License Plate Cameras

L.A. City Council Wants to Send You A Letter When Its License-Plate Readers See Your Car in Certain Neighborhoods

Reckless policy proposed as an anti-prostitution measure.


The Los Angeles City Council thinks it would be a good idea to use license plate readers to send automated letters to people whose cars are seen by cameras in areas they believe to be used to solicit prostitution. These helpful prospective letters would warn the recipient that, well, the city knows they, or someone with access to their car, has driven or parked their cars in parts of the city where the city believes people often go to solicit prostitutes.

In other words, freely traveling in a part of the city that the city has some generalized suspicion about should be enough for the city to use your tax money to be the worst sort of backfence neighborhood busybody and try to ruin your relationship(s).

The Council last week officially asked the city attorney for advice on that proposal it would like to implement. The idea was the brainchild of  San Fernando Valley Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who really wants to stamp out prostitution, or so she keeps saying.

From an Associated Press report in the Orange County Register:

The letters would be written to discourage those who were soliciting prostitutes from returning to the area while posing no harm to those who were there for legitimate reasons, Councilwoman Nury Martinez said.

"If you aren't soliciting, you have no reason to worry about finding one of these letters in your mailbox," she said.

This councilwoman has zero knowledge about the dynamics of human marriage or romantic relationships if she believes that nonsense for a second.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, already in an ongoing lawsuit against the LAPD and L.A. County sheriff over its license plate reader collection practices, thinks it's a terrible idea, as the Los Angeles Daily News reports. J.D. Tuccille reported on that lawsuit here back in 2014.

Nick Selby with an essay posted at has a pretty good compendium of reasons why the city attorney should say please forget this horrible idea back to the Council, even though he's cool with license plate readers in law enforcement in general:

As a law enforcement technologist, and a working police detective, I generally support the use of license plate readers…

[But this L.A. proposed] scheme makes, literally, a state issue out of legal travel to arbitrary places deemed by some?—?but not by a court, and without due process?—?to be "related" to crime in general, not to any specific crime.

There isn't "potential" for abuse here, this is a legislated abuse of technology that is already controversial when it's used by police for the purpose of seeking stolen vehicles, tracking down fugitives and solving specific crimes.

The City Council and Ms. Martinez seek to "automate" this process of reasonable suspicion (reducing it to mere presence at a certain place), and deploy it on a massive scale….they seek to use municipal funds to take action against those guilty of nothing other than traveling legally on city streets, then access the state-funded Department of Motor Vehicle registration records to resolve the owner data, then use municipal moneys to write, package and pay the United States Postal Service to deliver a letter that is at best a physical manifestation of the worst kind of Digital McCarthyism….

Oh, and what happens to those records once they are committed to paper? As letters sent by the District Attorney or City Council, they would be rightly subject to Freedom of Information Laws. And mandatory retention periods that exceed those of automated license plate data, even though no investigation has been consummated.

Which means that, under Councilwoman Martinez' scheme, anyone will be able to get a list of all vehicles driving in certain parts of town merely by requesting "all 'John' letters sent" between a date range.

Far from serving as, in the words of one proponent, a private "wake-up call," these letters will surely be the basis of insurance, medical, employment and other decisions, and such a list can be re-sold to public records companies, advertising mailing list companies…  who in their right mind would do business at any company located in that area? The list of unintended consequences is long.

Scott Shackford wrote back in 2013 about Sanford, Florida's, adoption of the same crummy, intrusive idea. A 2012 National Institute of Justice report on the pernicious practice's use nationally.

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  1. The Council last week officially asked the city attorney for advice on that proposal it would like to implement. The idea was the brainchild of San Fernando Valley Councilwoman Nury Martinez

    She’s like that other lady who wanted to ban rave music

    If you aren’t soliciting, you have no reason to worry about finding one of these letters in your mailbox

    If you have nothing to hide….

    1. brainchild aka brainfart

  2. WTF, this is beyond insane.

    Even without unintended consequences, this is extremely abusive. It essentially implicates people as criminals for engaging in perfectly legal behavior. It would destroy relationships.

    And punishing people (at or above the legal age of consent) for consensual victimless behavior is inherently evil anyway. Totally fucking evil.

    What will these evil fuckheads think of next?

    1. “What will these evil fuckheads think of next?”

      Oh, it’s coming and you’re not going to like it. Not one bit.

