7/30/2010California: Two More Cities Dump Red Light Cameras
Yucaipa and Costa Mesa, California end their red light camera programs.
Red light cameras are becoming less popular among municipal leaders in California. On Monday, the Yucaipa city council voted unanimously to cancel its photo enforcement contract with Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia. The previous week, Costa Mesa officially pulled the plug on its automated ticketing machines.
The controversial cameras caused an increase in accidents in Costa Mesa, according to city data. In 2005, the California Supreme Court allowed an appellate division ruling to stand against Costa Mesa's cameras. The appellate judge had found that Costa Mesa violated the state code by failing to provide 30-days notice for each intersection where the devices were used, as required by the law. It also found the city improperly allowed another agency to control and set signal timing (view ruling).
Yucaipa's problems were less dramatic. The city council silently swallowed a $198,000 bill from Redflex in order to get out from under the program that failed to meet revenue expectations since it signed a three-year contract with the Australian company in December 2007. The first citations were issued in April 2009.
"The program was not very productive in terms of paying for itself," Public Works Director Bill Hemsley explained. "The anticipated revenue was a loss."
The city blamed the San Bernardino County courts for having compassion on local residents whose per capita income is $18,949. Instead of attempting to collect the stiff, near $500 fine for mostly minor, technical violations all at once, the court offered installment plans that delayed full payment to the city. In other cases, the court slashed the payment due.
"Many citations were either forgiven or the fines were drastically reduced," Hemsley said. "Fortunately there was a provision in the contract to revisit within a year the program. Staff did that... There was not a good solution found."
By the time all installments are received, the city expects $155,000 in revenue. After paying Redflex $198,000, that represents a net loss of $43,000. The Australian company initially insisted on payment of $236,620.24 to cancel the contract but after negotiation agreed to offer a 22 percent discount to the city.
A number of other cities have dropped automated ticketing machines. In April, Loma Linda and San Carlos ended their red light camera programs. Moreno Valley gave Redflex its walking papers in January. Yucaipa's cameras were unplugged on June 30. Costa Mesa's were turned off July 22.
A copy of Hemsley's memo to the Yucaipa city council is available in a 200k PDF file at the source link below.