MALIBU—The city of Malibu announced on January 4 they will begin installing automated license plate recognition cameras throughout the area.

ALPR cameras will be installed at the intersections of Pacific Coast Highway/Lunita Road, PCH/Kanan Dume Road, Malibu Canyon Road/Civic Center Way, PCH/Cross Creek Road, and PCH/South Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

City staff received concerns from the public regarding the installation and that there would be a lack of coverage on the west portion of the city.

The camera locations are optimized for both inbound and outbound vehicular traffic along the Pacific Coast Highway and outlying regions.

According to the Public Safety Commission staff report, “the goal of the ALPR cameras is to enhance public safety by providing usable license plate data for use by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the contracted agency for law enforcement services. This proposal is being designed with the aid of the City of Malibu, Malibu/Lost Hills Station Detective Bureau, and the Advanced Surveillance and Protection unit.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department intends to use ALPR technology for the following public safety purposes: Investigation for prosecution or exoneration of suspected criminal (including terrorist) incidents; identification and/or location of wanted persons; enforcement of sanctions, orders, or sentences; crime prevention/general law enforcement purposes; and crime analysis and investigatory leads in subsequent investigations.

Keegan Gibbs, who is serves on the Public Safety Commission asked LA County Sheriff’s Deputy Sam Paul which entities have access to the data collected by the ALPR systems. Gibbs explained when the commission originally viewed the presentation there was uncertainty around who has access to the data and when that data could be petitioned to be open to the public.

“All automated license plate recognition systems are governed by Senate Bill 34 and Senate Bill 54 essentially preventing public access to automated license plate recognition data that is considered law enforcement data. The city in this case made the purchase of the systems for the sheriff’s department. So now essentially you’re handing off the control of the data to the sheriff’s department. Per Senate Bill 34 only law enforcement agencies are able to access that data,” said Paul.

The cameras were originally delivered to the city back in December 2022 and were first approved in April 2021. An estimated $26,000 was appropriated from the General Fund for the equipment. The ALPR cameras will be solar powered with backup batteries, and can operate day or night, and in a variety of weather conditions.