  3. Yes, I suppose Auschwitz had potential for abuse too.

    Too bad statist apologists can’t see the potential for abuse along with the actual abuse in any coercive monopolistic government. But even they ought to see this law will turn potential into kinetic.

    1. Politics is a blood sport. We don’t not use a tactic because someone will eventually use it against us. If someone uses a tactic against us, we adapt and use a new tactic and develop a defense against it.

      You can’t use broad and vague regulations to hassle our people. And as long as we keep sympathetic judges in critical roles, our people will remain our people.

  4. ould warn the recipient that, well, the city knows they, or someone with access to their car, has driven or parked their cars in parts of the city where the city believes people often go to solicit prostitutes.

    So, Sheriff’s convention, Governor’s mansion, that kind of thing.

    1. Writers’ conferences

  5. If there were only a way to read only the license plates of Climate Deniers.

    1. Anything with trucknuts or a Trump bumper sticker is grounds for automatic confiscation and redistribution by the LA City Council.

      1. I thought living in L.A. was grounds for confiscation and redistribution.

  6. If you are doing nothing illegal, you have nothing to be afraid of.

    In unrelated news, being afraid is now a Class III misdemeanor.

  7. Prostitutes like to hang out on the corner outside my office.

    There’s a hotel that caters to them across the street.

    Maybe we could send them to hang out around Nury Martinez’s office.

    1. Then you have nothing to worry about.

    2. Wow, that’s convenient for you.

  8. I also have a hard time believing Ms. Martinez wants to adopt this idea as an anti-prostitution measure – surely she claims that this measure is for the protection of the children victimized by sex-trafficking.

  9. “”If you aren’t soliciting, you have no reason to worry about finding one of these letters in your mailbox,” she said.”

    If she’s not doing anything wrong, she shouldn’t mind reporting her activities 24/7, right?

    1. Bitch should have a body camera on at all times since she’s being paid by our tax dollars, right?

      Like you said…if she’s doing nothing wrong she’s got nothing to hide.

      1. The libertarian candidate for Florida governor last time promised to have a webcam set up in his office.

  10. Is Ms Martinez affiliated with a political party? And what party controls the LA City Council?

    Just curious as it was missing from the story.


    2. The one that is purported to be “good” on social issues.

    3. Party affiliation only matters when the person has an (R) after their name sloop. You should know that by now.

    4. The Party of Sanity.

    5. She is a member of the tired old crank party. you know that particular group who routinely gets cheated on by their spouse usually with a hooker because they are tired of coming home to a tired old crank.

      I am thinking Mrs. Martinez is bringing her personal marital issues to work. Or she is throwing her other council members lifestyle choices under the bus?

      I think I will stick with tired old crank.

  11. “The list of unintended consequences potential benefits to the state is long.”

    For if the goal is to enlarge and perpetuate state bureaucracy, then these complaints are merely so much perpetual background noise. Yes yes, civil liberties. We’ve heard them well-spoken of. But i don’t recall them getting Ms. Martinez re-elected anytime recently. Whereas, handing a friendly state-agency a new mandate and a new budget and a feel-good reason for its existence? priceless

  12. I can form words despite the fact that I have no capacity for thought: Derp, Derp Derp, Derpty, derp derp derp

    Meet the 15-year-old kid who’s suing Obama over climate change…..index.html

    1. He should have “built” a climate change monitor thy looked like a bomb. Then he could sue the school as well.

    2. Little dipshit doesn’t realize that the seas began to recede when he was eight years old. He’s late to the party.

    3. You are two-too late.

      we covered both the 13yr old and that 15yr old’s climate-change lawsuits in the AM & PM links… and noted that they are both part of an organization that is Pimping Children Out as Plaintiffs because ….awwwwww who can resist a teenage suing you?! Its just so precious.

      1. Using children as political props is one of the most loathsome parts of the political landscape. I just fucking hate it, and react instantly negatively to anything political involving a child.

        1. I agree

        2. Check out the cute conflation of positive and negative =

          “[via the Our Children’s Trust program], 21 teens have sued the federal government, “alleging that approval of fossil fuel development has violated the fundamental right of citizens to be free from government actions that harm life, liberty and property,” according to CBS. “

          get this = they pretend that Fossil Fuel Development only “happens” because Government “Permits” it. Government “Allowing” things to happen is tantamount to doing it one’s self.

