SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | San Leandro may tear up its contract with its red-light camera vendor. Mayor Pauline Cutter urged Monday night for the City Council to examine the possibility of ending its contract for red-light camera services, in addition to beginning a dialogue over redistributing public safety surveillance cameras to recurring hot spots for crime.

Cutter also requested a future agenda item to revisit the city’s data storage policy regarding Automated License Plate Readers. However, she acknowledged the discussion on each item will not likely begin in earnest until early next year.

Local government contracts with red-light camera vendors were en vogue in recent years. But recently some cities, including Hayward, have chosen to back out of those agreements, citing concerns over high incidents of false infractions, particularly on vehicles making permitted right turns on red lights, and generally ineffectiveness in regulation traffic.

In addition, there is some evidence the cameras can cause collisions. Specifically when drivers avoid setting off cameras by slamming their brakes on yellow lights, instead of safely traveling through the intersection.

City Manager Chris Zapata said data on red-light cameras was recently compiled in response to a request by Councilmember Ursula Reed. The cost of breaking the contract with the red-light camera vendor is unclear.

Resurrecting a discussion on San Leandro’s license plate readers policy, however, appears rooted in anticipated opposition toward the incoming Trump administration and unease over how well it might protect citizens from intrusive surveillance.

Mike Katz-Lacabe, a former San Leandro school board members and frequent critic of the surveillance state, urged the City Council Monday night to examine whether it should lowering the amount of time it retains license plate reader data. San Leandro current stores information for up to 12 months. Katz-Lacabe suggested lowering the policy to 6 months.

Cutter and Thomas appeared willing to listen. “Do we really need six months versus the one year we have right now?” asked Thomas, who recommended bringing the proposal to the City Council’s Rules Committee for discussion.


  • While Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco officials have reaffirmed their sanctuary city status in recent weeks, there are stirrings in other East Bay cities for joining them, including San Leandro. Two weeks ago, several public speakers urged the council to protect undocumented immigrants for prosecution and possibly deportation by becoming a sanctuary city. On Tuesday, another speaker strongly encouraged the same move. In every instance, the impetus was clearly a response to Trump’s, yet to be detailed intention to increase deportations on undocumented immigrants.
  • Councilmember Thomas noted Monday night that incidents of illegal dumping appear to be increasing in San Leandro. Councilmember Corina Lopez said illegal dumping is also on the rise in her district, particularly on the San Leandro-Oakland border. In fact, San Leandro public works was summoned recently to clean up debris and mattresses on the border that was actually under Oakland’s jurisdiction.
  • Monday’s council meeting was the last for termed out members Jim Prola and Ursula Reed. Former San Leandro police sergeant Pete Ballew will be sworn-in to replace Prola in District 6 on Dec. 19 and Ed Hernandez will take the oath of office in District 2. Councilmember Benny Lee will also be sworn-in for a second term.