October 23, 2021

"The neighborhood’s camera opponents argued that the systems were a pointless, Orwellian annoyance they didn’t want greeting them every time they drove home."

"To them, the cameras felt like another step toward mass suburban paranoia, where every once-forgettable slight is now recorded by Ring doorbell cameras, shared on Facebook and discussed endlessly on Nextdoor. But the cameras’ supporters said... [g]oing soft on crime could put their families at risk... and no one on public roads should expect privacy, anyway.... 'You would think we were living in a war zone,' said [Michele] Lawrence, 55. 'We have neighbors who have fortressed their houses in Ring cameras, and it’s gotten them nowhere — and nothing, except this false sense of panic. It creeps me out.'... Tensions boiled over at community meetings, said [David Paul] Appell, who recalled the head of the pro-camera faction screaming that an opponent was 'chusma' — Cuban Spanish for 'low class.' ... Camera supporters griped that opponents were naive, penny-pinching Luddites.... And the critics griped that they were being transformed into a surveillance state thanks largely to one board member notorious for repeatedly — and, to them, unnecessarily — calling the police."

From "License plate scanners were supposed to bring peace of mind. Instead they tore the neighborhood apart/A battle among homeowners in the Colorado mountains shows how a new generation of surveillance technology is reshaping American neighborhoods" (WaPo).

It's hard to know which side is right. Once lots of people — making their own individual decision — have put in Ring doorbells, you're arguing for privacy that's already gone, and it's mostly about money. The article says the license-plate-scanning cameras cost $2,500 a year. What's each person's share of that and how does that loss compare to what you're losing through crime? You're losing peace of mind through crime, even if no one steals anything from your car. But if we're talking about the value of your emotional state, we need to put a dollar amount on the feeling that you've got less privacy, even if your privacy was already shot to hell.

I learned a new word, "chusma." From the Urban Dictionary:
Originates from Cuban Spanish. Refers to a "lowlife", a cheazy (cheap & sleazy) person, someone with little or no class who often dresses the part, as well - using big, gaudy, overly showy clothing & accessories. 
"Mira a ese reloj chillon que lleva Cuco. Y mira como habla con boca grande y con tanta vulgaridad. Que gente mas chusma!" 
"Look at that big, gaudy watch Coco wears. And look at how he goes around talking all big and with such vulgarity. What a lowlife!"

ADDED: I learned another new word, "cheazy." I was just about to add a "[sic]" after it, thinking they'd meant "cheesy," but then I saw the parenthetical. It's a portmanteau of "cheap & sleazy." Okay. But it's hard to believe that wasn't just hearing "cheesy" and imagining the spelling. It gives me a flashback to the time I lost the 8th-grade spelling bee when I pictured the ostrich in the word "ostracize." 


What's emanating from your penumbra said...

When someone doesn't take into consideration the reasonable concerns of others, isn't the most effective way of responding to turn it up to 11 and point it back at them?

Plus: I don't think it's apples to apples to compare the impact of crime to the impact of the cameras. The neighbors aren't causing the crime. Isn't there a hippocratic oath for HOAs?

What's emanating from your penumbra said...

Related: "In the Denver Post, Richard Warshaw, president of the Bel-Aire Estates Owners Association (Aurora, CO), admits that crime isn’t exactly a major problem in his 75-home community. In fact, they’ve experienced only one incident in 15 years. But Warshaw says that three license plate readers make homeowners *feel* safer."

Howard said...

If you need to construct a paranoid surveillance state to feel secure in your home and possessions, then maybe it's the universe telling you it's time to move to a chill neighborhood.

tommyesq said...

Seems like the reasonableness of the cameras qould be heavily tied to the prevalence of crime in the neighborhood and general area. Did the article say? Paywall and whatnot.

Temujin said...

IF you're living in a neighborhood that has a number of break-ins, either into homes or cars, and there are a number of 'strangers' cars driving through your neighborhood, I can see where you'd want to come up with security to try to stop it, or at least figure it out. Not sure if license plate cameras are the answer, however. But I don't live there and there are too many unknowns to comment with any specificity.

