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3/14/2011
San Bernardino, California Dumps Red Light Cameras
San Bernardino decides it is worth spending $110,000 to get out of its red light camera contract.

San Bernardino City CouncilThe city council in San Bernardino, California voted 5 to 0 last week to pull the plug on its red light camera program. The action follows the lead of a growing number of jurisdictions in the Golden State that have grown disillusioned with automated ticketing machines. Most recently, Rocklin's cameras were shut off last Tuesday. San Bernardino officials argued it would be worth paying the private contractor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) about $110,000 to get out of the contract before its 2014 expiration date.

"The provisions of the agreement [with ATS] allow the early termination of the contract with proper notice and each of the locations has a required payment of costs," Police Chief Keith L. Kilmer wrote in a memo to the city council. "The payout estimates for early termination have been computed by the city attorney's office after a comprehensive analysis of the contract."

San Bernardino first installed cameras at four intersections in 2005, sparking a number of controversies in its history. In 2008, the city was caught with illegally short yellow times that maximized the number of citations generated. Fixing the signal timing dropped the system's profitability. In 2009, the city dropped a "cost neutrality" clause from its contract after an Orange County court ruled that the provision violated state law (view ruling). This change left the city open to losing, instead of making, money on the red light camera program. The final blow came in December 2010 when a San Bernardino County court ruled that photo ticket evidence was inadmissible hearsay (view ruling).

Dozens of cities have ended photo enforcement. These include Loma Linda and Whittier, Moreno Valley, Rocklin, San Carlos, Union City, Yucaipa and Costa Mesa. In November 2010, 73 percent of Anaheim residents voted to ban cameras. Berkeley, Burlingame, Cupertino, Compton, El Monte, Fairfield, Fresno, Fullerton, Indian Wells, Irvine, Maywood, Montclair, Paramount, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Roseville, San Jose (photo radar), Santa Fe Springs, Santa Maria, Santa Rosa, and Upland have rejected their automated ticketing programs.

San Bernardino's cameras will stop issuing tickets on June 1.




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