Skateboarder at Skatepark

People using the Half Moon Bay skate park will be subject to video surveillance as a result of a new city policy. Review file photo

The city of Half Moon Bay is amending its administrative policy to allow security cameras on its properties, starting with the local skatepark.

Though the plan was announced at the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting last week, it’s expected to apply to any building or equipment owned by the city. City recreation coordinator Edward Behle said the policy change is intended as a safety measure that came about due to numerous complaints from the Cabrillo Unified School District and parents about incidents of fighting and drug use at the Half Moon Bay skatepark over the last several years.

“The more we got into this policy, we decided this is something we not only want to use for the skatepark but leave it open so we can use this policy to put in cameras at other facilities and properties we deem necessary to do,” Behle said.

Under the new policy, the city has the discretion to install external-facing cameras on any city-owned or -operated property it deems necessary for safety. Some of the general provisions for putting in cameras include posting adequate signage and not installing them in places where there’s an expectation of privacy, such as bathrooms. Behle said the city’s administrative services are currently running the policy by stakeholders on city property to make sure there are no contract violations. The policy will go into effect once it’s signed by the city manager, not the City Council.

“We’ll definitely do some outreach before we install the cameras at the skatepark,” Deputy City Manager Matthew Chidester said. “Once people know those cameras are up, that’s a

huge deterrent to bad behavior. There’s a lot of kids who use the community center and the skatepark, and we want to make sure we’re transparent with the community that we’re doing this and why.”

The city must keep the footage for at least one year, and a public record request would be required for anyone seeking the footage. Behle explained to the commission that the videos will be reviewed periodically and not constantly monitored. Commissioner Adam Eisen noted it was important to solicit feedback from people who had concerns over privacy and security. Chidester said that, at the end of the day, the cameras are a matter of public safety and protecting property.

“Because this is on our facility, people have the choice,” he said. “If people don’t like the fact that we’re using cameras, they’ll share their feedback, but ultimately it’s their choice to use the facility or not.”

August Howell is a staff writer for the Review covering city government and public safety. Previously, he was the Review’s community, arts and sports reporter. He studied journalism at the University of Oregon.

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