By on June 25, 2010

The city council in Mukilteo, Washington voted on Monday to reverse itself on the issue of photo enforcement. After over 1909 voters signed a petition to call for an election to ban red light cameras and speed cameras, council members began to have second thoughts about their contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to operate automated ticketing machines. ATS also operates in the neighboring town of Lynnwood.

“I believe there may be ways to solve this without turning into Lynnwood,” Council President Randy Lord said. “I’m willing to say that I probably moved too quickly because it looked like a good solution. But I heard and I studied and I read for the last few weeks and I appreciate the public dialogue and discourse brought forth by our petition process.”

Lynnwood’s cameras have generated $7,564,599 in profit since July 2007 from tickets worth $124 to $250 each. The cameras operate in a school zone eight hours a day, even when no students are present. Mukilteo residents complained in comments to the council that they should not bring the same “gotcha” cameras to their town.

“Every time I pass Lynnwood I am so stressed out,” Mukilteo resident Mimi Gates said. “I have many friends who tell me they go around Lynnwood on a back road to avoid the camera… I lived in a half-communist country for several years. I left that country thirty-five years ago… I thought (here) I was home where freedom reigns. Now I feel like I’m back to my old hometown where every conversation was recorded, every move that I made was detected… The cameras everywhere, watching you, spying on you.”

Initiative guru Tim Eyman made it clear that even though the council has backtracked on cameras, he is pushing ahead with his proposal to ask the voters to ban cameras for good (view initiative).

“When the citizens do go to the extraordinary effort to get enough signatures to get something qualified for the ballot, the city council and the state should respect that process and allow citizens to vote on issues in the extraordinary circumstances when they manage to get the required number of signatures,” Eyman said. “With this initiative I feel like Jimmy Stewart — that George Bailey character in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ — because people are just coming out of the woodwork to help with this initiative campaign. ‘Hey Tim, I heard you’re in trouble.’ I have people knocking on my door at midnight, dropping off petitions and asking for more of them. It’s really an inspiring thing.”

The Snohomish County Auditor notified Eyman last week that he would need another 537 signatures after reviewing his petition submission. Eyman responded with a push to gather 40 signatures per day before Friday, which would be enough to push the effort over the top.


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9 Comments on “Washington: Council Drops Cameras In Response To Voter Revolt...”

  • avatar

    I live in Lynnwood, WA. We have several of the busiest intersections in the State. Lynnwood is home to the largest shopping mall in WA State and the cameras surround the malls and the major arterials to the mall. The city is unashamed of the money they make with the RLC’s at these intersections. It is absolutley human nature to hit the brakes or coast through on a yellow light – the cameras in Lynnwood are pure profit machines plain and simple.

    Additionally, the school zones state “20 MPH when students are present” and most zones are 25mph. Even at night these school zones are fair game for the camera systems as my wife discovered while running to the store at midnight for meds for my kid.

    It isn’t enough that our state has no money, a nearly 10% sales tax, $3.30 gas/gal, and sin taxes that hike the price of a 5th of Jack Daniels to $22….they nail us with speeding tickets for 5mph over in a school zone at midnight.

    • 0 avatar

      Does nobody challenge these school zone tickets? If school is out, the school zones shouldn’t be active. Fleecing the residents of your town and nearby burgs isn’t right, regardless of whether the city is broke or swimming in cash. The school zone thing sounds like a scam that should be easily defeated if someone were to take the time (and money too, I guess) to do so.

  • avatar

    In my town, the school zones are marked by flashers and have specified times for the reduced limits. They actually do a pretty good job since they are shut off after hours and on non-school days……of course, in Indiana we don’t have photo ticketing.

  • avatar

    The city has thwarted the tickets thus far as they give the tickets based on the 25mph limit during the non-school times – they just happen to have the cameras there so they use them 24 hrs a day. In-school they use 20mph limit, non-school hours they use 25mph. My wife was 30mph in a 25mph zone. Was she speeding? Yes, but the premise for the school zone cameras was always to keep the kids safer during school, not to continue using the cameras all the time, suprise! Seeing as Lynnwood has made millions of $$$ on these, why the heck not get a few more bucks in these other areas. Say “cheese”.

    BTW – I would like to see the stats on people that are driving at night on a dark road and crash because the bright flash of an RLC went off right in their eyes causing an accident. These school zones are not lit up that well at night as they extend quite far past the school.

  • avatar

    There should ber an organized campaign to destroy these camaras wherever and whenever possible. I’d recommend a 22 with a good nightvision scope for starters.

  • avatar

    …sin taxes that hike the price of a 5th of Jack Daniels to $22…

    Jeez, I thought PA had the market cornered on screwed up alcohol distribution. Twenty-two bucks is salty for a bottle of Jack.

  • avatar

    Check out the Wednesday, June 23, 2010 edition of “The Enterprise”, which bills itself as the newspaper for Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, and Mountlake Terrace WA. Front page article headlined “Red-light cameras are for safety, police say” and the editorial “Hubbub over red-light cams misses the point”.

    Read the articles and weep: It’s a concerted effort to turn the uninformed into the misinformed.

    It is not possible the police, who serve at the pleasure of the mayor and city council, actually believe the cameras improve safety. They are fully aware of the fact the cameras are, with rare exception, a cash grab from normal, average, safe and sane drivers.

    Fifteen states have banned the cameras and three more are about to. Cameras have been thrown out of nearly two dozen cities, all because THEY CAN ONLY MAKE MONEY IF THE INTERSECTION IS MADE DANGEROUS. Short the Green 2.5 seconds to feed hapless drivers into a 1.5-second shortened Yellow and the cash flows like dollars from heaven.

    Slamming drivers for not stopping long enough for the camera to register a stop for a right-turn when no vehicles or pedestrians are present improves safety exactly how?

    NOT coming to a full, dead, dead, dead stop is easier on the vehicle, reduces oil imports, improves traffic flow, and reduces the amount of copper, asbestos and other contaminants flowing into our storm drains with ZERO impact on safety. Nonetheless, the City of Lynnwood goes after it with dollar signs in their eyes.

    “Just don’t run the lights” is a simplistic but wrong answer to the situation. I can afford to ship my three cars to Los Angles and have brakes from a Ferrari installed, but, unfortunately, I can not turn back the clock and regain the reaction times of a 20-year old.

    Put two-point-five seconds back on the clock for the Green, one-point-five seconds for the Yellow, and ease up on the right turns. “Red light running” problem solved in a flash, which the cameras DO NOT seem to be accomplishing, do they?

    For now I’ll skip mentioning the secret list of license numbers that tickets are NEVER to be mailed to, with the infraction erased from the system to thwart audit.

    • 0 avatar

      > For now I’ll skip mentioning the secret list of license numbers that tickets are NEVER to be mailed to, with the infraction erased from the system to thwart audit.

      Don’t skip that. Tell us. More info please and a citation (ha!) would be nice.

  • avatar

    As someone who went to Lynnwood High (’82-yes I am old) I am certainly not proud of my former hometown.

    I now live about 15 minutes away and my whole family avoids Lynnwood because of the cameras. I feel bad for the merchants…I haven’t bought anything there in 2+ years.

    And I buy a LOT, as I am an American with teenagers. FOrest for the trees, Lynnwood.

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