of fear mongering.


Ben F
Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 23, 2017 at 2:58 pm
Ben F, Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 23, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Wait until this backfires on some PV family...

Not much business to drive away from PV, but this is a good start.


whatever
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 23, 2017 at 3:05 pm
whatever, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 23, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Forgot to add.
No more shopping at Roberts or the hardware store. No more beer and burgers at Zotts. No more trips to one of the nicest libraries around. No more visiting the Sequoias for events. No more visiting an NSA town.
A sad state of affairs when an entire town doesn't trust anyone.


SteveC
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 23, 2017 at 4:38 pm
SteveC, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Mar 23, 2017 at 4:38 pm

Menlo Park residents. Passed a MPPD vehicle lately???? That's right!! cameras!!!!


Ben F
Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:03 pm
Ben F, Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:03 pm

"That's right!! cameras!!!!"

But if like body cameras, they're always turned off.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:27 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Don't know what you're all worried about. No right to privacy in public.


Just Following Orders
another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:35 pm
Just Following Orders, another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:35 pm

"Don't know what you're all worried about. No right to privacy in public."

Sieg Heil.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:41 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:41 pm

just follow orders:

cute. Care to make a substantive argument against the FACT I stated?


Just Following Orders
another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:43 pm
Just Following Orders, another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:43 pm

"cute. Care to make a substantive argument against the FACT I stated?"

Facts? Facts?

When you actually have facts to present to us, let us know.

Until then, go ahead and worship Big Brother for us.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:49 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:49 pm

just following orders:

It is long established case law that no one has a right to privacy while in public. You know, in PUBLIC? Where anyone can see you? You know, like not being in your home where you would have an actual expectation of privacy? You know how being in public works, right?


Just Following Orders
another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:53 pm
Just Following Orders, another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:53 pm

There's also something called "probable cause." Ever heard of that?

How do you know if the police will use the license-plate readers to target people *without* probable cause?

For someone who claims to be a Libertarian, you sure do show a lot of love for Big Brother type of operations.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2017 at 6:02 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Mar 23, 2017 at 6:02 pm

just following orders:

you seem to have a tenuous grasp of the US Constitution and the case law involved with it. Probable cause only applies if you are being searched or stopped. Recording your license plate doesn't constitute a "search". You do understand there are cameras everywhere in public now and the police routinely collect that video when there is a crime?


Just Following Orders
another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 6:47 pm
Just Following Orders, another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 6:47 pm

"you seem to have a tenuous grasp of the US Constitution and the case law involved with it. Probable cause only applies if you are being searched or stopped. Recording your license plate doesn't constitute a "search"."

For someone who never went to law school, you sure act as though you know the law.

Once again: How do YOU know that this technology will NOT be used to target people who are not suspects for a possible crime? Want to answer that?

Or are you one of those people who accept everything that someone in authority (especially when they wear a uniform) tells you?


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2017 at 6:59 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Mar 23, 2017 at 6:59 pm

just following orders:

No, I didn't go to law school. I just spent ten years in law enforcement where I learned all about constitutional law. I had to if I wanted to operate within the law and make sure the criminals I arrested went to jail and were convicted.

The readers can't be used to discriminate by race and just how would they target someone not involved in criminal activity? They don't look at anything but license plates. Now, I don't know about you, but I can't tell what color a person's skin is by looking at his or her license plate. Nor can I tell what they are doing besides passing the license plate reader. What exactly can be done to someone not suspected of a crime with the knowledge that a vehicle passed a certain point at a certain time?

What the police can do is find license plates that passed through the area at the same time as a crime. If the vehicle isn't from the area they can do further investigation to see what the owner of said vehicle was doing in the area. The owner of said vehicle can refuse to answer any questions as is their right. If the police have nothing more than a license plate at a certain time they are going to have a very difficult time obtaining any kind of warrant, arrest or search.


Just Following Orders
another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 7:05 pm
Just Following Orders, another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 7:05 pm

"I just spent ten years in law enforcement where I learned all about constitutional law. I had to if I wanted to operate within the law and make sure the criminals I arrested went to jail and were convicted."

If you think that reassures those of here on this discussion board -- trust me, it doesn't.

Look at what has been happening in this country lately as regards law enforcement and use of force and methods (and targets) of arrest, and try and tell me there isn't a problem.

And if you truly believe that these license plate readers will be used *only* to catch the bad guys, then you are a sheep.

Baa baa baa.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2017 at 7:15 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Mar 23, 2017 at 7:15 pm

just following orders:

well, I have actual experience, training and knowledge of how things work. What do you have? Any legal training? Any law enforcement experience? Or just uneducated, uninformed opinion? It's ok if that's all you have, you are entitled to your own opinion. You're not entitled to your own facts.

There is no expectation of privacy while in public. That is a fact.


