Security cameras to be required at many Prince George’s Co. apartments

A Prince George’s County, Maryland, council vote requiring some dwelling units to install cameras in areas of the property has drawn some complaints and criticisms.

The council voted overwhelmingly to require senior living centers and apartment complexes with more than 100 units to install security cameras in parking lots and at building entrances, as well as any other common areas, including playgrounds.

But a public hearing on the matter generated several complaints from landlords and apartment managers that operate in the county.

“This bill’s mandate not only requires significant upfront investment, but also an ongoing annual cost that is unrealistic to maintain,” said Laurie Bonner with Fieldstone Properties. “Aside from the financial burden, you guys are asking property managers to enter into a realm of public safety with a system that doesn’t prevent crime.”

Ryan Washington, who is with the Apartment and Office Building Association, lamented the lack of law enforcement testimony and said data doesn’t support this requirement.

“It will only further cause more deterioration and deter necessary improvements to the property,” said Washington, who noted that rent caps in place already limit how much more income apartment managers can count on.

But members of the county council, including some who expressed concern about the costs, still backed the measure, which was sponsored by Vice Chair Wala Blegay.

“The benefits outweigh the costs,” Blegay said.

“This is definitely something that is needed,” said Council member Ingrid Watson. But at the same time, she also called it a double-edged sword, adding “I don’t want our seniors burdened with additional costs.”

Some of the biggest concerns expressed were the burden this would put on the county itself.

Throughout the year the council has passed new laws requiring more out of the Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement, or DPIE, which some councils members said was already stretched thin and underfunded.

“The idea that DPIE is going to be going out and doing these inspections is unrealistic,” said Council member Mel Franklin, who abstained from voting on the bill. “We don’t fund them enough to do that.”

Franklin added that the only thing the department can do is “respond to complaints.”

Blegay admitted that could be a problem.

“It’s a concern. And I would say it’s a concern that we’re going to address,” Blegay said. “Budget is coming up. If we’re going to put these requirements on DPIE, then we have to put more funding and staffing.”

But she said that wasn’t an excuse not to pass anything right now.

“That means we have to bunker down and support DPIE, so that they can do the enforcement,” Blegay said.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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