Danville council to discuss license plate readers for police

Clarifying smoking ban, Danville Blvd bike lanes, taxi rules also on tap

Danville police chief Steve Simpkins is set to present the Town Council with an update Tuesday on efforts to bring license plate recognition cameras to key Danville intersections to help police investigators solve and deter crimes.

The discussion will take place at a morning study session during which the council will also talk about clarifying the smoking ban in multifamily housing complexes, redoing bike lanes on part of Danville Boulevard and supporting regional taxicab regulations.

Council members gave initial support earlier this year to Simpkins' proposal to bring automated license plate readers to the town.

"(The readers) enhance crime prevention and criminal investigations by discouraging criminals, alerting law enforcement to stolen or wanted vehicles and providing investigators with data on vehicles leaving the vicinity where crimes have been committed," Simpkins said in his most recent staff report to the council.

The Danville Police Department also issued body-worn cameras to all of its sworn police officers last month, Simpkins said.

The department proposes to mount license plate readers on traffic signals or light poles at 13 intersections, as well as install companion situational awareness cameras (sitcams) at those intersections to capture real-time footage to help police investigators develop leads for crimes tied to cars without plates, Simpkins said.

Intersections under consideration include Danville and El Cerro boulevards, El Cerro and Interstate 680, Diablo Road and Camino Tassajara, San Ramon Valley Boulevard and Sycamore Valley Road, Camino Ramon and Fostoria Way, and El Capitan Drive and Crow Canyon Road.

Police would also add sitcams to Oak Hill Park as tools to provide investigative leads and deter after-hours loitering and vandalism at the park, All Wars Memorial and Oak Hill Park Community Center.

The proposal calls for 36 fixed readers and 33 sitcams overall, and Simpkins said he hopes the program will be fully operational by the end of the year.

Mobile readers would also be mounted on six existing patrol vehicles -- three readers each -- to provide additional coverage throughout the town, the chief added.

The program would have $839,360 in initial capital costs, which would include purchase, installation, data storage and licensing, and there would be $139,348 in estimated annual operating and replacement costs going forward, according to Simpkins.

The police chief will ask the council to offer feedback about his updated plan and provide direction about how to proceed with the program's implementation Tuesday morning. The study session is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. in the Danville town offices at 510 La Gonda Way.

In other business

* The council members will have a conversation about potential clarifications to the town's new ordinance that bans smoking at multifamily housing complexes within the units, on patios or balconies, and common areas of the building and property -- other than designated smoking areas.

The ordinance, which took effect May 1, defines a multifamily building as having three units or more, but there's been confusion about complexes like some in Crow Canyon Country Club, with single-story homes that meet the current multifamily definition, according to Nat Rojanasathira, assistant to the town manager.

Staff said the council could consider amending the ordinance to redefine multifamily buildings to be multiple-story with four or more units.

Also, town officials suggest clarifying the smoking ban in common areas for complexes with a mix of single-family and multifamily buildings to make clear that the prohibition applies to any complex with at least one multiple-family building.

If the council supports the clarifications, they could be brought back for formal consideration July 5, Rojanasathira said.

* Council members will discuss options for redoing the bicycle lanes on Danville Boulevard in front of San Ramon Valley High School.

The town is working to increase public parking on north El Cerro Boulevard, east of Danville Boulevard, as well as on Danville Boulevard between Del Amigo Road and La Gonda Way -- with 22 new spaces overall.

As part of the project, staff recommends changing the bicycle lanes on Danville Boulevard in the area to improve safety for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians, according to town transportation manager Andrew Dillard.

The street currently has five-foot-wide painted bike lanes in each direction.

Dillard recommends three options: increase to seven-foot-wide bike lanes with "bike lane" painted every 200 feet, increase bike lanes to six feet wide northbound (leave at five feet for southbound) and add a three-foot buffer zone, or create seven-foot-wide bike lanes designated by green paint throughout the stretch.

The seven-foot lane with traditional striping would have the lowest cost, and the most expensive option would be the green lanes, which is a strategy used in large cities like San Francisco as well as in other Tri-Valley communities such as Dublin and Pleasanton, Dillard added.

* The council will consider whether to give initial support to the idea of establishing regional taxicab regulations.

Danville, like other cities in Contra Costa County, has its own town ordinance regulating taxis that applies to traditional cabs -- ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. Town officials estimate three to five taxis operate in Danville, typically downtown at night, Rojanasathira said in his staff report.

Recently, local law enforcement officials in the area have talked about coordinating taxi regulations on a countywide basis through a new entity created through a joint powers authority or a memorandum of understanding, with costs recovered through the license or permit fees, Rojanasathira said.

The move would establish uniform rules and regulations throughout the county, require operators to obtain a single regional permit and reduce overall costs and staff time, according to supporters. Walnut Creek, Antioch, Clayton, Concord, Martinez and the county were all on board as of June 1.

* The council will also discuss the concept of creating a sister-city relationship. Danville does not currently have a sister city.

* Before the study session, the council will gather at 8:30 a.m. for a special meeting to interview applicants and discuss the appointment of citizen representatives to the town's Parks and Leisure Services, Heritage Resource and Arts commissions as well as for a Danville member on the Contra Costa County Advisory Council on Aging.

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Like this comment
Posted by Treetopper
a resident of Danville
on Jun 14, 2016 at 11:53 am

It is rather sad to give up our privacy for the sake of security. If it takes plate readers to increase safety and security, so be it. I’m sure Danville can afford them.

2 people like this
Posted by Alamoguy
a resident of Alamo
on Jun 15, 2016 at 7:11 am

Unstated, but obvious, is the fact that these cameras will allow the Danville police to increase its revenue from minor and often insignificant traffic violations. Do we really want or need that?

4 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Danville
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:28 am

If you aren't doing anything wrong, no reason to worry about additional protection.
Thank you Danvillle for helping to keep us safe!

6 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Danville
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:42 am

License Plate Readers DO NOT enforce traffic laws. They only read and record license plates. The license plate is checked against a data base of stolen cars and stolen plates.

There will be NO increase in revenue from them.

Like this comment
Posted by FRS
a resident of Blackhawk
on Jun 16, 2016 at 7:52 am

It's a no for me. I don't trust the safety of the database where this information will be recorded. Secondly I doubt we need the increased security - I think we're safe enough, thank you very much. Thirdly never trade privacy for security, especially not in this case: given where we live, so few serious crimes are committed, so why?

3 people like this
Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Jun 16, 2016 at 8:27 am

"FRS": "Never trade privacy for security". Really? How many more Orlando's or San Bernandino's, or 911's are you willing to allow, before realizing the world we now live in demands greater security, with less privacy, to save lives. We need to give our law enforcement the necessary tools to uncover and thwart terrorist attacks before they occur, which unfortunately will require some minor intrusions on our privacy. What good is privacy if you are dead? I think this may actually be a major issue in the upcoming presidential election. While I do not like Trump, and can not stand Hillary, I have no doubt that he will give our law enforcement the tools they need to stop further terrorist attacks, while Hillary will take the liberal view that protects terrorist and leads to further massacres.

2 people like this
Posted by B
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 17, 2016 at 12:00 am

what are you all afraid of anyways? Oh, you want to feel safe ? More pictures Please!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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