By on October 11, 2010

In July, a three-judge panel of the appellate division of the Superior Court of California in Orange County ruled that red light camera tickets issued at certain intersections in Santa Ana were invalid because the city failed to provide legally required notice. The case was certified for publication, and last month the cities of Santa Ana and West Hollywood petitioned the state supreme court to undo this certification, which is extremely rare for photo ticketing programs. Unpublished cases cannot be cited as precedent in California, and motorists interested in challenging citations will have to repeat from scratch all arguments about the program’s illegality.

“The city of Santa Ana’s interest in depublication is based on the fact that the city of Santa Ana continues to operate a red light camera enforcement system throughout the city,” City Attorney Joseph W. Fletcher wrote in a September 21 letter to the high court. “The Park decision should not be published because the court’s interpretation of Vehicle Code Section 21455.5 is incorrect.”

On February 17, 2009, a Redflex-owned automated ticketing machine photographed the Toyota belonging to Danny Park and mailed a $436 citation. Park argued that although the city had provided a 30-day warning period at one location, Harbor Boulevard and McFadden in 2003, it offered no warning period at the intersection where he was photographed, Bristol Street and Segerstrom Avenue. Park argued that the plain language of the code required warning at each individual intersection.

“Prior to issuing citations under this section, a local jurisdiction utilizing an automated traffic enforcement system shall commence a program to issue only warning notices for 30 days,” California Vehicle Code section 21455.5 specifies. “The local jurisdiction shall also make a public announcement of the automated traffic enforcement system at least 30 days prior to the commencement of the enforcement program.”

A trial court found Park guilty, but the appellate division panel overturned the decision based on an interpretation of the word “system” that applies to each individual intersection.

“It would make little sense for the scope of the 30-day warning period to be limited temporally and to be defined arbitrarily by the geographic size of the local jurisdiction, inasmuch as the legislatively stated purpose of the warning requirement is to deter red light violations,” Judge Gregory H. Lewis wrote for the court. “This purpose is best achieved by the issuance of new warnings and announcements to proximate users each time automated enforcement equipment commences operation at an intersection. Because the record in this case shows a lack of compliance with the requirement of Vehicle Code section 21455.5, subdivision (b), that a municipality utilizing an automated enforcement system at an intersection comply with the prescribed warning requirements ‘prior to issuing citations,’ the conviction must be reversed.”

On September 9, the state court of appeal denied Santa Ana’s request to overturn the decision. A copy of the July decision is available in a 150k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File California v. Park (Orange County Superior Court, Appellate division, 7/23/2010)


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7 Comments on “California Cities Attempt to Depublish Red Light Camera Decision...”

  • avatar

    Yet again, we see it is all about the money, $camera merchants will do whatever is needed to keep the cash cow mooing, and only the rule of law is a victim.
    Anyone who follows this issue sees it time and time again.  Fake “citizen’s groups” (astroturf), shorter yellow intervals, and a sudden interest in Right Turn on Red tickets when the revenues drop off.
    If it cost money, not a single town or city would do this…..

    A bunch of foreign companies, trying to get their business model accepted here in the States….the only problem is that the US, in parts at least, is still a representative democracy, and “the people” don’t want this.

    Hire another cop…red light cameras don’t catch intoxicated drivers, catch suspended operators, or indeed do anything but send a bill, oft to folks who got “stuck” in the intersection, not trying to shave a few seconds.

    Why do you think $cameras always only are a “civil” violation, or “administrative” ? The answer is because if the pain threshold is kept low, most will pay, not fight. CA has really high $camera bills but most places intentionally keep it at a “too cheap to fight” threshold.

    The fact it is dishonest, against the popular will, and bad engineering is besides the point. Properly engineered intersections don’t make much money, but shorten those yellows…..Profit !!!!

  • avatar

    Wait, so the city attorney says that they want to depublish the ruling because it’s wrong, yet the city’s appeal of said ruling was denied by the state Court of Appeals?  Unless the city is taking the case to the state Supreme Court on appeal (in which case I could see delaying publishing the ruling until all appeals are exhausted), the City Attorney needs to STFU and obey the law.
    Stuff like this make me wish we had more judges with a spine who will sanction lawyers who jam up the court with superfluous and illegal motions.  Six months without a law license might make them think twice before submitting crap to the court.

  • avatar

    Traffic circles.

    • 0 avatar

      Traffic circles?  Here, in California?  OMG no.  The idiots in this state cannot figure out a 4-way stop much less a traffic circle.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup, eliminate infrastructure costs- no electricity, no poles, no computers- which also “saves the environment” by reducing stopped car idling, eliminate deadly t-bone crashes for glancing fender hits, and saves waiting times when cross traffic is light or non-existent.
      I didn’t understand circles being an ex-NJ driver used to the high speed circles now mostly removed. Then I saw a 4 way stop light being removed in place of a low speed circle in a city in Northern Italy. Then I completely understood where circles should be used- not high speed state highways but in the local low speed traffic light areas.
      In industrial production a “stop” or “stopping” is a failure. Traffic lights are failures in this modern age.
      Save the world- kill a traffic light.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s where I was introduced to them – Italy. After I used them a few times it was clear what a great idea they were in low speed areas. Chattanooga has installed a few. So has our small town north of ‘nooga. There is a learning curve for the any local nitwits but they eventually get it.

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