More California Cities Close to Dumping Red Light Cameras

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
more california cities close to dumping red light cameras

Two more California communities are questioning the wisdom of photo enforcement. As of today, red light cameras are no longer operational in Rocklin after the city council decided not to renew the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia. The council in Victorville felt the same way but found it much more difficult to pull the plug on automated ticketing machines.

Rocklin began using cameras at two intersections in 2006, but the program failed to generate the significant amount of revenue promised. The expiration of the five-year contract allowed the city to end the project painlessly, avoiding a number of upcoming legal and policy perils.

“Staff intends to allow the Redflex agreement expire and not to extend or enter into a new agreement at this time,” City Manager Ricky A. Horst wrote in a memo to the city council. “New surveys by Redflex have shown our monitored intersections to be significantly less viable for meeting the cost to run them… Furthermore, there is uncertainty at this time with proposed legislation, DMV policies and court decisions in California that make entering into a new red light camera agreement precarious. Suspending the red light camera program will also free up police department clerical staff-time that can be used in areas of higher demand.”

Anti-camera activists organized by the Tea Party packed the council chambers in Victorville to express their frustration with the program that issues $486 tickets to vehicle owners who turn right on red. City leaders disappointed that the system failed to generate the promised amount of revenue to the city were themselves frustrated to learn that ending the red light camera program would not come cheaply because Redflex will not tell the city how much it would cost to end the program.

“They have no reason to to talk about termination because there are no termination provisions in the contract,” City Manager Jim Cox said. “It’s obvious to me that at this point in time unless there’s a change of mind by Redflex that the only way that we can cancel the contract is to not live by the terms, which would cause litigation. That could happen in a number of ways. Number one is to not pay them.”

Cox could not say how much litigation would cost, but council members suspected it could cost $1 to $2 million to pull out before the March 17, 2015 expiration date. A previous contract with Redflex did have a clause allowing a penalty-free termination for convenience, but a city attorney signed a new deal that struck the clause.

“What could possibly drive the attorney to enter a new contract before the old contract was up that would take away the city council’s power to nix the contract?” resident Bill Jensen asked. “It makes absolutely no sense.”

Three council members said they were unwilling to spend money to remove the cameras. Councilman Angela Valles and Mayor Ryan McEachron disagreed, earning shouts of approval from the audience for their stance.

“I say let the litigation begin and let’s get rid of the red light cameras,” Valles said.

McEachron was more measured in his response, but but he agreed to consider any viable options.

“I’ve never liked red light cameras,” McEachron said. “From my perspective, I’m in favor of turning them off tomorrow.”

On a motion from Valles, the council voted to delay making a final decision by sixty days to discuss alternatives to get out of the contract.


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  • Advance_92 Advance_92 on Mar 08, 2011

    I'd guess local governments are saving money by not paying a lawyer to review the contract and find potential issues.

  • CarPerson CarPerson on Mar 08, 2011

    Traffic cameras have a devastating impact on jobs. Pulling tens of millions of dollars from the local economy to send to Arizona or Australia, with the multiplier effect of money in circulation, has the effect of pulling a hundred million dollars out of circulation. This is money that directly keeps people working and puts people back to work. True, honest “red light running” results in 2% of traffic fatalities. Even if a city claims a 25% drop (always proven to be a fabrication) were true, that means the rate is now 1.5%. This is the best they can do with all that money? The FHWA has a free booklet explaining how to get better results for free. How about fixing the defective light timing and other intersections issues first and dropping the abusive enforcement of non-safety technical violations? 99.9999% of right-turn citations are issued for the sole reason to generate revenue.

