Morning Report: Smart Streetlights Are Only Sorta, Kinda Turned Off - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Smart Streetlights Are Only Sorta, Kinda Turned Off

Streetlight cameras in downtown San Diego / Photo by Megan Wood

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer ordered his staff last month to cut off access to the so-called smart streetlights program in response to growing criticism from elected officials and activists. But completely turning off the surveillance network is easier said than done.

Jesse Marx reports that staff in the Sustainability Department, which manages the streetlights program, followed through with the mayor’s directive, severing the ties between police and the cameras. But because the streetlights and the sensors run on the same power supply, officials can’t simply flip an off-switch.

The footage being captured in public rights of way, though inaccessible to law enforcement, is still being retained on the devices for five days at a time. The city asked Ubicquia, the Florida-based company that owns the underlying technology, to reduce the retention time of the footage to zero, but the CEO declined to do so until Ubicquia gets paid. 

A new contract with the company was sidelined in September after the City Council defunded the smart streetlights program. Elected officials want to first pass a surveillance ordinance and establish a privacy advisory commission.

The ordinance is expected to get a hearing after the election. 

Residents Caught Between Competing Schools Fears

We’re still surfacing some of the most interesting data from The Voice Poll, which surveyed residents countywide on a number of pressing issues.

Will Huntsberry notes that residents, like school officials, appear torn between two competing fears when it comes to coronavirus and schools: “A full 84 percent of respondents were ‘very concerned’ or ‘somewhat concerned’ students would fall behind academically. Coronavirus fears were nearly as high. Seventy-five percent said they were concerned the virus would spread when students return to class.”

Meanwhile, state lawmakers heard from educators last week about ongoing concerns amid the pandemic. But what was intended as hearing to help with the reopening of schools seemed to create more confusion about the rules. 

The Voice of San Diego Podcast Election Draft Is Back

On the podcast, Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby walked through their picks for the most interesting contests to watch on election night, including local ballot measures and statewide propositions. If you haven’t voted yet and need help, check out the guide our staff put together, along with outside resources. 

The crew also identified some of the major takeaways of our first commissioned scientific poll. 

In our first batch of stories, we learned that county residents support reallocating police funding, they agree housing and homelessness are very serious issues, and we saw where voters stand on the County Supervisor District 3 race.

Speaking of polling … stations … inewsource found that reductions in polling locations will hit some neighborhoods harder than others. City Heights and Oak Park, for instance, get one while Rancho Bernardo gets six, despite the neighborhoods having about the same number of registered voters. The county’s top election official said locations were based on political districts and took things like parking and the size of the space into account.  

The Election Contest Is Also Back

The Politics Report had a couple different revelations Saturday:

  • Our reporting has made a major impact on Election Night results display. 
  • Hot tubs were once a hot, new thing and the Sacramento Bee sent a young reporter to check them out. Now, that reporter is running for mayor of San Diego. 

Plus: The Elections Contest is back! Here are the lines. Send an email with your picks (ie. 1. OVER, 2. UNDER …etc.) to scott@voiceofsandiego.org. You could win lunch with Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby … whenever that’s safe again.

  1. San Diego Mayor: Choose OVER or UNDER: Todd Gloria, 53 percent.
  2. San Diego City Attorney: Choose OVER or UNDER: Mara Elliott, 55.5 percent.
  3. San Diego County, District 1: Choose OVER or UNDER: Ben Hueso, 53 percent.
  4. San Diego County, District 2: Choose OVER or UNDER: Steve Vaus, 50.5 percent.
  5. San Diego County, District 3: Choose OVER or UNDER: Kristin Gaspar, 43 percent.
  6. San Diego City Council, District 1: Choose OVER or UNDER: Joe LaCava, 51.5 percent.
  7. San Diego City Council, District 3: Choose OVER or UNDER: Stephen Whitburn, 57.5 percent.
  8. San Diego City Council, District 5: Choose OVER or UNDER: Joe Leventhal, 51 percent.
  9. San Diego City Council, District 7: Choose OVER or UNDER: Noli Zosa, 48 percent.
  10. San Diego City Council, District 9: Choose OVER or UNDER: Kelvin Barrios, 43.5 percent.
  11. 50th Congressional District: Choose OVER or UNDER: Darrell Issa, 53 percent.
  12. 53rd Congressional District: Choose OVER or UNDER: Sara Jacobs, 56 percent.
  13. San Diego Measure A: Choose OVER or UNDER: Yes, 53 percent.
  14. San Diego Measure B: Choose OVER or UNDER: Yes, 55 percent.
  15. San Diego Measure E: Choose OVER or UNDER: Yes, 49.5 percent.
  16. State Proposition 15: Choose OVER or UNDER: Yes, 47 percent.
  17. State Proposition 16: Choose OVER or UNDER: Yes, 46 percent.
  18. State Proposition 22: Choose OVER or UNDER: Yes, 51.5 percent.
  19. Oceanside Mayoral Race: YES or NO. Does the winner receive more than 20 percent of the vote?

Last-Minute Mayoral Jabs

Councilman Scott Sherman, who missed making the runoff for mayor, tweeted a withering take on his colleague Barbara Bry’s candidacy over the weekend. 

“She is inauthentic, inconsistent, and untrustworthy. She panders to special interests and those supporting her campaign. She will break her word if it means she gets ahead” he wrote. He had not spoken highly of her before but had not endorsed Assemblyman Todd Gloria.

He went ahead and did that.

Bry then shot back that Sherman was still bitter about SoccerCity and SDSU’s successful effort to secure the Mission Valley stadium land. Sherman supported SoccerCity’s competing measure.

“This is his ineffectual payback for being humiliated by a strong, independent woman,” she wrote.

In Other News

Corrections: Saturday’s Politics Report misattributed a quote. It came from Dan Rottenstreich, the campaign consultant for Marni Von Wilpert, who is running for City Council. Also, the Politics Report was updated with more information from Sara Jacobs’ campaign for Congress about her position on aid to Israel. 

The piece also misidentified who created campaign marketing materials supporting Councilwoman Monica Montgomery. It was supporters of hers. 

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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