San Pablo Park in Berkeley. Image: Google Maps

The city of Berkeley has installed 17 surveillance cameras in San Pablo Park in response to security concerns following shootings and other activity at the park in the recent past.

The cameras went live last week Friday, March 8, at 9 a.m., said city spokesman Matthai Chakko this week.* Installation work began in February and took nine days, he said.

City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley announced the news of the camera installation Tuesday evening at the Berkeley City Council meeting.

Chakko said it cost $30,000 to install the cameras, and that costs for ongoing staffing and system maintenance have not been calculated. He said Berkeley police and city staff would be able to review the footage as needed, but that no one would be assigned to watch it live on a regular basis.

Chakko said the city plans to install signage around the park “to make people aware of the presence of the cameras.” But he said the signs are still a work in progress.

While the exact location of the cameras was not provided, they cover “almost the entire park,” he said.

The camera installation took longer than some in the community hoped. Chakko said that was due, in part, to outreach efforts and also to winter weather. “Heavy winter rains” delayed installation, according to a council update posted on the city website this week. Chakko said the process for requesting proposals to do the work also was “lengthy,” which is not uncommon.

The city conducted an online survey in November to collect feedback about its camera plans at the park after council approved camera installation in October. Of about 240 responses to the online survey, 83% were in favor of the cameras while 14% were not.

The majority of respondents also said footage should only be retained for a limited time. The city ultimately decided to keep it for three days.

Chakko said San Pablo Park is the first Berkeley park to have surveillance cameras.

The incident that prompted much of the community concern at the park in the past year took place in August when three people were wounded during a shooting on a busy Saturday. Police made an arrest in connection with that case in February.

* A Berkeleyside story published last week that mentioned the surveillance cameras quoted a city official who said the work had not been done. Unbeknownst to the official and to Berkeleyside, the cameras had gone live that morning.

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...