By on April 26, 2010

Red light camera program troubles continue to grow in South San Francisco, California. On Wednesday, the city council will meet to discuss how to pay the $250,000 bill submitted by the San Mateo County Superior Court to cover the administrative costs of processing $3 million worth of red light camera citation refunds. Because the city failed to properly ratify its contract with American Traffic Solutions, the company in charge of automated ticketing, the 6800 tickets issued between August 14 2009 and February 28, 2010 were declared invalid by the court.

“The city will also return to the court the portion of the fines that it has previously received related to the dismissed citations,” City Attorney Steven T. Mattas explained in a memo to the council. “Staff will make these payments to the court within five days of approval of this agreement…. The city is also responsible for any ‘actual and necessary’ administrative costs connected with the issuance of the refunds.”

The quarter-million figure represents only an estimate of the costs involved, and the final amount could be greater. Refunds include the $446 cost of the ticket, plus interest calculated at a 7-percent annual rate, and the full cost of traffic school that any driver may have taken to avoid points on his license. Those who did not attend a school will have the license points manually removed from their driving record. In California, the superior court system is responsible for dividing up the profit from each citation among a number of city, state and county agencies. Because the court does not hold the cash for more than a month, it has asked the city to supply $1.5 million to begin the refunds. Court administrators will negotiate with the state for the return of its portion of the citation revenue. If the state fails to send a check, the court will withhold the correct amount from future traffic ticket payments.

“In addition, issuance of the unauthorized citations caused the court unnecessary expense, in the amount of a $4.81 per-citation financial charge, which it paid the vendor that ordinarily processes its traffic citations,” the agreement with the San Mateo court explained.

Despite the hassle already experienced, the city council narrowly voted to continue the red light camera program. A copy of the proposed agreement between the city and the superior court is available in a 1.1mb PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Agreement Between South San Francisco and Superior Court (City of South San Francisco, California, 4/21/2010)

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7 Comments on “California: City Fined $250,000 Over Botched Red Light Camera Program...”

  • avatar

    i hope it costs them a hell of a lot more than 250k. i hope “big brother” law enforcement eventually fails miserably. in my experience all the young drivers who text message while driving is the most dangerous. get some real cops to enforce that and make the fine outrageous. either pay up or lose your license for a year.

  • avatar

    7%? I wish I could invest my savings in the California government. No. wait. Scratch that.

  • avatar

    …and the state, being broke, will doubtless fail to return its share of the ticket proceeds….

  • avatar

    If I had received a red-light ticket, you would think I’d be owed an additional refund for any documentable increases in my insurance, time, wages, & parking fees if I went to court, postage involved in sending a payment back, and so forth. All at 7% interest. I agree with underground40, make it so expensive (and publicized) that any city comission will recoil instead of salivate when approached in the future by these blinker bandits.

  • avatar

    What’s amazing is that despite all the big monetary hits, the SSF council voted to continue the program!

    They definitely missed the trend – which is to get out while the getting is good. Compton, Cupertino, El Monte, Fairfield, Fresno, Fullerton, Indian Wells, Irvine, Maywood, Montclair, Moreno Valley, Paramount, Redlands, Roseville, Santa Fe Springs, Santa Maria and Upland all have shut their camera systems. Loma Linda and San Carlos voted last week to let their contracts expire without renewal. (They had hoped to terminate the contracts immediately, but would have had to pay a big penalty for the privilege.)

    Maybe SSF missed seeing the trend because its continuing debacles are a large part of the inspiration for the trend!

    If I lived in SSF I would be really upset to see my council blowing $250K of MY tax money to pay the courts for processing the refunds, “loaning” $1.7 million to the court to fund the refunds (supposed to come back to the City later on, but remember the borrower is a branch of a bankrupt state govt.), not even asking the camera vendor (ATS) for a refund of the 9 months of rent the City will have paid while the system was not producing tickets (9 months x $32K = $288K), and making the refunds to motorists who went to traffic school (est. $200K).

  • avatar

    I live near South San Francisco. Not the greatest place to visit in the past. And certainly not a place I am going to go in the future. These red light cameras are a scam, pure and simple. Cities that have them should be ashamed of themselves.

  • avatar

    “Despite the hassle already experienced, the city council narrowly voted to continue the red light camera program.”

    They double down with tax payer dollars for tax payer dollars. The drunken gambler is out of control.

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