6/6/2013Iowa City Council Votes To Ban Traffic Cameras And Drones
Instead of holding referendum vote, Iowa City, Iowa repeals red light camera ordinance and bans all forms of automated ticketing.
Rather than allow residents of Iowa City, Iowa to decide whether to impose a permanent ban on red light cameras, speed cameras and drones, the city council unanimously decided Tuesday to exercise the option of directly adopting the proposed initiative with some modification. This marks the first time that a city council with a strong pro-camera majority has repealed an automated ticketing ordinance in response to a public petition.
Four of the council members spoke in favor of cameras Tuesday, and only one was strongly against them (another, Michelle Payne, only opposed the staff's attempt at justifying camera use). These supporters made it clear they considered adopting the initiative as a temporary moratorium rather than a permanent ban.
"Because of what's happening at the state level, we're not in a position to put up red light cameras until the state department of transportation makes some rulings on where they can be used, how they can be used, et cetera," Councilman Susan Mims, a major red light camera backer, said. "From what we heard from staff, we don't expect anything on the state for at least a few years, so we're not going to do anything until that happens."
The council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that states no drone, red light camera, speed camera or license plate recognition system can be used in the city without a police officer operating the device personally handing the traffic citation to, or arresting, the alleged offender. The city added a clarification to the initiative text allowing meter maids to use cameras to issue tickets, as long as the meter maid is "present at the scene." The initiative's co-sponsor, Martha Hampel, thanked the council for listening to the 3332 residents who signed a petition in favor of the ban.
"If it weren't for the citizens of Iowa City, it wouldn't have made it this far, it wouldn't have gotten the attention it has," Hampel said.
Although nearby Cedar Rapids has been using automated ticketing machines, Iowa City ran into a roadblock when it tried to obtain approval for a new camera system.
"The state has now told us that they intend to promulgate rules and regulations for whether permits will be issued or not," City Manager Tom Markus explained. "The thought process of the staff was to give this the time and let the state promulgate their rules. If the council or a future council wishes to revisit this issue at some point in the future, this creates a two-year window. At the end of that two years they address it again."
The council has until July 8 to give final approval to the new ordinance, or it must be placed on the November ballot. A copy of the ordinance is available in a 200k PDF file at the source link below.