Today, I was out shooting and stopped by the old artillery battery park in San Pedro, California (near Pt Fermin). Before walking through the open gate, I looked for signs indicating either "Private Property" or "Photography Prohibited". No such signs existed...
So, I wander around for 15 minutes, getting some shots. A volunteer from the "US Army" Museum on premise stopped and asked if I had a questions (I was very polite). Then I left the area and drove up the hill to check out what was up there (the old barracks now being used for something different) and the USCG Vessel Tracking building. Stopped and took a quick shot of some barrack windows.
Then I got back in my rental and drove back down the hill...only to be stopped by a Los Angeles Unified School District police officer. He asked what I was doing, told him I was a photographer getting some shots. He then said all of the battery park area was private property and monitored by CCTV. I explained I didn't know that and presumed it was a park area since the sign at the entrance said "Department of Parks and Rec".
After going through the usual field interrogation routine and getting FI carded, the officer left to discuss with the person reporting. The officer was cool - just doing his job but looked perturbed to get a call about this; he said he was confident I was harmless (no kidding, Officer).
It turns out the person manning the CCTV monitors watched me wander around the old battery area and felt "nervous" about me getting shots, and he called it in. Seriously? Nervous about someone taking photos of an old artillery battery? That person couldn't differentiate between some looking to cause harm and a photographer? The museum volunteer saw me a couple of times, in addition to talking with me, and never once said anything.
The property was owned by the school district yet wasn't posted as such.
It's a sad testament to how much things have changed here in the U.S. since 9/11. Once upon a time, we could take photos with not much concern about being stopped by law enforcement. Today, we've become a society based on fear and paranoia, and anyone with a camera is now suspect.
This is not meant as a rant; more of a sad observation.
As an aside, if you find yourself near Pt Fermin, do not wander up the hill to the battery park to get shots.