Neighbors using cameras to watch Seattle tent city



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Posted on January 24, 2011 at 6:54 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 24 at 7:07 PM

Do neighbors have a right to use video cameras to monitor a homeless tent city near them?
Tent City

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SEATTLE – Tent cities for the homeless have not always been welcomed by neighbors in Seattle. Now, some of those neighbors are setting up cameras to keep a watchful eye.

Tent city has moved into the parking lot of Maple Leaf Lutheran Church at 10005 32nd Avenue Northeast for a 90-day stay. When it moved in, residents were greeted with surveillance cameras posted on homes around the perimeter.

"They watch us go in and out of the restrooms. Watch us eat. How would they feel if someone had a camera in their living room of their house doing that?" said Roger Franz, a tent city camp leader.

One homeowner told us she has a camera trained on the camp for protection. She says she's not homeless-phobic, but tent city doesn't do criminal background checks on their residents and that poses a potential threat.

Church pastor Julie Blum says tent city is a safe community with its own security. She sees the cameras as an invasion of privacy.

"I don't think it's making anybody safer. It's not protecting anybody," said Blum.

Tent city residents say they have found an attorney to represent them. That attorney is sending letters to the homeowners asking them to remove the cameras within seven days or face a possible lawsuit.