Keep PV SAFE!
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 23, 2017 at 9:16 pm
Keep PV SAFE!, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 23, 2017 at 9:16 pm

To all of you who live in Menlo Park, you cannot understand how Portola Valley is such a safe town and that robberies like the ones that have occurred recently are ABNORMAL. I know that in Menlo Park robberies and burglaries happen almost daily. However here in PV we want to actually do something about it. So please, can this forum be limited to only residents of Portola Valley please? It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


I agree
Portola Valley: Westridge
on Mar 23, 2017 at 9:21 pm
I agree, Portola Valley: Westridge
on Mar 23, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Why are Menlo Park residents complaining about this? Unless you are a criminal, it will help you guys out as well by catching these thugs! Your town seems to need it... thank us later!!


Just Following Orders
another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 9:22 pm
Just Following Orders, another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 9:22 pm

Want to keep Portola Valley *really* safe? Build a wall around it. A REALLY tall wall -- and make sure that it is topped with barbed wire. And don't forget the land mines, machine gun towers, and patrols with guard dogs.
And make sure you are *completely* self-sustaining. Because if you want to be completely safe, you'll have to cut yourself off completely from the rest of the world.
Either that, or buy some locks to install on your doors.


Keep PV SAFE!
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 23, 2017 at 9:31 pm
Keep PV SAFE!, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 23, 2017 at 9:31 pm

Your reasoning does not make any sense. Who said anything about cutting off access to the outside world? ALPRs are simply just a way to catch criminals who commit such horrendous atrocities, like the recent home invasions. Do you want the criminals to just rob and burglarize any houses they please and get away with it??

To your other point, yes, we could sustain ourselves if we wanted to as we have incredibly resourceful and smart people in this community. However, we are very open minded and would never consider the ridiculous implications you are implying.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 24, 2017 at 7:37 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2017 at 7:37 am

keep PV safe:

not sure if you have problems with reading comprehension, but just to make it clear, I was NOT complaining about LPR's. In fact, I support them. No one has an expectation of privacy while in public.


Keep PV SAFE!
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 24, 2017 at 9:52 am
Keep PV SAFE!, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 24, 2017 at 9:52 am

Do you live in Portola Valley? Because if you don't, please get off this forum when making useless comments like the one above.


Keep PV SAFE!
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 24, 2017 at 10:02 am
Keep PV SAFE!, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 24, 2017 at 10:02 am

Menlo Voter

I agree that ALPRs need to get installed ASAP. I wasn't replying to you I was replying to someone else who was against the installation of these crime prevention tools.


Ben F
Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 24, 2017 at 11:07 am
Ben F, Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 24, 2017 at 11:07 am

To All: please except our profoundest apologies for the alleged PV resident's comments above. We are a friendly and welcoming people, despite the cameras.

We disavow her comments: "Because if you don't, please get off this forum when making useless comments like the one above."

Every neighborhood has a Mrs. Kravitz. Sorry. We support Free Speech and the opinions of all.


Keep PV SAFE!
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 24, 2017 at 12:50 pm
Keep PV SAFE!, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 24, 2017 at 12:50 pm

I also would like to apologize for people who are misinterpreting the comments made on this forum. Portola Valley is a wonderful town and we just want to prevent robberies such as the ones that have occurred recently. I am just disappointed at some Menlo Park residents who are complaining. If you have a problem with the ALPRs being installed then just don't come to PV. Otherwise we are an exceptionally welcoming community where everyone is welcome.

I'm not sure what the person means by "we", the comment above is her opinion and hers alone. I know many people who agree that this is a Portola Valley issue and not a MP issue.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm

keep PV safe:

who died and made you board monitor?


Keep PV SAFE!
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 24, 2017 at 12:59 pm
Keep PV SAFE!, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 24, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Menlo Voter

Please do not come to our town.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 24, 2017 at 1:15 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2017 at 1:15 pm

keep PV safe:

I'll go wherever I want.


Ben F
Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 24, 2017 at 1:28 pm
Ben F, Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 24, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Again:

"To All: please except our profoundest apologies for the alleged PV resident's comments above. We are a friendly and welcoming people, despite the cameras."

And you-know-who. It's been a bad week for the fear-spreaders. Just look at Fox, and Trump.


Keep PV Safe!
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 24, 2017 at 2:02 pm
Keep PV Safe!, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 24, 2017 at 2:02 pm

Menlo Voter-if that means anywhere but PV then good for you!

Ben F-please apologize to the residents and fellow neighbors of PV for your senseless and hurtful comments. You are implying that we are not welcoming, which is FALSE and WRONG. Don't give other communities a bad impression of who we are. Also, this isn't a political discussion, so let's focus on the real issue here: the ALPRs and stopping crime in Portola Valley!


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 24, 2017 at 2:12 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2017 at 2:12 pm

keep PV safe:

no, I go to Portola Valley with great regularity. You certainly don't come off as "welcoming". I know many people in PV and none of them would tell me to stay out of their town.


Keep PV SAFE!
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 24, 2017 at 2:16 pm
Keep PV SAFE!, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 24, 2017 at 2:16 pm

My point is, we are extremely welcoming to friends, family, etc. living outside the town who come to visit. However, we are NOT welcoming to those who wish to rob, burglarize, threaten, or commit crimes who live outside the area. See the difference?


Ben F
Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 24, 2017 at 2:34 pm
Ben F, Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 24, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Okay, not welcoming to "Others". Yes, we all know what that means these days.

Nice use of code.

Ever hear the phrase "stop digging"?


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