Waste, Fraud, & Mismanagement

San Diego Taxpayers Paying Millions for Surveillance Equipment That Isn’t Used

waste fraud management cash

“San Diego officials are pushing for the installation of a new streetlight surveillance system, but the old one is still putting pressure on city coffers,” the Voice of San Diego reported June 14.

“The Independent Budget Analyst has concluded that San Diego will be paying $1 million in annual interest payments over the next decade,” the report continued. “That comes out to roughly $2,740 a day from the Transportation Department budget for equipment that hasn’t technically been in operation for years.”

The original rollout was financed through a loan as part of a public-private partnership. A company offered $30.2 million in 2016 on the promise that infrastructure upgrades would pay for themselves through energy cost savings, “but the city only drew down $19.9 million before the program went belly up in 2020 in response to community pushback,” the Voice of San Diego reported.

Of that $19.9 million, $11.8 million is directly attributed to the cameras, while the rest went to lighting and other non-camera equipment.

The Voice of San Diego noted:

“The city did end up saving on its energy costs thanks to the upgrades, but it wasn’t enough to offset the overall cost of the project. Officials also ran into trouble after realizing that the technology wasn’t living up to expectations. About a third of the cameras installed on street poles didn’t work properly. The final payment is scheduled for July 2032. … During the initial discussions in 2016, the City Council failed to [investigate] the mass surveillance capabilities of the equipment they were buying. It was pitched as a tool for mobility and air quality monitoring but evolved into an exclusive tool for the police, prompting protests from community groups. As the cost of the project exploded, then-Mayor Kevin Faulconer moved to shut it down.”