City of Chico Votes to Fine Alarm Companies for False Alarms

Industry Contemplates Legal Challenge to Unconstitutional Ordinance

By David Margulies. This article will appear in upcoming issues of CAA Mirror and CSAA Dispatch.

Despite learning that provisions of a similar ordinance was ruled unconstitutional, the Chico city council voted unanimously to begin fining alarm companies for false alarms. The vote came after the council ordered the police department to end the unpopular verified response policy it had put in place. Leaders in the security industry are already meeting with attorneys in anticipation of challenging the new ordinance in court.

“This type of ordinance makes it more difficult for our industry and public safety officials to deal effectively with false alarms,” said Jay Hauhn, president of the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) International. “In making alarm companies responsible for their customers’ conduct, the city creates a more bureaucratic and complex system that slows the entire process and adds cost and complexity. More importantly, Chico’s new ordinance will do nothing to stem incidents of false alarm activations. There is a reason that virtually all alarm ordinances in the U.S. call for fining alarm users if they are the ones causing the problem.” The industry supports fines for alarm companies when false alarms are due to their specific actions.

The council was well aware that a similar ordinance passed in Fontana, California was overturned in court when it was challenged by the alarm industry. In that case, Fontana wound up paying its own legal fees as well as approximately $350,000 in legal fees incurred by the alarm industry.

“It is difficult to understand why Chico city officials would put taxpayer funds at risk by passing an ordinance similar to one that has been overturned in court in another California city,” said Hauhn. “While the Fontana case did not set a legal precedent because it was not appealed; it certainly showed how a fair minded court would interpret the issue. With no controversy or threat of litigation, the city could have implemented an ordinance patterned after the model ordinance, which provides for reasonable user permit fees and assesses an appropriate escalating fine structure against the alarm users who cause false alarms and achieved the same, or better, results in terms of both cost recovery and reducing false alarms.”

The discussion at the city council meeting was basically a philosophical difference between the police department’s view that the alarm industry is responsible for dealing with false alarms and the reality that most false alarms are caused by user error. The police offered no evidence that their proposal would be any more effective in reducing false alarms than fining alarm users.

“The police and council clearly do not understand why the process they propose is more cumbersome, slower and potentially less effective than the best practices utilized throughout the United States,” said Hauhn.  “Hopefully city officials will recognize, as they did with verified response, that some ideas that look good on paper are impractical or have unintended negative consequences.”

Industry leaders are seeking support from members of the industry for this legal challenge in order to head off other cities from taking this unfortunate and illogical path.

Contributions can be made to:
C.A.A. ~ Chico Legal Fund
333 Washington Blvd. # 433
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Phone: 800/437-7658

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CSAA Members: Join us for the CSAA 2015 Long Range Planning Meeting!

The Central Station Alarm Association International Long Range Planning Meeting will be held January 21-23, 2015. Open to all CSAA members who wish to participate in planning the future of CSAA, this year’s meeting has been planned in a convenient location with a new consolidated schedule to make it easier for everyone to attend. The meeting will be held at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio, Texas.

Centrally located in the south-central part of Texas, San Antonio is easily accessible from all parts of the United States and Canada, and the hotel is just 8 miles from the San Antonio International Airport (SAT). The Marriott is just steps away from the world-famous San Antonio Riverwalk with premier shopping, dining and entertainment, and the Alamo, one of the nation’s most storied and revered landmarks, is within easy walking distance.

If you are interested in CSAA and want to have a say in its future, plan to join us in San Antonio January 21-23 for the Long Range Planning Meeting.

See the schedule below for meeting times, followed by the topics under consideration.

There is no registration fee. Breakfast and lunch are included both days. To register and for assistance with the best rate at the Marriott Rivercenter, contact John McDonald at meetings@csaaintl.org or 703-242-4670 x17.

