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Friday, June 8, 2012

Is Big Brother Watching at 37th and Balboa? (Update: It's a SFMTA Parking Project)

UPDATE: Official response from SFMTA here.  Read below for original blog entry.

Just yesterday, I was at Balboa and 37th Avenue after my medical appointment and noticed something odd on the southwest corner of the block.  In front of the bank and pizza place was this odd looking closed circuit camera up about 20-30 feet above the street.

If you are thinking it was attached to a lamppost or electrical pole, it wasn't.  The two domed cameras was attached to a long metal pole about 20-30 feet long, and the pole was attached to a trailer hitch generator.  If you don't know what a trailer hitch generator is, it's the ones construction crews use to power jackhammers to bust-up pavement, and the big saws that cuts through the pavement.

Strangely, these portable camera systems did not have any markings indicating it was owned by the city government, SFMTA, or the police.  The generator was painted red and had a sign on the meter saying it was a designated temporary tow-away zone (the same signs you find at street fairs and marathon routes).

I also found the same camera device on Sunday on West Portal Avenue about a half block away from the metro station.

Earlier this morning, I thought I'd give my local police station, the SFPD Richmond station a call to find out what's going on.  I explained to the person on the phone basically everything you are reading above, and he had no clue about what it was or where to refer me to.

I was thinking it was related to the recent news stories about Muni's plans to put new behavior detection cameras along the metro system, but 37th and Balboa is not along a metro line, it's just a small business district.

But having a hunch it may have been Muni's idea (since they enforce parking and put tow away signs), I e-mailed Paul Rose of the SFMTA for information.  As of right now, he's checking on it, but I haven't received any further information.

Does anyone know about this?  Leave a comment.

UPDATE: After the Giants game, I went to the camera location to take some photos of it.  You'll notice the slideshow on the top of the blog entry.  I took a good look at everything and the sign on the meter says it is for the SFMTA's parking program as some kind of survey tool.

But it's still odd there's just a little sign saying that, and nothing posted on the generator saying what the purpose is.  Some may assume it's there to watch over crime for the cops, others may say it's an invasion of privacy by looking through a neighbor's window.  Whatever it is, it still feels kinda creepy to me.

However, I have not received any official info from the SFMTA about this project.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My initial guess was that SFMTA was doing something (maybe SFPark related). Please do keep us informed!