Utah lawmakers may stop homeowners associations from banning security cameras

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) The Utah State Capitol is shown during the Utah Legislature's virtual special session Thursday, April 16, 2020, in Salt Lake City.

Following a still-unsolved killing in Millcreek earlier this year, Utah lawmakers are moving to ban homeowners associations from blocking outdoor security cameras on homes.

In March, Linda Nemelka, 57, was shot and killed while sitting in her car outside of a Millcreek home. Police have not identified any suspects. The search for the shooter has been complicated by the lack of any security footage, which is a result of a ban on surveillance cameras on the outside of homes implemented by the homeowners association in the area.

The association is relying on a Utah law that allows them to block the cameras for aesthetic purposes, but that law was created before cameras became both smaller and rather ubiquitous. The home security system market is estimated to be $53.6 billion this year and is projected to grow to nearly $80 billion by 2025.

The proposal is a change to the state’s law governing homeowners associations and condominiums. Those groups would be prohibited from barring property owners from installing an outdoor security camera on their lot. However, security cameras on common areas that are not part of the house may still be prohibited.

Nemelka’s daughter, Susan Manfield, called the change a good idea.

“This will allow people to secure their premises and their homes in an adequate manner,” she said.

During Tuesday’s discussion, some lawmakers expressed concerns that security cameras could violate the privacy of neighbors, but Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said that wasn’t the case.

“That’s why it’s limited to your building. It prohibits putting cameras in open areas," he said. “For example, you can’t put it on a post by the swimming pool.”

The Business and Labor Interim Committee unanimously approved the bill, which means it will be considered by the full Legislature in January’s session.

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