A pair of Cuyahoga County, Ohio cities are likely to have a public vote on banning red light cameras and speed cameras in November. A sufficient number of residents in Garfield Heights and South Euclid signed a referendum petition that organizers expect to turn in this week, as early as today. Once approved, these municipalities will join Anaheim, California; Baytown and Houston, Texas; and Mukilteo, Washington in voting on the future of cameras on November 2.
Cuyahoga County for Liberty (CC4L) coordinated the signature gathering effort in conjunction with the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) which successfully built a coalition to defeat Cincinnati’s red light cameras in 2008. CC4L Chairman Grant McCallum explained the reason his group decided to fight the cameras in South Euclid.
“It’s clearly an overreach of government, as far as I’m concerned,” McCallum told TheNewspaper. “It’s a way for local governments to extract money from their citizens. It has nothing to do with safety.”
City leaders hope to deploy speed cameras and mount cameras on school buses to issue expensive citations. McCallum says he has more than 500 signatures in hand — double the 251 required to force the vote. His most successful tactic has been to direct traffic into a drive-thru petition signing area in parking lots that allow supporters to quickly and conveniently register. McCallum says the support has been tremendous.
“Everyone sees this as just a money-grab — a scam,” McCallum said. “Some people are concerned about Big Brother and electronic surveillance, but the majority of people understand it’s just another way for the city to make money…. The support is across all the political spectrum.”
Garfield Heights has also lined up more than enough signatures. So far, 2300 have said that they want a vote to end cameras, even though only 875 signatures are needed. Once on the ballot, Ohio voters have always approved bans on cameras. Last November Chillicothe and Heath voted to ban them — with 72 percent of voters in the latter city rejecting automated ticketing. In 2008, residents in Cincinnati, Ohio rejected red light cameras. Seventy-six percent of Steubenville, Ohio voters rejected photo radar in 2006.
Elsewhere, 61 percent of Sykesville, Maryland voters overturned a speed camera ordinance earlier this year. In 2009, eighty-six percent of Sulphur, Louisiana rejected speed cameras. College Station, Texas also rejected cameras. In the mid-1990s, speed cameras lost by a two-to-one margin in Peoria, Arizona and Batavia, Illinois. In 1997, voters in Anchorage, Alaska banned cameras even after the local authorities had removed them.