Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gates and Cameras

Tonight there was a workshop on the subject of gating Treasure Island, along with a discussion about the planned implementation of closed circuit television cameras (CCTV).   Sound familiar?  It should.  About every three years, a number of residents gather together and demand that Treasure Island be gated.  There's a lot of noise and then they walk away and nothing happens.  

For this one, the city is not to blame.  The county designs the gate program and it goes like this. 

1.)  An incorporated home owner's association with the majority of members in the area to be gated requests the county to create a special taxing district.  Alternatively, if 10% of the homesteaded owners in the proposed area petition for a gate, the county will consider it.  

2.)  The county will then review the petition for the special tax district and check to see if the geography and the demography will allow for it.  

3.)  The county commission will vote on it.  

4.)  The county will study and accept proposals on it.  

5.)  An election is held and 60% of the homesteaded owners must vote yes.  

6.)  Then the gates are built and the additional taxes levied.  

There is no homeowner's association here and based on the people that I saw at the meeting, nobody seemed to be particularly willing to volunteer to create one.  Or to start a petition drive.  Or do any of the hard work this requires.   I may be wrong but I don't see anyone stepping up to lead this.  

If they do, I'm not sure I'll support it.  There have been crimes in the neighborhood, some of them really awful, and that needs to be addressed.  But I don't believe that safety should be privatized, set aside for certain homes and not for others. 

I much prefer the proposals for CCTV, which would read every license as cars come and go from NBV, would provide a wide view of key intersections and are actually the prime resource when there are crimes on our gated neighboring island.  It's effective, inexpensive and covers the whole city without imposing new taxes.    

Similarly, it is a well established fact the community crime prevention works.   When people sign up for Crime Watch, hold the police accountable and watch out for their neighbors, ordinary crime declines.   But it takes people to actually do it.  People who are willing to spend the time being educated on the subject, willing to attend meetings and trainings, willing to hold lemonade parties on their lawn to get to know the neighbors, willing to criticize and help the police. 

The meeting tonight did not show that promise.  No one had read the clearly laid path to gating, people were just speaking randomly.   I hope the cameras go through.  They matter.  But if you want gates, you need to start working for them.   Nobody's going to do it for you.  

Kevin Vericker
June 13, 2013

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