I'd simply say that outdoor (and indoor) home cameras (and mics) are extremely common in today's world. And outside of rural areas, there are no parts of America that are not currently under some sort of surveillance camera. That horse has already left the barn. Cities and states have installed millions of cameras. People willingly hook up Alexa, Echo, Dot, Google Home, etc in their homes to record their every utterance, seemingly without concern.

I guess in this case, this was the last straw. Someone, or some people had had enough. Maybe it just comes down to an overbearing HOA board member, which makes more sense. Probably has a history of causing issues for people in that neighborhood.

BTW- It's time to let that 8th grade spelling bee go. It's clear that you own the grammar sector over any of us today.

Fernandinande said...

homeowners in the Colorado mountains

Golden is not in the the mountains. They couldn't even get that right.

Black Dog said...

FYI, not sure why "chusma" is thought of as being Cuban. I was born in Argentina, and"chusma" was used by both my parents and grandparents. Then again, it's the Urban Dictionary....oof

Birches said...

The link to your old post isn't working for me.

Tina Trent said...

I thought HOAs were invented to create strife.

Butkus51 said...

just watch the interviews at the end of any ballgame to hear other spanish words.

Achilles said...

The problem here is a low trust society.

You should not tolerate thievery.

It is noted that our ruling caste lives in places where they don't have to worry bout thievery, but they force the proles to have to live with it.

The costs here are not being imposed by the cameras. They are being imposed by thieves.

Thieves should be afraid. They should receive no support from society for acting like this. They should receive support for being positively productive. A free Society requires mutual respect for each other from the citizens that live in it.

People who do not respect others do damage to a free society whether it is property crime or white collar crime.

Lurker21 said...

I learned a new word, "chusma."

I would have guessed that it was a cross between a chiasm and a zeugma.

A most curious creature. I think I saw one at the zoo once.

BG said...

No cameras here. Then again, we never had to put up with a HOA. We used to have a 140 lb. half-Rottweiler. He did pretty well all on his own; never hurt anyone. Just had to sit or stand on the porch and bark. We never worried about burglars.

We didn't mind him greeting us when we arrived home.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Cars on public roads have no expectations of privacy. That’s pretty simple and accepted.

mikee said...

Here in my suburban Austin home, the local police cars have license plate scanners that read plates automatically, continuously, and alert the officer if a plate is associated with a warrant for the car owner, or lack of insurance, or anything else of interest to the police. I was once stopped for lack of insurance while driving a rental car (self-insured by the rental company, so ping! goes the officer's computer).

Abuses of this system here and elsewhere include obtaining private information on citizens by police for personal reasons, from sexual stalking of women to proof of cheating spouses to determining when homes were empty for robberies. The data on time and location of all plates read is kept, apparently forever, allowing previous crimes to be researched via car location, and also allowing previous noncriminal behavior such as attendance at political rallies to be compiled.

Orwellian and annoyance are correct. Pointless would be a blessing.

Joe Smith said...

We just got a license plate scanner in our neighborhood. We can opt out of the program (they won't record our plates).

There has been a small but noticeable uptick of fairly serious crime in our small, mostly white, mostly wealthy town (yes, it's a town) lately.

For us it makes sense because we'd rather not build a guard gate for the neighborhood, but also because there is only one road in and out.

Under the agreement, we (the HOA) own all of the data and the cops have to ask for our permission to see it.

If crime keeps climbing then we will just move somewhere else, and take our tax money with us...

Btw, not a fan or Ring or anything with a speaker or a camera inside or outside of our home. I worked in tech and the 'Internet of Things,' and the security is appalling.

loudogblog said...

I live in a pretty safe neighborhood. A few years ago, I ordered a book from Amazon and it never arrived. I suspected that someone might have stolen the box off of the porch so I ordered a dummy camera on EBAY and mounted it by the front door. About three times a year, I come home from work and someone has pointed the dummy camera at the ground. I will say that I haven't had any more packages disappear since I installed the dummy camera.