          And that Government permission of economic activity…

          …has apparently violated a very-enlarged and bizarrely conceived idea about “life liberty and property” being threatened… oh, 200 years from now when the butterfly-wings of climate change turn into the theoretical SUPERSTORM that will …uh, impoverish their grandchildren.

          Yeah, I can imagine the judges on these lawsuits being like, “Fuck, I have to tell the teenager she’s an idiot? And the press is all over this shit? This really isn’t going to look good for my soccer-mom voters…”

          1. Obviously Liberty is the greatest threat to Liberty.

            1. That seems to be the rhetorical prestidigitation they’re going for

        3. Even when the children are invisible?

          1. I preferred it back then.

          2. I don’t want to hear them, either.

        4. This is why I’ve said before that use of the word “children” (as well as “safety”) by a politician in regards to policy should be grounds for summary execution.

    4. I can’t decide which is more punch-face, the reporter or the kid.

  13. So let me see if I have this straight. The city government is going to issue some kind of warning letter to people seen in the wrong part of town? Will they control for people who live there? Will there be some kind of official action take for people spotted multiple times? Has this women ever even heard of the concept of individual freedom? How will activists not go completely ape-shit over this? Why am I going on like the Judge?

    1. “Will they control for people who live there?”

      And if they don’t will anyone eventually do a count of letters by race and protest the results?

    2. You and your “questions”.

    3. I’m sure that they will control for people in the area.

      Unfortunately, we are not using the word in the same sense.

  14. Well holy shit WaPo..

    Despite Planned Parenthood shooting, abortion-related violence used to be worse

    1. That’s the second story today that has….. caught me by surprise.

  15. She is why God invented wood chippers.

  16. She is why God invented wood chippers.

  17. She is why God invented wood chippers.

  18. She is why God invented wood chippers.

  19. She is why God invented wood chippers.

  20. She is why God invented wood chippers.

    1. The Squirrels Laugh At Your God

      1. Six isn’t even my best

        1. If somebody doesn’t knock that softball out of the park I’ll be disappointed.

        2. “Sex? Sex is good.”

        3. Are you a commando clicker? You must be really old. My grandpa does that too….

          1. Get off my lawn!

    2. +6

    3. mine goes on a tree-point hitch on my tractor. Best money I’ve ever spent. No more building huge piles that I have to later burn in the middle of winter.

      1. ….but burning it all is the fun part.

    4. So important it needed to be said 6 times.

  21. Pretty cool little dune buggy…..=obnetwork

    1. “That’s what you get for only five dollars!”

      /punch line to a Hillary joke

      1. oh snap

    2. Why the horse face?

      Dang, I think I messed up that joke.

      1. I’d pay her to go away before sex. As far as erections go, she’s like a bottle of whiskey,

  22. Wonder how he got that shiner?…..h-a-minor/

    1. Probably walked into a wall.

      Several times.

  23. “If you aren’t soliciting, you have no reason to worry about finding one of these letters in your mailbox,” she said.

    I’ll just leave this here.

    1. Those are hilarious:) lol

    1. “Quit masturbating, Shorty, the deal isn’t signed yet.”

    2. “Which way to the Star Trek convention?”

      1. Damn your quick fingers!

        “If you don’t put on a jacket and tie, we’ll have to beam you up.”

    3. Actual caption for your photo?…

      “Mr President, I’m not quite sure the UN is ready for your “Galactic-God-Emperor” incarnation…”

    4. I can’t decide if it’s the floor or the wall in that photo that is making me dizzy.

      1. Well, are you standing up or lying down?

      2. “I can’t decide if it’s the floor or the wall in that photo that is making me dizzy.”

        Perhaps all are one, DwT.

        I think the reference begins at 0:40.

      3. That combo is why Interior Decorators have to be licensed by the state.

    5. That is so funny. Johnny Long Tie is having himself a giggle.

      Caption: “Hey, I wore that exact go-go girl costume for Halloween last year!”

    6. That’s Hillary’s shirt. I’ve seen her in it before.

  24. This sounds areaist – the idea that the area that I live in is full of prostitutes smacks of areaism. Why I bet you think your area has no prostitutes because you’re fancy pants.