CSAA 2015 Long Range Planning Meeting Schedule

Wednesday, January 21

5:30pm – 7:00pm                             Welcome Cocktails

Thursday, January 22

  • 8:00am – 8:30am                              Breakfast
  • 8:30am – 12:00pm                           Morning Session
  • 12:00pm – 1:00pm                           Buffet Lunch
  • 1:00pm – 5:00pm                             Afternoon Session
  • Evening                                             On Your Own

Friday, January 23

  • 8:00am – 8:30am                              Breakfast
  • 8:30am – 12:00pm                           Morning Session
  • 12:00pm -1:00pm                             Buffet Lunch
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm                             Afternoon Session

The Topics below are being considered for our Long Range Planning Meeting. This list is subject to change.

  • Increasing member participation at committee level
  • Growing member value
  • Annual Meeting format
  • Paid speakers on relevant subjectsWhat committees are relevant?
  • Succession planning for existing committee chairs
  • Remaining relevant as industry changes (new entrants)
  • Driving adoption of ASAP
  • Demise of PSTN (POTS) and member impact/preparation
  • Position statement from AICC?
  • SIAC Mission statement & partnership given changing environment
  • Growth of the CSAA Education
  • Revenue diversification
  • Video acceptance/direction
  • Video Verification Training
  • Recent ABC 20/20 report reaction
  • DIY/MIY Position

Call for Public Comment: Revision of CSAA Standard CS-V-01

Due to new technologies and successful efforts to reduce false alarms, CSAA International has begun the process of developing a revision of the Alarm Verification and Notification Procedures Standard (CS-V-01). This standard defines methods by which false dispatches can be greatly reduced — with the intent to increase efficiencies by reducing costs and eliminating wasteful efforts associated with potential false alarms. Public comments are now being accepted on the revision draft.

This standard is to be used by alarm monitoring facilities and by state and local units of government in their development of consistent administration criteria for alarms. This standard, adopted by various states and local units of government, recognizes the lifesaving benefits provided by professionally-monitored security and fire alarm systems.

Comments will be accepted until 5:00 pm Eastern Time on January 16, 2015.

When you have completed your comments form, please forward to Becky Lane at membership@csaaintl.org. Thank you for your participation in this important security industry initiative. If you have any questions, please contact membership@csaaintl.org.

CSAA International Board of Directors Meeting and Annual General Membership Meeting  

Notice is hereby given that the Board of Directors of the Central Station Alarm Association International will meet on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 from 12:00 pm to 3:30 pm.  This meeting will be followed immediately by the Annual General Membership Meeting from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm. These meetings constitute the rescheduled 2014 Annual Meeting of the Association in place of the previously scheduled Bermuda meeting, since canceled due to Hurricane Gonzalo.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
CSAA Board of Directors Meeting: 12:00 pm – 3:30 pm
CSAA General Membership Meeting: 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

The Crystal City Marriott
Potomac Ballroom, Salon D
1999 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA

For more information, please contact membership@csaaintl.org.

Help UL create a new standard for video data security

UL is conducting a crowdsourcing activity to collect input on standards development for video data security, and would appreciate your input and expertise. We hope you will consider participating as we are certain your expertise will be a great help.

The crowdsourcing aspect of this standards development activity involves casting a wide net for potential stakeholders, experts, and the like as we conduct a survey to collect scope input, followed by a second round of outreach using a dynamic, interactive online tool where images and ideas are presented for feedback and ratings on requirements to include in the standard.

Initially, UL is looking for your ideas regarding the scope of the standard; in particular, what key aspects of video data security should be included.  For example, should the focus be on video data transmission or storage?  The objective is to define a scope that captures the most critical elements of video data security, with the prospect of continuing to expand the standard in the future.

For a quick overview about this crowdsourcing activity, check out our YouTube video:  http://youtu.be/zJhYpn3AmeU

To share your expertise, click the following survey link or copy/paste into your web browser: http://www.instant.ly/s/hC4vN

If you know of others who may wish to participate, we ask that you forward this message or share via social media.

For questions or more information about the crowdsourcing activity for video data security, contact Lou Chavez or Neil Lakomiak.

For other inquiries or feedback, please email Anne Marie Jacobs or Randi Myers.