Leora said...

In Florida HOA law requires that any changes to the common area facilities after the initial filing requires a vote of the majority of owners. People get just as excited over changes of paint color as this debate about security cameras. Unless you live in isolation, you always need to deal with the opinions of your neighbors whether it's a small town, an apartment building or an HOA.

Ray - SoCal said...

The article does not get into a lot of interesting issues, which the law in the US has not addressed yet.

Having them in a community is one thing, with access to all members. The general terms / concerns are privacy.

We have installed cameras at all our apartment complexes, and they have helped a lot. Cameras are so cheap now, it's more of the exception.

What about Ring Cameras, $150 and a small monthly charge and you now have a camera! Amazon, and often your local police department has access too, just like Amazon, Google, etc. is listening / spying using smart devices in you home. Combine this with facial recognition, and another way to track you. Of course you are being tracked already by your phone, due to the built in GPS (required by law), and pinging cell phone towers and local Wifi already does that. And many Apps on phones also track your location.

What I have found is:

1. Cameras keep honest people, honest.
2. There has been a noticeable decrease in criminal activity due to our cameras
3. Giving camera information to police is a mixed bag in CA. This goes along with the everything under $950 is a misdemeanor, so it's hard to get prosecutions.
4. Signs saying you have cameras increase deterrence.
5. We are very loath to give tenants video information.
6. Homeless do not seem to care if you have cameras, much. They have been useful where you get a picture, and then can use that to get communication to the person through contacting local agencies that seem to know all the local homeless. It also makes descriptions a lot easier.
7. Masks reduce the usefulness of cameras. And criminals have figured this out...

Interesting Issues:

1. This was brought up at an apartment owner meeting. What if a tenant installs a camera? What responsibility does the owner have?

2. For installing cameras, what type of privacy guidelines should you follow?

The laws comments is basically the law is a couple of years behind technology. I looked at other countries, and my take away was do not point you camera at somebody's door directly, or bedroom window. And have lots of signage saying you have cameras.

A lot of the newer cameras include sound so conversations can be recorded, and that feature makes me very uneasy. None of our cameras record sound.

I seem to have more fears on the privacy aspects then my tenants. All the feedback I have had has been very positive.

The next camera I want is one for my car, hit and runs are scary. It's amazing the increase in cameras in our society.

The one part I think the HOA is stupid, is giving everyone access too. That is just opening themselves up to problems if the cameras are used to harass / stalk a person. They are just asking for problems.

Darkisland said...

Home Owners Associations (HOAs) are the pinnacle of democracy. Anyone who doesn't like HOAs, as opposed to some of the things they do, is an anti-democratic fascist.

1) Everyone gets a vote, though the vote is usually 1 house, 1 vote

2) Membership is purely voluntary. If you do not want to be a member, do not buy a house in that neighborhood. Most houses in the US are not in HOAs.

3) Most (I believe) HOA's have a "constitution" that can only be changed with great difficulty if at all (local, state and federal laws override them, of course. In Puerto Rico, at least, these covenenants are written into the property title deed. There is a clause in the deed that says, in effect, "I agree to abide by all covenants" These can cover all sorts of things from the color of the house to keeping of animals, fences and whatnot. In my house they run 3 single spaced pages.

4) The bylaws that enforce the covenants and the dues that pay for things like streets, common areas, security and so on are covered by the by-laws. These can be changed by majority vote. Usually at an annual meeting by majority vote. Democracy in action.

5) It is generally very easy to get elected to the board, even the presidency, of most HOAs. It tends to be a job most people don't want to do. Also, most people don't even show up to vote. Get a dozen of your neighbors who are unhappy with the current board and/or bylaws and you can probably elect yourselves to run the whole shebang.

HOA's are perhaps the most pure form of democracy anywhere in the world.

People who complain about HOAs should not buy houses in HOA developments. People who complain about HOAs are showing that they really, really, really, don't like the very concept of "democracy".

