Operator of Orange County malls Fashion Island – Irvine Spectrum – Tustin and Irvine Market Place says it shares license plate data with local police, but not ICE

A major Orange County land developer that owns three shopping centers equipped with cameras that read license plates said Wednesday it does not share information about vehicles captured in the recordings with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Irvine Co. said the data collected by a contractor are “only shared with local police departments as part of their efforts to keep the local community safe.”

Those shopping centers include Fashion Island in Newport Beach, the Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine and the Market Place on the border of Tustin and Irvine.

Both the Irvine and Newport Beach police departments said Wednesday that their respective agencies don’t share that data with ICE. Tustin police did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

The statements came after a report published Tuesday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation raised privacy concerns about how the data are used.

According to Irvine Co., the readers record license plate numbers as well as the location, date and time the information is collected. Encrypted information is then sent to a searchable database operated by Vigilant Solutions, a Livermore, Calif., business that collects information from license plate readers for law enforcement and private entities.

In Irvine, the technology would notify police when there’s a hit on cars that have been reported stolen or are associated with a wanted suspect, Irvine police spokeswoman Kim Mohr said.

“It’s like having extra patrol officers, in a way, because it’s the eyes out there,” Mohr said, adding that police cars are also outfitted with the technology.

In Newport Beach, investigators can search the Irvine Co. database as part of active criminal investigations or patrol operations, but they haven’t actually ever used the tool in that way, Newport Beach police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella said.

“It’s not a database that we can just peruse at will,” Manzella said. “We have to be able to document who is querying it and why it’s being queried.”

Though Irvine Co. says it does not sell its information or share it with ICE, immigration authorities do have access to data collected from license plate readers elsewhere by commercial third parties and sold to Vigilant Solutions, according to the Northern California firm. In some cases, Vigilant Solutions owns the cameras the third parties use.

Vigilant spokeswoman Mary Alice Johnson declined to identify those third parties but said some include repossession companies whose trucks are outfitted with license plate readers. None of the third parties are law enforcement agencies, she said.

ICE is among at least 1,000 law enforcement agencies across the country that pay for access to the database — and it’s up to those agencies to set policies on how to use the information, Johnson said.

In a statement, ICE said that it uses information as a tool in criminal and civil immigration enforcement investigations and must comply with its own privacy rules.

“ICE is not seeking to build a license plate reader database, and will not collect nor contribute any data to a national public or private database,” the agency said. Its rules, ICE said, “are the most stringent requirements known to have been applied for the use of this technology.”

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California is suing for records about ICE’s use of the technology, including contracts with the private companies operating the databases, training material, privacy policies and other documents.

“Aggregation of this information into databases containing billions of license plate scans stretching back months and even years threatens core civil rights and liberties protected by the Constitution,” the ACLU of Northern California said on its website.

Times staff writer Cindy Carcamo contributed to this report.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-irvine-company-license-plates-20180711-story.html

Outcry over firefighters making up to $400,000 – Despite ever-tightening budgets, hefty paydays are actually becoming the norm for a lot of firefighters

Mar 4, 2017

SAN RAMON, Calif. — Despite ever-tightening budgets, hefty paydays are actually becoming the norm for a lot of firefighters.

In 2015, some firefighters with the San Ramon Valley Fire District were making as much as $400,000 a year in total compensation, CBS San Francisco reports. More than half of the full-time employees at the department make more than $300,000 in total compensation a year, according to data collected by the watchdog group Transparent California.

“Does it make sense that a battalion chief in San Ramon should earn $300,000 when our governor only earns $180,000 a year in compensation?” said Jack Weir, president of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association.

But one department said that paying out a lot of overtime is actually saving taxpayers money.

San Ramon Valley Fire Chief Paige Meyer says the $300,000 figure doesn’t tell the whole story. That number includes pension and benefits, so in reality, he says, firefighters take home about half of their total compensation.

“So, if someone makes $1, we ending up close to spending 90 cents for their pension, so that’s $1.90, roughly,” Meyer said. “And then we also have the costs of healthcare.”

