May 12 at the Council: Takoma/Langley Crossroads + License Plate Readers

Much of the agenda for the Monday evening, May 12 council meeting is important but routine and pretty-much decided — Council votes on the FY15 property-tax rates and city budget and on committee appointments — while two other items promise to be quite interesting. They are:

– A presentation by an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Center for Leadership mini-Technical Assistance Panel (mTAP), on Commercial Investment in the Takoma/Langley Crossroads area, and

– Follow-Up Discussion of License Plate Reader (LPR) Policy.

I and my council colleagues have heard from MANY people about LPRs. The city currently retains data for 30 days and then deletes it. Police Chief Goldberg proposes that the city provide its data to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC), which would retain it for a year, with access restricted to law-enforcement queries.

Maryland Senate Bill 699/House Bill 289 creates new data-access rules, effective October 1, 2014. It is online. It’s good stuff, yet in the wake of past Maryland state police spying on Takoma Park activists, and given civil-liberties concerns, I remain uncertain how the city should proceed. I think we would benefit from a public hearing (which the 2009-11 council called for, in February 2011, but which never happened) and further study. Because SB 699/HB 289 doesn’t go into effect until October 1, 2014, and I strongly oppose transfer of city data to MCAC before it takes effect, we have time.

Please do attend Monday evening’s council meeting to testify, at around 7:30 pm, on any agenda item or other city matter, or send your comment to the mayor and councilmembers: Bruce Williams <>, Fred Schultz <>, Jarrett Smith <>, Kate Stewart <>, Seth Grimes <>, Terry Seamens <>, Tim Male <>.

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