John Henry

Jeff said...

What's stopping camera supporters from simply buying their own cameras and setting them up in their own front yards pointing up and down the street? There's nothing illegal about filming what happens on a public roadway, is there?

Original Mike said...

"He argues the solution to crime is “quite simple”: more cameras on the streets."

The solution to crime is quite simple: Look your damn doors! The vast majority of property crime is committed against people who are too stupid, too lazy, or too stubborn to lock their damn doors.

SteveWe said...

You might be interested in reading "The Atlas of AI", Kate Crawford. The author has several pages about how Ring cameras and their like are being used in a privacy abusive way.

Joe Smith said...

'The solution to crime is quite simple: Look your damn doors! The vast majority of property crime is committed against people who are too stupid, too lazy, or too stubborn to lock their damn doors.'

And if they ever do get in, get a gun!

Dogs are good, too...

Gospace said...

I agree with John Henry about HOAs. They have their place in society. When we bought a home in Virginia Beach we bought one in an HOA area because we had previously lived in a fairly new subdivision in SC that didn’t have one. Night and day in “average “ home and yard appearance.

The HOA had a swimming pool. Most of the HOA subdivisions did. I subsequently found out that the pool is the second least used amenity after tennis courts- but no one wants to buy into a community that doesn’t have one. The most used amenity? Basketball courts, and no one wants to live near one. I doubt much has changed. The golf courses that run through many of the communities generally aren’t managed or owned by the HOA. Private clubs.

When we put in a tree and a fence we had to get approval. A pro forma thing if you checked the rules first. No chain link, only cedar, unpainted, 4 ft high. I have a 5 ft chain link fence around my house now on 8.5 acres in Ruralville. Didn’t ask anyone about putting it up, just did it. But even in Ruralville there are rules. A friend got turned in to code enforcement because she had a 48” deep pool from Wallyworld she put up without a permit (deeper than 24”) and without a 4’ minimum fence with a locking gate. Visible from the road on her 20 acres and someone took exception.

Bruce Hayden said...

“ Golden is not in the the mountains. They couldn't even get that right.”

That very much depends on where you live in “Golden”. We moved to “Golden” in 1960, up on the north side of South Table Mesa. Then,in 1985 my parents moved up to Genesee, west along I-70, at about 7300 ft. Youngest brother still has that house. My ex and I moved a couple exits down along I-70. All in the Golden 80401 zip code. All of those houses have their mail delivered from the 80401 Post Office, just north of the Taj Mahal (Jeffco Courthouse). Two of those houses are well up in the foothills, in the Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, and Spruce, 2,000 feet above Denver, and almost that high above the City of Golden. Sure, Coloradans call those the Foothills, but everyone else calls them mountains. We also have a couple apartment complexes in 80401, all addressed as Golden, but only one inside the city limits. So, it really depends on how you define “Golden”: within the city limits? The zip codes 80401-3)? The Crestview (27x prefix) phone exchange? The high school?

Bunkypotatohead said...

That place is rich, white, and peculiarly 56% male.
There probably isn't any crime beyond soliciting homosexuals.

Bruce Hayden said...

Ok. Figured out where Paradise Hills (and it’s HOA) is located, and they are definitely in the foothills in the Golden 80401 zip code. It’s across I-70 from where my parents, and now brother, live. It covers the north side of Lookout Mountain. Heading up west out of Denver on I-70, up Mt Vernon Canyon, and you will see houses on the right (North) starting about half way up (between the Mother Cabrini and Lookout Mountain/Upper Genesee exits). A bunch of fairly large houses sitting out on the side of the mountains, with nary a tree in site. Most of the houses are probably maybe a million or so right now. Some are worth much much more. I much prefer Genesee, on the other side of I-70, with its evergreen trees, but I spect that most of the houses there have beautiful views of Denver, 1,500-2,000 feet below. My mother never tired of pointing out their flaws, like shortages of water and no trees.Towards the top of the ridge to Lookout Mountain, right next to Paradise Hills, is Mt Vernon Country Club. My parents belonged there for 30 years or so, and they too had a gorgeous view of Denver at night. They ate there a lot, and we had our rehearsal dinner there when I married my ex.

