Torrance Municipal Airport's Zamperini Field to Finally Get Security Updates
December 11, 2013
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  • TORRANCE >> The city will finally spend almost $1 million to upgrade security at municipally owned Zamperini Field, a decade after the project was first approved by elected officials in the wake of 9/11.

    The $979,000 project calls for replacing a 25-year-old swipe card access system as well as the installation of three closed-circuit television cameras, vehicle license plate readers, chain-link fencing, gates and lighting near hangers.

    The city spent nearly $300,000 four years ago on new 8-foot-high perimeter fencing, which was 2 feet higher than the previous fence.

    The rest of what was originally a $900,000 package of security upgrades was never finished because the city didn’t have enough money, Assistant City Manager Mary Giordano said.

    But technological improvements over the years have reduced costs, notably the ability to store 13 months worth of license plates recorded at various locations at the airport.

    Some of the project funding is from a $104,000 federal grant secured by the Police Department, while the remainder comes from the Airport Security Fund, said Beth Overstreet, who works with the city’s Public Works Department.

    The project’s glacial pace in a city that touts its security and lack of crime has frustrated Mayor Frank Scotto, who has been a member of the City Council since April 2004 and voted in favor of the initial project. Back then, Mayor Dan Walker and Councilman Ted Lieu voted against spending the money because of concerns that chain-link fencing was too easy to climb.

    “Right after 9/11 it was an acutely important problem to secure these kinds of assets,” Scotto said. “We have finally got to the point now where we’re going to complete that process and make it as secure as we had hoped to years ago.”

    Still, Scotto noted that some members of the public objected to the license plate recording and storage as overly intrusive, although it’s generally accepted that people have no expectation of privacy in a public place.

    Still, it’s relatively unusual for a city such as Torrance, which, for example, has long rejected using red light cameras other communities have embraced.

    “Some people are not happy about this, but anything we can do to prevent crime in the city and bring criminals to justice is important,” Scotto said.

    The five-month-long project is expected to begin in January.

    Council members voted to allocate the money at their Tuesday meeting.