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Some HHPNC Members Cold on Security Cameras

The board has the time to purchase the security system, but some members seem to lack the inclination.

Some HHPNC Members Cold on Security Cameras

Last month, it seemed that rising costs and a looming deadline from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment would kill the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council's efforts to install new security camera systems on York Boulevard and Monte Vista Street. 

Now, however, it may be the neighborhood council itself that kills the deal.

At the Thursday, Nov. 15 meeting of the HHPNC, board members heard from Council District 14 field deputy Nate Hayward that the city was not going to impose a hard deadline for them to use the nearly $50,000 encumbered in past year's to pay for the cameras.

"We're going to do everything in our power to give you guys time to make a rational decision. So you don't feel rushed," he said. "Considering the amount of money that's involved, you should be given ample time to do it. So don't panic about the situation."

Even though the board now has the time to purchase the cameras, they may no longer have the inclination.

Board member Gretchen Knudsen questioned whether the community was actually in favor of having the cameras installed.

"Is this something the community actually wants?" Knudsen asked. "I understand that Monte Vista is a high impact area, but it's also an invasion of privacy."

Many of the current HHPNC members were elected in October, and were not sitting on the board when the funds were allocated to purchase the cameras. In addition to the $25,000 set aside by the board in past years, Council District 1 has also contributed approximately $25,000 to the cause.

Former board member Rick Marquez said extensive outreach on the cameras had been done.

"If you live in Highland Park and don't know about this, I don't know what to tell you," Marquez said.

In addition to the $50,000 to purchase the cameras, the board would need to spend up to $10,000 more per-year for maintenance and Internet service.

Stakeholder Harvey Slater said it might not be wise for the board to invest so much in cameras, especially when they were only allowed to deal with one vendor, RD Systems.

"I think everyone agrees that we want safety in our neighborhood, I don't think anyone would say they're okay with people getting killed in our streets. That's not issue. If cameras will get the job done, if that's all we have to resort to, then I guess we have to do it," he said. "But, I'd like to remind everybody that public safety is the job of the city and the police department. It's not the job of the neighborhood council. For the city of Los Angeles to give us half the money we need, to pay for the only vendor we're allowed to pay for in the city of Los Angeles, and then say we have to figure the rest out, that's unacceptable. It sounds more like neighborhood extortion than neighborhood empowerment if you asked me."

Board Member Paul Bonsell disagreed with Slater's argument, saying that not purchasing the cameras would be a step back for the neighborhood.

"If we step back and go the opposite direction, we just leave the door open for the gang's again," Bonsell said. "We have to give the community some backing and let them know that somewhere is there with them beside the police."

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