Used to cut through the subdivision fairly regularly as we went from Genesee to the top of Lookout Mountain for dinner. That may have been the problem - that the road up through the subdivision provided the fastest route coming up Mt Vernon Canyon to the Top of Lookout Mountain, the Boetcher Mansion, the Buffalo Bill Museum, and then down the Lariat Trail into the city of Golden, which is part of the Lariat Trail National Byway. For some local color, Buffalo Bill Cody’s funeral procession to his final resting place on the top of Lookout Mountain, looking far out on the plains, extended all the way up that road. That was roughly a century ago. The road is maybe 5 miles long and gains/loses about 2,000 feet, as it winds up/down the front of the mountain. That winding is what gives it its name. That road provided some of the best parking (and necking) sites in the area. And I knew kids who would roll junk cars off a couple of corners, plunging them into Clear Creek canyon a thousand feet below. Oh, and it was a gas to fly down it on a bicycle, when I was in HS. Not so fun to get to the top though. If you ever visit Golden, it is worth the detour to experience.

Bruce Hayden said...

Not a complete fan of HOAs. I bought our subdivision in NW MT two years ago (and thanks to COVID-19 and Blue State and city mismanagement, sold most of my lots last summer - Yeh!) we have an HOA, and having such cost me sales. Not a lot of people, it seems, want to move to rural NW MT, and have an HOA tell them what to do.

Our HOA has an Architectural Review Committee that is supposed to have to approve any construction, from putting up satellite dishes, to taking down the larger trees, to building houses. There are a lot of picky rules that are supposed to be obeyed. For example, you need 1400 sq ft of livable space, but the houses can’t be over 24’ tall. No modular or prebuilt houses, and no log houses (which is idiotic, because we are surrounded by thick Pine, Spruce, and Fir climax forests). There are setback requirements, and when I built my garage last year (which are allowed to have up to 1200 sq ft, but, again, not over 24’ tall, and that is what my garage has), I mismeasured, and it is located 4’ too close to the road. Whoops. Then, because of bogus complaints about having to swerve around my truck, I put a parking space just south of the garage, where I park the truck. That needed ARC approval, and I didn’t get it. Or more accurately, I mentioned it to the guy building the garage, we went out of town for a couple days, and he had it graded, compacted, and gravel hauled in, before we got back. In any case, Whoops, again. Owning a majority of the lots a year ago, I was elected to the Board of Directors. Somehow, they convinced me that it would be politically better to not be on the ARC. Whoops again. They sent me a certified demand letter asking me what I was going to do about these issues. This was all prompted by complaints, mostly, I think, from the wife of someone who was voted off the board when I was voted on. They did suggest that I file for variances, which they were tempted not to approve. I finally responded about a month ago, requesting the approval for the parking spot, and a variance for the setback requirements for the garage. But, I also pointed out that I could issue my own variances (legally standing in the shoes of the original developer) or even amend the CCRs without the HOAs approval. Or, I could just move the road through there 4’ west, since I owned the lots on both sides of the road. At this point, that would be much cheaper than tearing down the garage and rebuilding it 4’ to the East. Don’t think that they wanted to hear that, since most of them live down the road and would have to swerve every time they came through there. I also pointed out that there was a provision in the CCRs awarding attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in litigation, implying that that would likely be me (being the only attorney in the subdivision). So far, I haven’t heard back.

Tina Trent said...

These whiners are living in a war zone. Also, property owners have rights to monitor local streets usually. What they can’t do is reproduce stuff online.

They could get together and discuss this. If they can all be adult about it.

Tina Trent said...

Also, hey Howard, fuck you. Once you’re face down, being sodomized and strangled with a pillow, we can talk. Until then, shut the fuck up.