Cameras and Garbage Topics at Council Meeting

By Mikaela STONE

The Glendale City Council meeting, held at the Sparr Heights Community Center on Tuesday, was well-attended as community members came to discuss the AB 645 program currently waiting for the governor’s signature. Should the program go into effect, up to nine automated speed cameras would be placed around Glendale as part of a five-year pilot program to test the effectiveness of such surveillance on speeding. The goal, as the officer present said, is to “reduce collisions before they occur.”

It is hoped these measures in Glendale will lessen street racing and preventable deaths. These cameras would be equipped with a radar to measure the speed of the vehicle. Should a car be going 11 miles per hour or more over the speed limit, the camera would take a picture of the car’s license plate and mail a citation to the registered owner of the vehicle. While the camera removes the element of human fallibility and bias from the traffic stop equation, it also removes the possibility of replacing the citation with a warning in special circumstances.

Citizens present also raised concerns regarding the due process of law as California ruled earlier this year that police body cameras could not take the place of witness testimony in court – a precedent which could potentially extend to speed measuring cameras. Those concerned were reassured that the footage would be reviewed by multiple humans and, just as with the traditional citation, the driver would have three opportunities to appeal. The camera would also be calibrated every five years to prevent “false positives” – that is, taking photos resulting in citations being issued in error.

The main complaints regarding traffic cameras included that their installation is in the interest of the city to rack up as many citations as possible to raise revenue to line its own pockets. Moreover, funds would be directed to recouping the costs of the program and further traffic calming measures. However, additional concerns about privacy and safety were raised within the meeting, many of which were unclear.

Several citizens encouraged the city to conduct more research into how traffic patterns would change should drivers take different routes to avoid the cameras, whether these detours would cause harm to businesses’ customer flow, and whether the issuing of the ticket to the owner of the vehicle rather than the driver would cause deception in traffic courts or, even worse, domestic violence by timestamping a potential driver’s location. Those present were also told that the cameras would not decrease the size of the police force as a camera cannot measure factors affecting the registered owner of the vehicle. However, many citizens seemed hesitant to turn to an automated program as fresh in locals’ minds was the recent traffic stop of a Glendale resident caught with illegal drugs and firearms.

However, some automation was welcomed with open arms as Glendale rolls out a pay-by-phone option for contactless parking meter payments. Glendale residents short on coins had often complained of receiving a parking ticket while in the process of exchanging coins so they could pay the meter. While the meters still retain a coin option for those who prefer it, an app offers features such as remotely extending the amount of time parked without having to rush back and “feed the meter.” With 3,700 people using the app as of last month, the City is working to extend options to a more diverse user base, including increasing the number of languages from which to choose. The app hopes to offer Armenian by 2024.

In Glendale’s quest to make the city carbon neutral by 2045, the council has proposed an organics waste recycling program. The goal is to divert food waste from landfill, recover edible foods and provide organics services to the community. Both the Public Works Integrated Waste Office and the City Council meeting offered attendees a free organics recycling pail that can be used for organic material. Because the program is still relatively new, feedback was appreciated and can continue to be offered on the integrated waste management portion of the site

The program is a tool to combat the 6 million tons of food waste that annually ends up in California landfills and the resultant methane. While there will still be a black bin for trash and a blue bin for recycling, now food waste and food-spoiled paper, such as greasy pizza boxes, can go in the green bin alongside yard trimmings. For those confused, the Recycle Coach app can be downloaded to help differentiate.

The waste management companies Athens, NASA, Southland and WR have already reported that the districts they service are majority compliant. However, the self-reported nature of the graph provided drew mistrust from the City Council. Councilmember Elen Asatryan reported that even her own apartment complex was not compliant because the majority of her neighbors had not received word that details of waste disposal had changed.

She stated, “There has to be better communication between haulers and property managers.”

This was a common complaint among those present with one business owner reporting that while the Athens Services website promises it will provide “resources and training,” it fell to the business owners to realize that the change had been made, as it was reflected in their bills, causing the business owners to take the initiative to contact Athens. The program’s lack of outreach hurts its ultimate goal – to have a well-educated public regarding managing waste. While it remains to be determined when penalties will begin occurring for mismanagement of waste, the quicker the public knows about the organics waste recycling program, the quicker Glendale can make a dent in landfill tonnage.