    1. I prefer areolaism.

  25. You can buy this on Amazon. probably comes with free ATF raid. Looks pretty easy to make actually.…..ine-still/

  26. Sure you can sue. Just be at the courthouse on Monday. Pay no attention to all the buses parked outside.…..tcmp=hpbt1

    1. “”Federal judges are very hesitant to strike down state statutes on constitutional grounds,” he said. ”

      How’s the weather on your planet, professor?

  27. I can’t cruise for prostitutes or seek a prostitute out on, and if I buy sexual aids on the internet the FBI will track those purchases.

    Is the government nudging me into having a real relationship?

    1. The horror.

    2. With the legalization of gay marriage, I’d hardly call it a nudge.

      1. Or even better, sexual aides.

        1. goddamn.

        2. I need to re-watch that. Recent… events…. will make it even funnier.

      2. Crusty wants everyone to catch aides.

  28. California: where the dumbest fucking statist bootlicking nanny state bullshit laws are trial-baloon-ed for the rest of the US

  29. Suggested civil disobedience: Drive about those neighborhoods with replicas of the city council members’ license plates attached to your vehicle.

  30. So… where are these neighborhoods?

    I used to live in Buffalo’s male hooker hot-spot. It was near downtown so most folks didn’t have a car. Will LA track pedestrians I wonder?

    1. They will if you keep giving them ideas.

    2. The two most popular strolls in LA are Figueroa Blvd and Sepulveda Blvd. These surface streets run parallel to the busy 110 and 405 freeways. Hookers aren’t stupid. They work *there* for a reason. And they work there in the early morning. They’re not lazy either. This is also when and where commuters get off the freeway to a get a donut and cup of coffee. The Vietnamese aren’t stupid or lazy either. This is where they run their donut shops.

      Buy a donut and a cup of joe and next thing you get is a divorce.

      1. Buy a donut and a cup of joe and next thing you get is a divorce.

        Breakfast of Champions.

      2. The real action is just east of the airport, but that’s outside of city limits.

        One of my buddies is a homicide sergeant for Inglewood, and when the murders go down on Century, it’s all about who controls the ladies.

  31. Amazon Prime Air

    Pretty cool. Pending regulatory approval of course.

    1. I can’t wait for my company to start in$uring this stuff.

      1. I can’t wait to short your company.

        1. Please. Liability insurance is a money-making machine.

          1. Oh, I know. I have a particular mutual fund that did very well this year, in spite of all of the unpleasantness.

            TBH, I highly doubt that drones will ever deliver my packages from amazon.

            1. Good for you. My 401K is bleeding like crazy.

              I think drones are more fantasy than reality myself. Much like driverless cars. Both might be technically feasible but they will be regulated to death.

              1. Excess capacity from UPS (or even the USPS for “last mile”) is incredibly cheap. There’s no way that a drone can beat that., especially given the liability.

  32. “Let’s say that letter comes in and your wife, your girlfriend or mother gets it,” said Cindy Sower, a Sun Valley business owner who applauded the proposal. “Maybe it’s a wake-up call.”

    “Wake up, man! Your wife, your girlfriend or mother is a lesbian!”

  33. Proggies have a harder time staying out of others’ sex lives more than anyone save the most hardcore evangelical socons. Shit, they may even beat them.

        1. I agree Diane. Or is it Caitlyn?

  34. Thanks for noticing. I figured I would shorten it as to not get called Sue. It was kind of a random handle anyway, just my favorite Brazilian name I ever heard. They do have some classic ones there. When the registration switch came a few years back it was just the one that first came to mind.

  35. Btw, Playa, you helped switch me to an IPA believer. I was more on the pale ale/stout/Pilsner triumvirate before with Steam mixed in. Sculpin is indeed excellent, but I usually balk at the price and just pick up Lagunitas or Prohbition’s version.

    1. I’ve been thinking about that lately. My brother brought over some light beer bullshit last night, and I was repulsed by it.

      I think there actually might be some nutrition benefits to it. Yeast, hops, IDK; maybe vitamin B. All I know is that I don’t prefer liquor, wine, or light beer. I like dark beer that’s so bitter that it tastes like aspirin.

  36. Always loved dark beer, but loved the heavy malt flavor more. Liberty Ale was the most bitter I would generally go. Presently drinking Modelos with salt and lime, but that’s just because I’m down in Baja with the fam. Everyone passed out after a day in the sun, and I’m holding down the fort listening to the sea of cortez and checking out the comment board and the Warriors score.

