The public support for this site has been overwhelming positive. 200,000 visitors in our first three weeks of operation is a testimony to this. Many of you have written in support, and described how you're using the site, so many that I'm overwhelmed with email. A few have raised some questions about the site that I'd like to address here.
When someone tells you that we shouldn't be publishing something, you should wonder what their motivation is. The difference between the "haves" and the "have nots" in the 21st century is not going to be about money, but information. This flow of information is critical in a democracy and permits each voter to form his or her own opinion about the matters which are important to us. To quote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis:
"A little sunlight is the best disinfectant."
This project's goal is to bring the truth (in the form of photographs) to the public.
We're aware that we burn fossil fuels operating our helicopter, and
sincerely believe that the environmental good that will come from
this project far outweighs the bad. Furthermore, we have almost
our use of fossil fuels in our terrestrial transportation by driving
electric cars which we charge using our
photovoltaic solar system.
We are aware that we have photographed a number of homes in the process of documenting the California Coast. The California Coast is a unique and beautiful place, and those people who have chosen to live on it have made the coast a part of their lives, and their lives a part of the coast. It should come as no surprise that the public at large would be attracted to view this beautiful place some call home. We have little sympathy for those who would feel that in order to enjoy the beauty of the coast that they must deny others access to it.
All of the photographs on this site have been taken from a public place and in compliance with applicable Federal and State laws. In 1986, the United States Supreme Court held, per Chief Justice Burger, that warrantless aerial observation of fenced-in backyards was not unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment (California v. Ciraolo, 476 US 207 (1986)).
Wrote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Burger:
"In an age where private and commercial flight in the public airways is routine, it is unreasonable for respondent to expect that his marijuana plants were constitutionally protected from being observed with the naked eye from an altitude of 1,000 feet."
Please be sure to review some of the highest resolution photographs before forming your own opinion. You cannot see much detail, for example, identify individuals or see into a house. It is our policy not to have identifiable individuals on private property photographed on our website. If you believe that you can be recognized in our photographs and this bothers you, please call it to our attention and the photograph will be modified to rectify this.
A very good book about how technology will affect the privacy of
all of us is
The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between
Privacy and Freedom? by David Brin.
A number of visitors have expressed a concern that this site contains photographs of some locations that might be of interest to terrorists. We have thought long and hard as to whether the publication of these photographs is a real security risk that outweighs the enormous good that could come from this project. It is important that the project be a complete record of the coast, and it could not be if we redacted this material.
We do not believe that our publication of these photographs, in and of itself, creates a real risk because:
Furthermore, there are enormous reasons that the public should specifically be permitted to view these facilities:
Here are some of the rants that we have received and would like to share with you for your amusement. They have been reformatted to fit your screen.
This first rant was recorded by my answering machine. I'm not sure who the author is, but the Caller ID on my answering machine indicated a number of 707-538-2768 and name of Jeanette McFall. This lady really doesn't want to be on the Internet. If this is really Jeanette Lynn McFall of Santa Rosa, CA, age 43, she shouldn't worry, because I have no plans to photograph Santa Rosa. She should instead be concerned because there is a lot more personal information publicly available on the Internet than these photographs.
If anyone knows what this guy is talking about, please let me know. I haven't studied much geology. He would obviously make a great screenwriter of James Bond movies. Oops, too late. This seems like it is right out of the plot to "View to a Kill".
