Privacy is a concern for neighbors with houses in close proximity to one another.
Especially when a surveillance camera and children are involved.
In Holmes Beach, such a concern was brought to the city commission’s attention during a May 28 meeting.
During the meeting, Eric Pullen, property manager with AMI Locals of Anna Maria, said his company is “having an issue” at a rental property he manages at 212 72nd St., Holmes Beach.
Pullen said several guests shared concerns about a video camera that overlooks the rental property, above a second-story window at an adjacent home.
He said Commissioner Kim Rash owns the home with the camera.
Pullen read an email from a guest who stayed at the rental property the first week of May. The letter stated the guest noticed Rash’s camera, which appeared to be pointed into the backyard of the rental, and went to Rash’s house to ask if the camera could be turned off.
The renter was met by another neighbor, who said Rash was out of town, but the neighbor suggested he could ask Rash to turn off the camera remotely, from his phone. During the week the guests stayed at the rental, Pullen said noise complaints were made by Rash to the police, even though he was out of town.
The renter went on to write that while staying at the property, her children changed in the backyard. She is concerned if the video footage is stored to the cloud, it could be hacked and the footage exploited.
Additionally, the renter inquired why Rash would call in a noise complaint when he was not there to hear any noise, adding that brings the “true intentions” of his surveillance into question.
Pullen said other guests have felt “spied on” and wondered if the camera could be remotely adjusted to point into a bedroom.
When asked by The Islander about the legality of Rash’s surveillance camera, Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said the concern would be if the camera could zoom and tilt to capture more defined images.
Rash said May 29 that the camera is stationary and does not zoom or otherwise change views. He said it was mounted on his house for security shortly after he purchased the home in 2002 and before the neighboring rental properties were built.
“My wife and daughter insisted we install the cameras because I travel for work,” Rash said, adding his daughter had the cameras installed.
He said the camera was mounted high to capture the full view of his driveway, which means it also views a portion of the neighboring backyard.
Rash said he previously reported several noise violations at the property, so he claimed “it’s sour grapes on their part because they got citations.”
Rash received a call May 4 from city attorney Patricia Petruff after she was forwarded the email Pullen read at the meeting.
Rash said Petruff told him she researched case law, determined his cameras were legal and told him not to take them down.
The surveillance camera constantly records footage, which Rash can review, but he said he does not regularly monitor the footage.
“I don’t actively monitor the camera,” Rash said. “I’ve got better things to do with my life.”
When asked by The Islander about reporting a noise violation from his property while he was away, he responded, “I do what I can to protect my neighborhood. All we want to do is live in peace.”