For four years, Lodi residents have been able to observe people crowding around booths at the Street Faire, kids waiting for their parents to pick them up after a movie on a Friday night and even the floats going down School Street during the Parade of Lights — all from the privacy of their own home.
The city installed a webcam on top of Lodi Stadium 12 Cinemas that streams video of the School and Elm streets corner 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Never used it? You can check it out by clicking on “Downtown webcam,” the last righthand link at www.lodi.gov.
“Downtown is still the center of community life in Lodi. From the farmers’ market to the Street Faire, you can get a birds eye view,” city spokesman Jeff Hood said.
The Lodi City Council approved the camera in 2008, and it was installed that spring. But since then, city officials have heard few, if any, comments from residents who are tuning into it.
Hood said occasionally a resident will call in and tell him the video isn’t streaming because the camera needs to be reset.
Mayor Bob Johnson said he hasn’t heard feedback one way or the other about the camera, while Councilman Alan Nakanishi, who was elected in 2010, did not even know about the webcam.
The council originally approved it to promote tourism while also deterring crime in the area because criminals would think twice if they see the camera.
However, the police do not use it because the camera doesn’t record, so it can’t be used as evidence, city spokesman Jeff Hood said.
Another idea is parents could check to make sure their kids are not causing a ruckus outside the movie theater. It is hard to pick out specific people, but if parents know what their kids are wearing, they might be able to see them, Hood said.
“It’s mainly something fun. Sometimes we try to do things that are just fun,” he said.
During the Parade of Lights, he used the city’s Twitter to remind residents that they can see the floats pretty clearly with the webcam.
The original camera, which cost $2,900, is still up there and requires little maintenance. Hood said he recently called to have Alamo Alarm clean the lens, because it was a bit fuzzy.
Councilman Larry Hansen said he thinks people have forgotten that it is available.
“The main thing was just so people could see the Downtown area and secondary as a security system that you could check and make some observations with,” he said.