From: "Kumar Subramaniam" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Suggestion Date: Tue, 05 Nov 2002 08:38:01 -0800 Hi Susan, I deeply appreciate your website. You are trying to do something that is great and useful to protect California environment. I lived in CA and took all those fabulous rides around the coast. Your photographs are amazing. But I have a suggestion that you may want to strongly consider. I come from a background which you may not understand fully. I have 2 Masters degree in engineering related to geotech etc. and perfoming advanced research on earthquake prediction etc. I track quakes that involve people lives and have been more successful than even the best agencies spending billions on it. To me the exposure of California coastline to the public this way is extremely dangerous for the following reasons: After 9/11 exposing your coastline without proper computer system policies (preferred users) will achieve dangerous results i.e. opposite to what you are trying to do. I beg you not to expose CA to the whole world at this time. It is pretty easy for terrorists to target your sites. I speak with great scientific backing after studying with the top most scientist related to geology on earth. There are many many ways that one could cause serious harm to CA with least of equipments not from the traditional weapons of mass destruction but with something totally different which people like me and few know and do not tell it out for security reasons. Even if they may or may not be able to do it today they can certainly in say 5 years when all this 9/11 would have been forgotten. The security system in this nation cannot cover all those things as it is very very expensive to save the whole Coast that too there are no geologist with such a background who work for your top security agencies. I know that. So, I beg you to not expose these coastlines as it will achieve something that you can never ever imagine. No geologist will tell you all this openly because of security reasons................. To me you should have restricted access to your site and you have to have a reasonably good mechanism as to whom you expose this site. You can contact the experts in the field of system policy and how to implement it. Even otherwise, please wait with your environmental concerns for at least a year till the national security system is in place. Please. I studied in the top health and safety and earth science school. Thanks Kumar
Likewise, I've always wanted to visit Cuba, and thought I would have to wait until after Castro dies. I have thanked the writer for his offer of media attention and offered our helicopter services to Mr. O'Reilly. As you can see from my portfolio, my wife and I are experienced aerial photographers:
Date: Thu, 07 Nov 2002 12:12:12 -0800 From: smd <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: National Security Dear Ken, RE Californiacoastline.org We turned you in to GWB & FBI & Coast Gurad for your flagrant breach of National Security in time of War. I hope they bust your traitor arse and send it to Guantanamo. You may be able to mitigate and limit the damage you have done by taking down the server to this entire site immediately and apologizing to the President personally. Such total disreguard for human life is beyond belief! Specifics? Well for starters how about Diablo Canyon N35 12.48 W120 52.21 #2204big These high resolution photos show every detail of the place, every fence, wire, barricade, spent fuel pools, every rock. I wouldn't be surprized to find out bin Laden has set it as his screensaver. We notified PG&E and SCE security. If this is not taken care of immediately, we will also forward this to the media and the backlash and outrage will be incredible. I hope Bill O'Reilly posts high resolution photos of your swimming pool online! Do unto others... Most Sincerely, SMD
There seems to be a common theme in these last two email rants. Quoting from my Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, usually referred to as the "DSM-IV", under Section 297.1 "Delusional Disorder", Subtype "Grandiose",
" This subtype applies when the central theme of the delusion is the conviction of having some great (but unrecognized) talent or insight of having made some important discovery. Less commonly, the individual may have the delusion of having a special relationship with a prominent person (e.g., an adviser to the president) or being a prominent person (in which case the actual person may be regarded as an imposter). [...]"...but of course, I'm not a psychologist and I'm not qualified to make this diagnosis, and there are other preconditions (like the delusion needs to last a month) for the diagnosis.
Now that Streisand has filed her lawsuit against the site, the rest of the litigants are coming out of the woodwork. Here is a threat from Bruce Craig of Encinitas, California:
From: Cbruce348@aol.com Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2003 03:23:35 EDT Subject: Streisand To: Adelman@Adelman.COM The beautiful move MS Steisand has begun is only the tip of the iceberg. It is our intention (speaking for many bluff top, coastal homeowners and members of the Seaside Preservation Commity) to keep you as deep in court costs as possible. Regardless of the outcome, you will pay to fight similar damage claims from here on out. As each of us will file separate suits to teach you the true cost of your ignorant and careless actions. If we wanted our homes on the Internet, we would have put them there. I can assure you Mr. Adelman, each battle is irrelevant, you will lose this war.Since he speaks for members of the Seaside Preservation Commity [sic] we'd like to show you exactly what he considers "Preservation" (which according to my American Heritage Dictionary means "To keep in perfect or unaltered condition; maintain unchanged"). What is Mr. Craig trying to hide?
These have to be some of the worst looking seawalls that I have ever seen in all of my photography of the coast.
Mr. Craig continued to write me to express his anger at those who would enforce the law:
The greatest lesson you are about to learn is that regardless of your antics, your website will not magically generate some new arm of the government which will swoop down on all the illegal sea walls. The owners of these walls will continue to throw money at the courts to keep their walls as they will to eliminate you.Mr. Craig -- there is one certainty -- the ocean will reclaim these homes, seawall or not. I just hope the taxpayers don't get stuck with the bill for cleaning up the rubble which is left.