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Solvang City Council votes against $50K system to record data on every Mission Drive motorist
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Solvang City Council votes against $50K system to record data on every Mission Drive motorist

From the What you need to know for Wednesday, October 28 series
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Solvang will not be surveilled.

During its Monday meeting, the Solvang City Council voted 3-2 not to implement license plate readers that could record data on every motorized vehicle entering and exiting the city via Mission Drive.

Council members also gave city staff general direction to arrange regional workshops to discuss the potential health, privacy and connectivity impacts of 5G network implementation.

“I don’t want cameras everywhere. I’m anti-surveillance, anti-5G. I don’t want my life under a microscope 24/7,” Councilman Daniel Johnson said.

“It already is,” interjected Mayor Pro Tem Robert Clarke, who requested the city consider the license plate readers.

“That’s great. I don’t want to propagate it, so I’m a hard ‘no,’” Johnson replied.

Councilwoman Karen Waite and Mayor Ryan Toussaint voted with Johnson in the 3-2 decision to abandon the $50,000 system in its infancy with Clarke and Councilman Chris Djernaes voting against its rejection.

City Manager Xenia Bradford said Clarke had requested, with general support from the council, a look into license plate readers and surveillance cameras.

Clarke said his interest in installing surveillance cameras stemmed from discussions with law enforcement officers as well as his own firsthand observations during ride-alongs.

“I’ve seen the things they have to deal with on a nightly basis. I’ve seen eight, nine meth pipes on a Saturday night on Copenhagen … Police say cameras can help them,” Clarke said.

The proposed system, which would involve a $22,000 annual maintenance expenditure, called for the installation of four cameras on Mission Drive that had the potential to provide license plate recognition, data and analytics, facial recognition, ballistic analysis, crime mapping and analytics, campus safety solutions, parking enforcement solutions and corporate security solutions.

The information also could be used for marketing research. ZIP codes related to license plate registrations could tell Solvang where its visitors travel from, but the company hasn’t yet worked through legalities tied to the California Consumer Privacy Act, Bradford said.

Three members of the public chimed in via telephone and internet conferencing to voice opposition to the system.

Djernaes pointed out the irony in Clarke’s request, given his response minutes earlier opposing the 5G networking system after an informational presentation by Solvang resident Michael Mendizza.

“I’ve done my homework … I agree with Michael,” said Clarke, adding, “I think we should try and slow this down.”

As he had during countless public comment periods, Mendizza expressed concern about “huge environmental and health concerns” as well as a perceived potential for breach of privacy with cellular communications systems. In his agendized comments, he focused largely on the latest 5G network.

Mendizza claimed the 5G network “is an essential piece of the puzzle” that “enables global wireless surveillance, data mining, automated artificial intelligence-managed population control systems 24/7 with no place to hide or opportunity to opt out.”

“I’m saying that the peer-reviewed research is quite clear: Masks serve no function to reduce infection; mandatory masks are a prelude to mandatory vaccines, mandatory RF chipping, mandatory surveillance passports and tracking, and 5G is again the piece of the puzzle that makes that happen," Mendizza said. "If they don’t have the 5G in place, these automated surveillance things can’t happen.” 

Citizens Monday requested the Solvang City Council censure Councilman Chris Djernaes after he was seen cheering on and exchanging contact information with PETA protesters Oct. 10, in what Solvang Trolley & Carriage Co.’s owners characterized as ongoing discriminatory harassment of their business.

He supported Safe G, which depends upon existing fiber optics technology, over cellular technology and a related network of what he claimed included antennas on “nearly every lamp post, utility poles, beaming hazardous radiation into homes, businesses, workplaces” at every moment as well as 50,000 orbiting satellites that “will create a radiation net around the planet.”

“The key here is also that these systems are designed to be implanted in us. The RF chips or the computer chips are planned to be inserted in human beings so they can be monitored, their biology can be monitored 24/7, and this is not in the future; this is happening now,” Mendizza said.

“You have to be a moron to think the government won’t use these things to reach into your life because that’s all they want to do,” Johnson said.

“It is funny … I’m against all this AI, and I know on a daily basis everybody's photographed 67 times anywhere they go in a town … but law enforcement wants this; that’s why I brought it up,” Clarke said.

In other action, the City Council:

— Heard requests from Ingeborg’s Chocolates owner Kim Jensen and Lions Peak Vineyard and Tasting Room owner Jennifer Arant imploring the council not to impose costly investments in temporary exterior furnishings. “My business, where I’ve been successful in this community for 16 years, is down $60,000 this year. I am not in the position, for a temporary measure, to go out and spend $8,000 to $10,000,” Arant said.

— Approved a cooperative agreement with Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) to receive $600,000 in Measure A circulation funding for the South Alisal Road Pavement Reconstruction Project, and authorized execution of the agreement by the city manager.

— Agreed to work with Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office to start a trial program for traffic enforcement focusing on morning and afternoon commuter violations.

In addition, city staff announced the Solvang Visitors Center will reopen Nov. 1. The city also has posted a survey on its website seeking public input on the proposed hotel vs. apartment project at the highly debated Old Lumberyard/Mission Drive/Ed St. George property.

 

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