Meyer said pension and healthcare obligations can mean it’s cheaper to pay a firefighter overtime instead of hiring someone new and adding an extra set of benefits costs.

“Saving can be upwards of 25 to 30 percent,” Meyer said.

Firefighters are guaranteed about 70 percent of their income after retirement in their 50s. In San Ramon, firefighters contribute close to 25 percent of their income to their pension.

Weir believes the system won’t work in the long run.

“It’s unreasonable, it’s unaffordable and most importantly, from a taxpayer’s perspective and from the perspective of the firefighters, it’s unsustainable,” Weir said.

But Meyer says San Ramon is an example of a fire district doing things right.

“We have a very sustainable system,” Meyer said. “We’re paying all of our unfunded liabilities. We’re actually one of the only agencies that I know of in the United States that pays extra money toward our unfunded liabilities in retired, medical and pension costs.”

Meyer also says a starting firefighter in San Ramon would make about $90,000 in salary alone.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/san-ramon-california-firefighters-making-up-to-400k/

The newly elected Irvine City Council wasted no time trying to tackle what many residents consider the most pressing issue the community is facing – traffic congestion.

Editorial –

Irvine Residents Need to Hire a Class Action Law Firm – Sue City Hall – the Developers and Individual Council-members – Seek Damages over Approved Runaway Development and Greed – Resulting in Traffic Gridlock – You’ve Got to Play Hardball with these Crooks and Dig Into the Personal Finances of Council Members – and You’ll find that they’re All in Debt Up to Their Asses and Will Expect Secret Money Payoffs for Voting to Approve Development and Construction –

Irvine, California –

Irvine wants to reinstate Transportation Commission, hire traffic czar to fight congestion

IRVINE – The newly elected City Council wasted no time trying to tackle what many residents consider the most pressing issue the community is facing – traffic congestion.

The council on Tuesday directed staff to prepare reinstating the Transportation Commission and start recruiting a transportation manager. The council approved these proposals by Mayor Don Wagner 4-0, with Councilman Jeff Lalloway absent.

“I’m certain it’s no surprise to anyone on this council or any citizen of this great city that traffic is an issue that we are grappling with as a community,” said Wagner, who was elected in November. “I wanted to make sure that I have the opportunity to say to all of you in this city, ‘We hear you and are very interested in doing everything we can to alleviate traffic and to grapple with that issue.’”

The Transportation Commission will be tasked with evaluating the traffic impact of development proposals, monitoring the progress of traffic improvement projects, reviewing traffic signal coordination and advising the Planning Commission and City Council, according to Wagner’s proposal. Staff must return in February with necessary resolutions or ordinances to form the commission.

The transportation manager will oversee all aspects of transportation matters such as traffic management and transit planning, while serving as the staff liaison to the proposed Transportation Commission. The city plans to pay for the new person with a vacant position that’s already budgeted.

The council also directed City Manager Sean Joyce to calculate costs for the following projects:

• A pilot project to install real-time signal timing adjustments along a selected corridor, such as Von Karman Avenue. The technology detects traffic volumes to give just the right amount of green signal time.

• Providing circulating shuttles throughout the center of the city.

• Promoting staggered business hours, non-peak delivery periods and ride-sharing in the business community.

In addition, Councilwoman Melissa Fox proposed that Irvine apply for transportation grants and funds.

The city has already committed to spending $116 million toward solving traffic congestion.

According to a survey conducted by the city, about 60 percent of the respondents said traffic congestion is a “daily annoyance” or a “big problem.” More than half of the survey respondents blamed increasing population as the No. 1 cause of Irvine’s traffic congestion. Irvine also draws commuters and those who drive here for shopping and dining.

Mayor Pro Tem Lynn Schott said Irvine’s traffic and population are near capacity.

“We are going to do our best to improve the situation to keep things flowing as smoothly as we can,” she said. “But I don’t think it’d be realistic for us to say we are going to be able to spend X amount of dollars and everyone is going to be able to just sail through every intersection at any time of the day that they like.”

Contact the writer: tshimura@scng.com

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/traffic-740808-city-transportation.html