WeHo City Council Approves Test of Public Safety Cameras After Complaints About the Length of the Process


The West Hollywood City Council last night approved a pilot program that calls for testing security cameras at four locations in the city.

The approval came with criticism from Mayor John Heilman and council members John D’Amico and Lindsey Horvath about the length of time it has taken City Hall to begin installing such cameras. Heilman also objected to the fact that these installations, for a period of nine months, are only a test.

“I would like us to stop studying and just do it,” Heilman said.

A memo to the City Council from West Hollywood’s Economic Development and Public Safety departments describes the two-and-a-half year process for launching a test of possible cameras.

The City Council voted in December 2015 to direct the city’s Public Safety Commission and the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station to study the possibility of installing video systems in public areas. The Public Safety Commission established a subcommittee to study the feasibility of such a program, its possible cost and where such cameras should be installed. In September 2016, the City Council authorized the city’s Public Safety Department to request proposals from contractors who would evaluate the capabilities and costs for cameras in public places and design such a program. Two months later, the Public Safety Department reached out to seek such proposals, with a deadline of Jan. 5, 2017. It received 13 responses and narrowed the list to two qualified applicants, who it later decided were not satisfactory.

Six months later, in June 2017, the project was transferred from the Public Safety Department to the city’s Innovation Division, which was working on a plan to “weave technology into the city’s infrastructure. ” The Innovation Division researched possibilities, which included interview public safety officials in Beverly Hills, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and the federal Department of Homeland Security. Last month the City Council approved the proposed “Smart City Strategic Plan” and asked that the division come back in 30 days with a proposal for the test project.

A document from the Innovation Division says that City Hall plans to release the requests for proposals immediately with a deadline of April 24 for submission. It will screen them and select four firms in the middle of May and sign contracts in June, with the goal of having the rest cameras up in July.

The test cameras will be installed on Santa Monica Boulevard at the intersections with Robertson, San Vicente and La Cienega boulevards and La Brea Avenue. City Manager Paul Arevalo responded to the questions about the need for a test by saying that while there are standard cameras available, ” there are liability and logistics issues regarding maintenance” and the city is seeking “a model that provides us flexibility.”

Among the factors it will consider in making a final choice are ease of installation and maintenance, the projected cost for expanding the camera network to other parts of the city, the quality and reliability of the video feed, its accessibility by West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station and its effectiveness in fighting crime and increasing public safety. The test program is expected to cost $40,000.

“There better be some cameras up by July 1 or otherwise I’ll be angry,” said Councilmember Horvath before joining Mayor Heilman and council members D’Amico, Horvath and Lauren Meister in voting for the proposal. City Councilmember John Duran was absent.

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Eric Jon Schmidt
5 years ago

I will be at that meeting Ruth. Thank you for asking the question. Erik

Connect the dots
Connect the dots
5 years ago

Consider how far the funds for the Robo Garage could have gone in solving our traffic and safety issues which affect most residents and does not require a summit of PhD’s. Logic and efficiency in connecting the dots seems a concept lost on staff at City Hall. Too many are highly paid for moving files from one side of the desk to the other in addition to frequently scheduling many outside consultants. One wonders what the job description is for staff presumably hired for their expertise. One also wonders if they lack confidence in their own abilities subsequently protracted group… Read more »

Michael G.
Michael G.
5 years ago

Watching the WEHO City Council meeting last night and sympathizing with the council members questioning the inept staff members made me think of the one person who should be conjured up, Donald Trump.

So the frustrated elected officials could shout: “You’re fired” at the pathetic collection of overly paid bureaucrats running West Hollywood.

Eric Jon Schmidt
5 years ago

Of the four cameras, why is there only one camera on the Eastside where much of the crime occurs. Why is the Eastside always treated like the Ugly Stepchild of the City?

Ruth Williams
Ruth Williams
5 years ago

At my recent Commission meeting held in Fiesta Hall the very question I asked was “why do we on the eastside only have the one camera when one is desperately needed at the Fairfax/Santa Monica Blvd intersection?” Staff assured us that it would be taken under consideration and that the Innovations Division will be presenting an update to the Public Safety Commission at the April meeting. I encourage you and anyone else to attend our April 9th meeting at 6:30 pm that will be held in Plummer Park rooms 5 & 6 and URGE that intersection have a camera.

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