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California: Red Light Camera Refunds Reach $3.1 Million
South San Francisco, California red light camera refunds expanded to cover 7000 illegally issued tickets.

South San Francisco Mayor
Red light camera refunds will now reach $3.1 million in the city of South San Francisco, California. City officials decided this week that it had no choice but to refund tickets issued between January 28 and March 10 after being confronted by potential lawsuits over the city's failure to abide by state law.

In January, the city admitted that every photo ticket that American Traffic Solutions (ATS) issued on its behalf between August 2009 and January 28, 2010 was invalid because the city council failed to ratify the contract. The council agreed to refund the tickets, nearly 3000 worth $446 each, and pay for the traffic schools motorists were forced to take. While generous, this move was not enough.

ATS restarted the mailing of camera tickets on January 27, but California law requires a 30-day warning period before tickets may be issued. In the eyes of the law, the program started on the 27th -- without a warning period. The state supreme court upheld a court case that found tickets issued without this warning period were void. The editor of the website pointed out that the city may have been forced into this untenable legal position by vendor reluctance to hold a warning period without being paid to do so.

"ATS shall provide the customer [South San Francisco] with an optional one-time warning period up to 30 days in length at the outset of the program," the contract between the city and ATS stated.

During the warning period, the vendor is responsible for all of the expenses for creating and mailing warning notices to alleged violators. ATS had already paid for a warning period in 2009, when the program was operating illegally.

City council members may vote next month to drop the red light camera program entirely.

"With 60 day written notice, on the first anniversary of the start date, either party shall have the option to terminate this agreement," the city's photo enforcement contract explains.

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