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Photography Not a Crime in Alameda

Representatives from PM Realty, a property management firm hired by the City of Alameda to handle leasing at Alameda Point, have been mum after Action Alameda News asked about a recent complaint from a photographer told that no form of photography is possible at Alameda Point without a City-issued permit.

In a letter to the editor printed in the Alameda Sun last week, Clint Cleveland wrote, “…I set up a large-format camera at Alameda Point and a security guard showed up within five minutes to tell me that I need permission from PM Realty to take any photographs. I told him that I’m not a commercial photographer, but he said that any photography at all is forbidden without written permission.”

Mr. Cleveland went on to say that he had left messages with PM Realty but had not heard back.

Last Friday, Action Alameda News contacted PM Realty to ask for an explanation.

Stacey McCarthy, General Manager for PM Realty wrote back, “Would you be so kind as to provide me with some background as to the complaint you are citing? I am unaware of any recent complaints of this nature. It is true that the City of Alameda and the US Navy have certain parameters regarding use of their property for commercial filming and photography use. I would be more than happy to discuss those with you at your convenience.”

Action Alameda News provided Ms. McCarthy with a copy of Mr. Cleveland’s letter, and requested information on how PM Realty determines who is a commercial photographer, but received no further communications from her by press time.

The Alameda Municipal Code, as a result of an ordinance enacted in 2008, clearly states that no film permit is required for non-commercial photography activities.

Section “5-30.5 – Permit Exceptions” of the code states:

No permit is required for the following activities as long as the activity will not require the closure of a public street, sidewalk, or place nor substantially impede vehicular or pedestrian traffic thereon:

a. Filming activities conducted for news purposes;
b. Filming activities conducted at commercial studios, either inside or outside, on private property;
c. Filming activities conducted for use in a criminal investigation or civil court proceedings;
d. Noncommercial activities;
e. Commercial still photography or staging when:
1. No aspect of the still photography is conducted on City property, and
2. No aspect of the still photography will require more than two (2) motor vehicles parked on any public street;
f. Filming activities conducted by or for the City.

The municipal code defines commercial still photography as “…all activity attendant to staging or shooting still photographs for commercial purposes.”

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