Morro Bay agrees to let Surfline put webcam on city property

Camera atop a public restroom near Morro Rock will show conditions at Morro Strand State Beach

nwilson@thetribunenews.comApril 24, 2014 

Surfers and other beach-lovers who enjoy the convenience of watching the waves in Morro Bay at home in their pajamas will be pleased to know about a new webcam licensing agreement with the city.

Earlier this week, the Morro Bay City Council unanimously approved a three-year agreement with Surfline/Wavetrak Inc. that will allow the online company to position a camera on top of a public restroom near Morro Rock.

The camera will show wave and beach conditions at Morro Strand State Beach that can be accessed by viewers on around the clock.

In exchange, Surfline will pay the city $260 per month — or $3,120 per year.

A Surfline spokeswoman said Thursday that the company hopes to get the webcam up and running within a month.

The contract also stipulates the website will provide links to the city of Morro Bay, up to 12 premium “VIP” Surfline accounts for city employees for city business, image archiving, and priority control by the city during emergency or public safety events.

The council approved the agreement at its Tuesday meeting.

A webcam previously had been positioned on the Morro Bay Power Plant building under an agreement with Dynegy that lasted for 13 years.

But with the closing of the plant in February, Dynegy terminated its contract with the company, Harbor Director Eric Endersby said.

Surfline’s webcam equipment consists of a camera that will extend 12 inches from the roof, a server and wireless router equipment housed in the Harbor Department office and a small receiver dish mounted on the Harbor office’s roof.

Morro Bay police Chief Amy Christey said the video could help police work including a criminal incident, a missing person on the beach or tsunami conditions.

It might have even helped when a bear made a visit to Morro Rock last May.

The Morro Bay Police Department was the first agency to respond to the unusual visit from the bear in the public beach area.

“We can possibly use it to ascertain things and respond,” Christey said. “The webcam gives the decision-maker another tool.”

City fire Chief Steve Knuckles also said high surf conditions can make it difficult for boats to enter the harbor at times, and another benefit would be to monitor the traffic offshore.

“There are a number of different ways the webcam will help,” Knuckles. “We’ll have more situational awareness.”

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