Drones over Paradise Valley: city drafts ordinance to restrict usage

Some residents of Paradise Valley are on edge, and worried about drones,  the city is ready to do something about it.

The mayor and council are considering whether to regulate drone usage. But these are the same city officials that approved license plate readers, allowing police to monitor people coming and going through town.

It's something the American Civil Liberties Union is concerned about.

Right now, the Paradise Valley City Attorney is drafting an ordinance to restrict drones in the city.

It comes as the town is prosecuting someone for flying a drone within 8 feet of a woman and scaring her.

The mayor says this could be the first legislation of its kind in Arizona.

"We're currently drafting an amendment to our code to regulate the use of drones in Paradise Valley," said Mayor Michael Collins.

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins says the town started looking into regulating drones after someone was recently charged for using a drone in the city limits.

"We currently have one active prosecution for a drone case, in that instance someone was flying a drone in proximity to a resident and endangered their safety, so the town attorney is prosecuting them at this time," said Collins.

Mayor Collins says not only are there safety concerns when it comes to drones, but privacy concerns as well.

"The immediate concern is the use of drones or flying of unmanned aerial systems over private property is a potential hazard to residents safety, but the concern about privacy and the 4th amendment rights are also key consideration for us in adopting this legislation," he said.

Legislation that seems quite ironic considering Paradise Valley was the first community in the country to use photo radar and more recently installed spying cactus, equipped with cameras that grab your license plate number as you go by. It's the same technology the ACLU has expressed privacy concerns about.

"Actually I think the same degree of privacy concerns and 4th Amendment protection for our residents applies both to the use of public safety technology like LPR's, just as it does drones," said Collins.

"So this council is very active in ensuring whatever technology is allowed to be used in Paradise Valley both safeguard the privacy of the residents, as well as the constitutional rights against police powers," he said.

The mayor says the law will equally restrict the use of drones by the commercial sector as well as the public sector, and he says similar rules will apply to the town government. The town attorney is expected to propose drone legislation at their meeting May 28th.

The council is expected to vote on it on June 11th.
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