Suspicious Surveillance Cameras

Suspicious Surveillance Cameras Placed at Montecito Hot Springs?

I started my hike to the Montecito Hot Springs on Friday, February 17, 2023, by taking the Ridge Trail. At the trailhead, there were no signs indicating that the Los Padres National Forest was shut down, so I assumed it was open. There were many hikers using the recently renovated Ridge Trail.

I was surprised to see a surveillance camera pointed down at a hot water pool when I finally arrived at the hot springs. Attached to the camera was a tag that had printed on it “Do Not Tamper or Remove Signs, Enforced by County Sheriff, County of Santa Barbara, Public Works, Trail and Creek Monitoring in Progress.”

I contacted the Dept. when I got home. of Public Works concerning the camera. The department was upset to learn that a camera with its name on it was photographing people taking hot springs baths. Lael Wageneck, information officer for Public Works sent an email to me: “I relayed this information to the sheriff and warned them that it might be a spy camera…”

I returned to the Hot Springs the following day, on Saturday, February 18. The camera remained in place.

In the pool below the camera, three young women were swimming while not being completely naked. I told them that pictures of them were being taken. I swung the camera around to face the tree trunk it was fastened to, and they thanked me.

Because I thought the trail was hazardous, I made a few minor trail repairs above where the camera was. When I turned around, I saw that the camera was now facing me directly. Someone had rotated the camera 180 degrees, which astounded me. When I was moving some rocks off the trail to get away from the camera, Ed Gonzales, a supervisor for the Montecito Creek Water Company, yelled at me from across the creek and told me I wasn’t supposed to be doing what I was. He informed me that I was not permitted to fix an unsafe trail when I said that I was doing so. What was he doing in the vicinity of the public hot springs, which are outside the purview of the private water company, which is supplying hot spring water to the homes on Hot Springs Road and Riven Rock Road from the canyon next door? Did Gonzales point the camera my way as I was constructing the trail? This particular camera is incapable of turning on its own. After the young ladies had left, he was the only person I saw in the vicinity.

Public Works determined that it wasn’t one of their cameras after consulting with all the departments. On February 19th Mr. Wageneck wrote to me: “So long as you bring the camera to us after removing it, that is.” On the 21st, he wrote to me: “What happened to the camera? If not, could you tell me roughly how far up the trail it was and where it was? If it’s still there, we should be able to take it today. I can meet you at my downtown office if you have it and would like to drop it off.”

In response to inquiries from Public Works on February 21 Lieutenant Ugo (Butch) Arnoldi of the Sheriff’s Department wrote in an email which was cc’d to me and others: “The primary purpose of the cameras is to capture illegal activity of various types: Being in a “Posted Forest Closure Area”, constructing pools and diverting water for the natural environment, vandalism to the existing private water system, etc…Mr. Harry Rabin was authorized to install these cameras and is responsible for monitoring the activity and forwarding that information to the affected agency”.

The number of cameras was five, it turned out. A camera was pointed at newly installed pipes that the water company installed to replace pipes that were washed away during the significant rainstorm of January 9. My friend and I noticed the camera. Another camera was focused on Hot Springs Trail, which was located a short distance up the canyon. It is unknown where the other two cameras were installed. They might have been pointing at the hot springs pools, one or both of them.

On February 23, Ashlee Mayfield, Director of Montecito Trails Foundation emailed me: “I read that you discovered cameras at the HS. Are they still there? The county didn’t put them up, I’d like to be sure someone collects them before the original “poster” collects them and they vanish. The future won’t be secure. I’ve heard it’s a big deal to pretend to be the county.” On February 24 she emailed me: “Regarding cameras, even though I don’t personally know any of the players, I can assure you that the one homeowner on the West Bank is involved. They have some excellent neighbors up there, so I always try to avoid grouping them together. It follows that the cameras have been removed. I’m hoping so.”

Who gave the cameras permission? Who issued the required written authorization as well as the permits?

Inquiring about the cameras, I got in touch with Rabin’s employer, Heal the Ocean, and spoke to a receptionist. I left a message for Hillary Hauser, the organization’s director.

Harry Rabin called me on February 23; our conversation lasted nearly 23 minutes despite the fact that I wasn’t expecting it. He gave me some good information, including the name of the official who told him to put “Public Works” and “Enforced by County Sheriff” on the tags. I was told by Rabin that when he set up the cameras, he wasn’t doing so on behalf of Heal the Ocean.

But something had to be published, and Rabin was a huge help. On February 24, Rabin responding to an email I sent him wrote: “The Sheriff’s Department gave its approval. Our sole responsibility was to install them as requested by the Sheriff’s representative. We decided to remove them because we disapproved of the excessive bureaucratic red tape in place and asked a federal lands representative, or forest service, for written permission before doing so.” Concerning the abandoned pipes from Montecito Creek Water Company left in Hot Springs Creek he stated in the same email: “At this point, I comprehend and agree with what you informed me about the past and present uses of that area. As for the pipes when I get back to the United States. that will be on my list of items to do within Heal the Ocean as that does indeed have to do with what HTO deals with”. I’m looking forward to Heal the Ocean helping with Hot Springs Creek cleanup!

About who approved the cameras, Arnoldi has a different account. In the March 2, 2023 edition of the Montecito Journal (local news, page 8) he is interviewed and says “Unfortunately, the Sheriff’s Office and County of Santa Barbara Public Works logos were on the cameras…rather than display the (I added emphasis) USFS logo, which approved their placement.

He says in the same interview: “…last month we received a call reporting several people being observed jumping over the fence and gate at the Locals in the area use the Hot Springs Trailhead to access the hot springs. Together with the Sheriff’s Office, USFS Law Enforcement personnel responded. An on-site Montecito resident and concerned citizen arrived at the Hot Springs County Parking Lot on East Mountain Drive and contacted law enforcement. They–having knowledge of the past, as well as current issues involving that trail access that is marked as being “Closed by USFS Forest Order,” and the history of people changing the water flow from the natural creek to create new pools (etc.)…asked if The United States Forest Service would be interested in them placing trail cameras there…That would be a welcome proactive enforcement tool, according to the two Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers. The USFS Forest Boundary must be present on the cameras, and no logos or other graphics may be visible.”

Was the hot spring pool’s camera also used to enforce the dress code for swimming there?

But Darrell Hodges, Santa Barbara District Ranger for the U.S. Forest Service contradicts Arnoldi when he’s interviewed (same article): He says “Neither the Santa Barbara Ranger District, the Los Padres National Forest, nor I authorized or sanctioned the placement of the cameras” (the plot thickens).

Someone is lying.

There are many questions that remain unanswered. Who funded Rabin’s surveillance? Who exactly are the law enforcement representatives from the forest service who encourage the installation of cameras without the legally required identification tags? Arnoldi sounds very involved in this issue based on the quotes he provided. What part did he play in this? Who is this “concerned citizen” who was so willing to violate bather’s privacy rights, putting them into the ranks of Without payment, how would Stormy Daniels fare? Exists a hidden voyeur? Ashlee Mayfield’s above mentioned statement begs the question “What other commotion has this person, posing as a concerned citizen, caused?

What will happen to the footage of the individuals who were secretly recorded in the springs? Was someone using remote viewing to keep an eye on those soaking in the hot springs? How many naked people were captured on camera? Someone from the Sheriff’s Department was there. told me the cameras were returned to the camera installer/operator. Is this true?

Among the Montecito elites, I believe I have found evidence of voyeurism.

The general public has a right to be aware of everyone involved in this surveillance operation.

Read More: Are There Cameras in Movie Theaters?

Source: edhat

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