10/24/2011California: Despite Payment Decline, LA County Rakes in Millions
Ticket payments drop by a third after word spreads that red light camera fines are optional in Los Angeles County, California.
After news spread that paying a red light camera tickets in Los Angeles County, California is optional, the average number of people paying citations declined by nearly a third. According to an analysis of Los Angeles County Superior Court payment transaction count and revenue data by TheNewspaper, the state, Los Angeles County, municipalities and photo enforcement vendors are losing $1 million per month following the revelation that there is no penalty for tossing a mailed ticket in the trash. The news broke as part of the hearing process while Los Angeles municipal officials debated whether to shut off automated ticketing machines in the City of the Angels.
"What we have here is truly a voluntary citation program," Los Angeles Police Commissioner Alan J. Skobin said at a June 7 meeting. "It's voluntary because there's no teeth in it and there's no enforcement mechanism."
The city of Los Angeles ultimately decided to wind down its red light camera program in July, but twenty-two other jurisdictions within the county are still issuing photo tickets. These include Beverly Hills, which pocketed $832,405.67 from May through September this year ($2 million on an annualized basis). Inglewood's red light camera vendor collected on 2146 tickets worth over $1 million ($2.5 million on an annualized). The Metropolitan Transit Authority collected $515,838.81 in profit ($1.2 million annualized). Overall, the individual jurisdictions split $6.4 million in revenue between their general funds and special traffic funds. On an annualized basis, their profit from the near $500 fines is $15.4 million -- but this figure does not count the cut for other governmental agencies.
Vehicle owners paid a total of 25,693 tickets to the superior court from May to September. That adds up to nearly $30 million a year in annual revenue, half of which goes to the state and county government, and the remainder is split between the municipalities and American Traffic Solutions, Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia and other vendors that do all the work of issuing the tickets.
Los Angeles Court raw citation data supplied courtesy of highwayrobbery.net. A copy of the analysis is available in a 50k PDF file at the source link below.