  • Tassos those 90s pathetic orange pixels are inexcusably lame in a 2010.The interior is filled with Grey Rubbermaid plastic and the tiny sliver of real or fake wood is an utterly pathetic attempt to pretend it's upscale (don't even THINK of "Luxury")Merc SLs with similar metal retractable roofs look so much better inside and out.Regardless of what you paid for this way undepowered near-luxury pretend-sports car, you would have done so much better with a PORSCHE BOXSTER...
  • Dukeisduke That's a cool picture (the one under the bridge) - where was it taken? Google Image Search doesn't turn up any matches.
  • Dukeisduke Okay, yeah, they should fix this, but, "URGENT: DO NOT DRIVE THIS VEHICLE"? I think we're reaching Peak Idiocracy.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is a great review, and very accurate from my perspective as the owner of a closely related, but longer and taller, E93 335i convertible. So much in this review is familiar. Here are the things that are a bit different about the 335i:[list][*]My car is a manual. Shifter action is good, with positive engagement, although a bit more play and rubbery feeling in the shifter than you would get with, say, a six-speed Honda. The clutch is a bit disappointing. It has a "clutch dampening valve" intended to protect against the most abusive clutch dumps. The valve throws my timing off a bit and I have had a hard time learning to drive this car with perfect smoothness, especially in the 1-2 shift. I may remove the valve at some point.[/*][*]My car has the turbo (in single-turbo N55 form). On the plus side, you get what feels like significantly more power than the rated 300 hp once on the boost, and even in fully stock form you get entertaining whooshing noises from the blowoff valve. On the minus side, there is some turbo lag, more than you get in many modern turbo cars, and fuel economy is, well, not close to what Corey is getting. The turbo car also comes with an active exhaust system that is extremely quiet when puttering while making some nice inline-six noise at wide-open throttle.[/*][*]There are back seats! I have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old. The six-year-old fits perfectly. The nine-year-old still fits, but that will likely change within the next three years. These seats are not usable for adults unless the front-seat occupants squeeze forward more than normal. E92 coupes are slightly roomier in back, and E90 sedans are substantially roomier.[/*][*]My car has the M Sport suspension, which does not have variable dampers. It's firm enough that I have to be careful to avoid even small holes on city streets if I don't want to get jarred. But if you can avoid the holes it feels good, navigating expansion joints and such without uncomfortable impact, while maintaining impressive body control for a porky 3900-pound convertible.[/*][*]My car has iDrive and a screen, as well as parking sensors. But it does not have a backup camera. Graphics on the screen are pretty good by 2011 standards, which is to say not acceptable by modern standards, but the system is easy enough to navigate and works pretty well. I prefer the rotary controller to a touch screen for fingerprint reasons.[/*][*]The parking sensors are by far the best of any car I've ever owned, and they are so accurate I really don't need a camera. The sensors go to a solid beep when the appropriate end is about 4" from an object, and I can comfortably cover about half that distance with no fear of bumping. They also project legimately useful graphics on the iDrive screen showing where the object is. I park in tight city settings enough that I really appreciate the accuracy. Also in the city parking mold, my car has power folding mirrors, which I wish every car would.[/*][*]Like you, I have the mid-level "Hi-Fi Professional" stereo setup, but in the four-seat convertible there is not a dedicated subwoofer. Bass is a bit on the weak side. Sound quality is about comparable with the JBL system in my Toyota Highlander, which is to say it's good enough for listening in the car but is not going to impress anyone.[/*][*]There are small leaks from the joints between the top and the A-pillars in my car. They won't soak the interior, but they will result in a few drops of water on the front seats after a hard rain. I'm still experimenting to see if regular applications of rubber protectant can restore the seals enough to eliminate the leaks. There are no leaks from any other part of the top mechanism.[/*][*]I've only owned the car for about eight months and 1500 miles, but so far nothing has broken and every feature on the car works correctly. A purchase-time inspection found only an incorrectly secured fan shroud and no other problems, and there is a mostly complete service history, so this was a well-maintained car to start with.[/*][/list]
  • Lou_BC This offer reminds me of those plans where you get something free but if you fail to cancel prior to the expiry of the "Free" plan you end up on the hook for a lengthy contract. Tesla wants to attract people to their electrical company. It's smart. Make money selling the car, make money with subscription services on the car, and make money selling the fuel to power the car at home and at charging stations.