This is who will draft Chula Vista’s policy on technology and privacy

Twelve people with backgrounds in technology, privacy advocacy and civil rights gathered Monday in Chula Vista for their first meeting as the new board tasked with creating a citywide technology oversight policy.

In the coming months, the Technology and Privacy Advisory Task Force will study city technology and propose rules to protect individuals from data collected by its surveillance equipment, such as drones and license plate readers.

City Manager Maria Kachadoorian welcomed members to the council chambers after appointing them from a pool of 21 finalists. The city encouraged residents with expertise in technology, law enforcement and civil rights to apply. They received 57 applications and Kachadoorian said she narrowed her selection with help from a group of community leaders.

“Each of you was chosen because you represent an important perspective and I believe you will be fair and reasonable in your approach to the issues of privacy and technology,” she said.

Chula Vista has established itself as a “smart city” leader for its growing use of innovative technology and data tools it says it uses to improve public safety and economic growth. For example, city intersections have smart traffic controls that can detect vehicles from a farther distance and adjust traffic lights to reduce travel times. The engineering department has used drones to identify issues with a project, such as deteriorating pipes, and the police has upgraded its phone systems to receive emergencies via text messages.

Concerns over how data is used and by whom have largely centered around the police’s Automated License Plate Reader program after the public learned that Chula Vista police had previously shared data gathered by ALPRs with federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The members are:

  • Sophia Rodriguez, whom the group voted as chair. She is a human services specialist with San Diego County and a member of the Service Employees International Union, Local 221. Her primary goal, she said, is “to prevent any type of exploitation regarding technology.”
  • Rafal Jankowski is vice chair. He is an invasive cardiology field engineer at GE Healthcare and has more than 20 years of experience in information technology and security.
  • Mae Case is a program associated with People Assisting the Homeless and chairs its diversity, equity and inclusion committee.
  • Candice Custodio-Tan serves on the city’s Human Relations Commission and is the executive director of the Asian Solidarity Collective.
  • Carlos De La Toba is a retired federal law enforcement officer. He was responsible for developing policy and training personnel on the proper use of personal information and court and criminal records.
  • Dominic LiMandri is the district manager for the Third Avenue Village Association, which represents property owners and businesses in downtown Chula Vista.
  • Lucia Napolez is a Southwestern College student with a background in digital marketing who has worked with organizations such as the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and the San Diego LGBTQ + Latinx Coalition.
  • Art Pacheco is vice president of engineering for FICO and has more than 20 years of experience with technology firms focused on the financial services market.
  • Pedro Rios is the program director for the American Friends Services Committee, a civil rights nonprofit serving migrants and border communities. He is also involved with the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium and Southern Border Communities Coalition.
  • Patricia Ruiz is a professor turned research scientist who focuses on artificial intelligence and machine learning at nonprofit Digital Promise Global.
  • Charles Walker is a retired database administrator and information technology consultant with 30 years of experience who worked for San Diego city and police, as well as other local government agencies.
  • Maria Whitehorse is a social services worker for the county and is the founder of the county’s Native American Employee Resource Group.

Monday’s introductory meeting included public comments from advocates who asked that members strongly focus on community surveillance concerns as they work to draft guidelines.

“Hearing you all introduce yourselves today gives me real hope,” said Nancy Relaford, who said there is a need for independent reviews of law enforcement data from experts who can vet information.

Advocates also said they want the board to build off an ordinance they created. Task force members said they would be interested in hearing more about that ordinance at a future meeting.

The advisory board is expected to draft a policy for the City Council’s consideration by the fall of this year. Their next meeting is May 9 at 6 p.m.

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