Supes back surveillance cameras

Pleas for more surveillance cameras from neighborhoods plagued by violence won out Tuesday over concerns about civil liberties — for the time being.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick asked the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to kill funding for 22 additional police surveillance cameras, citing concerns over civil liberties. McGoldrick requested the $273,240 set aside for the cameras be used instead to fund more “community-based anti-violence” programs.

“You’re being looked upon by big brother. I don’t want to live in that world,” McGoldrick said, adding that the cameras were ineffective. “At the very best, they might just be moving crime around the corner,” McGoldrick said.

As The City’s record-setting homicide rate shows no signs of letting up, San Francisco is on track to meet last year’s record 96 murders. Neighborhood groups are demanding relief from The City and see the installation of more cameras as one solution.

There are now 33 surveillance cameras monitoring 14 different city locations in the Bayview, Western Addition, Mission and Bernal Heights neighborhoods, according to David Onek, deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

In the wake of a May 30 shooting of an 11-year-old walking along Addison Street, Supervisor Bevan Dufty is convinced cameras are necessary. “I had 300 people come out clamoring to get cameras on Addison Street to try and bring a situation under control,” Dufty said.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said a “Pandora’s box” is already opened, but indicated the cameras may not be permanent fixtures.

Mirkarimi authored legislation that requires public hearings before a camera is installed, signage around the camera and an evaluation of their effectiveness. The legislation, he said, was designed “to prove they are not effective, and may not be necessary, but we don’t know that yet.”

Meanwhile, The City may get even more cameras. “We are looking for additional funding sources to have grant funding pay for additional cameras,” Onek said.

McGoldrick’s request was defeated in a 9-2 vote.

IN OTHER ACTION

HEALTH ACCESS PLAN APPROVED: The revolutionary San Francisco Health Access Plan, which would provide health care to The City’s 82,000 uninsured, was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors. The plan will provide every San Francisco resident with either employer-provided or city-provided health care. The plan was put together by Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Tom Ammiano. Employers will contribute about $25 million a year to the estimated $200 million health care program.

VOTERS TO DECIDE PARENTAL LEAVE POLICY FOR BOARD: Voters will decide on Nov. 7whether to adopt a parental leave policy for the Board of Supervisors, after the board unanimously approved the charter amendment for the ballot. If approved by voters, supervisors would be allowed to participate in meetings via teleconferencing.

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