    1. I’m looking at a first time trip to Cabo in 2 weeks. Maybe. If Costco Travel makes it worth my while.

      1. Where are you staying? (resort-hotel, smaller hotel, near the marina, or on the point)

        I was out there for 3+ weeks a few years back. Long story. My buddy’s wife left him and he decided to use up all his time-share at once, just because “why not”. I tagged along.

        Do you plan to do some fishing? very recommended. This time of year is actually marlin season (more early-mid-nov, if i remember right, but december is still not bad) Don’t know what the peso is like, but probably still the best sport-fishing deal on the planet, bang-per-buck.

        1. Yes, if you like to fish at all this is the place.

        2. I’m on the fence about the all-inclusive bullshit. Resort for sure. I’ll find my way to food poisoning from a taco stand somehow.

          I don’t think I’ll fish, it’s more of a bang my wife 3x a day and have some adventures type deal. We always do a mid-december getaway without the kids, and have been able to stay in places for about 1/4-/1/3 of rack rates, no matter where we go. The 2nd week in December is… incredible. Last year, we did 2 Hawaiian islands in a week, upgraded everywhere for free, including rental cars. The biggest threat to this vacation is decision fatigue. I just can’t make up my mind.

          Mid December there is the beginning of calving season for Grey and Humpback whales. I guess I’m indifferent to the activities; I’m ok with watching nature’s miracles from afar, as well as murdering the fuck out of them (as long as they’re delicious).

          1. Well, even if you’re keeping fishing on as a backburner idea…DO NOT book anything as a package deal with a cabo resort hotel. they’re criminal enterprises. just go down to the marina, go to a corner bar (like Solomon’s Landing) and ask the bartender or waiter or host or whatever if anyone knows a guy who can fix you with a boat. that guy will be sitting next to you at the bar.

            *(and he’s not “the guy”. he’s a guy who is going to set you up with The Guy who will actually get you sorted. but even with the finders-fee, they’ll do you 30-50% better cost than the hotel or the “sport fishing charter” stands that litter the marina. Suckers go to the desk and look at asking prices. Fishermen go to the bar and haggle. I think we paid ~$200-250 per day for a ~30′ flybridge charter; peak season they may charge $300-350, but its still a steal compared to the ~$500-700 you’d pay in the keys or anywhere else that has that kind of quality fishing)

            I’m telling you… its really not something to pass up if you want to have a great day on the water. Even for nothing other than the sunrise ride out of the marina… then there’s the added end-of-the-day bonus of having your catch cleaned and cooked in front of you for free (*if you give the bar the rest of the fish you don’t eat) It also requires absolutely zero actual knowledge of what you’re doing – just stay out of the way of the guy handling the tackle and pull & reel when he tells you

              1. On our trip (late summer) we caught nothing but piles of dorado and bonita, all in the 20-35lb range (hooked 2-3 Wahoo but lost all of them, but whee are those fun. Fastest fish in the ocean)…

                …but apparently December is very good for yellowfin tuna.

                I think the dorado is plentiful, and easy year-round. We hauled in a dozen a day for about a week until we got bored and tried stalking Marlin to no avail. (we’d see them jump off to the sides of the boat, and we’d circle around, but never even hooked any. Apparently you got to be in season, and get them at the right time of day)

    2. You can’t only buy a Mexican beer at bar in Mexico. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  37. Sweet. I am sure you’ll enjoy. We rent a different house out each year on the East Cape for some days for the last four years. I like the solitude out here, especially as we live in a city. I have three kids under 5, so I want them to just be able to run and swim all day long.

  38. Welch needs to get on this and hire a promising young intern to follow the concerned councilwoman around 24/7, videotaping her every move.

    Also, what’s the over/under that her husband is paying for it and she is trying to catch him?

  39. If you’re doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide: analog version!

  40. Within two days, there will be a letter sent to a person who reported his car stolen over a month before.

  41. Somebody — perhaps the Reason Foundation — should announce a sweepstakes, say, $10,000, and to enter, you need to submit an original “John” letter from the City. Anyone can enter as many times as he wishes.

    This will serve two purposes. First, people will drive past cameras solely to receive letters and more opportunities to win the contest. Second, it provides anyone who receives a letter with a ready-made excuse for his wife (“I was just trying to win the contest!”)

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