SF Muni Photography Ban: Update

SFist: Muni Photography Ban: Update: SFist is out with an update on Tuesday’s story regarding Steve Malik’s run in with the police over his taking photographs in San Francisco’s Muni. Unfortunately it does not appear that the situation is any clearer than it was two days ago.

I was hoping that Tuesday’s story was indeed just the result of an overzealous cop but it appears that a few other bloggers are confirming that they have had similar experiences with SF Muni and the response SFist received from Muni themselves is less than clear on the subject.

I have to add again that I’ve personally taken hundreds of photo in SF Muni and have never been hassled once.

Although SFist reported that they combed the MTA website, SFPD website, CalTrans website and the USA Patriot Act they claim that they could find nothing prohibiting photography inside Muni. This being said, Maggie Lynch of the MTA press office did respond to their request on the issue with a fairly discouraging clarification, “For both safety and security reasons we require that a request be made to our Agency in advance of any filming on Muni Property.” SFist added that although they had asked Lynch specifically what regulations govern filming and photography on Muni platforms, Lynch did answer this question. It is very discouraging that someone from Muni would seem to suggest that some kind of request be formally submitted and made prior to photographing in Muni.

A performer in a downtown SF Muni station taken last October.

Although I understand that without an actual ban being proposed in San Francisco that this may not seem as important an issue as it might otherwise. At the same time, however, I think that there is value in building a public awareness that public photography in all of it’s form is indeed legal.

Too many photographers have been hassled over the years over what should be a well-known and regarded right. It is especially egregious when those that are in positions of authority display this ignorance and this is why I personally feel so strongly about this issue.

SFist is organizing a mass photo shoot at the Embarcadero station Muni fare gate this Saturday, the 19th, at noon. It will be interesting to see the outcome of their little planned experiment — unfortunately I’ve got previous plans to take the family up to Tahoe. Hopefully their attention to this matter will shed greater visibility on the issue at hand.