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UPDATED: Red-light Cameras Dumped

The passive ticketing system doesn't generate the revenues it once did.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The City Council did indeed vote Wednesday night, hours after publication, to not renew the contract with the red-light cameras. The contract expires Sept. 30.

City staff is recommending the City Council ditch the cameras that catch red-light violators in two San Juan Capistrano intersections.

The current contract with American Traffic Systems expires in September. It will be up to the City Council to decide whether or not to renew the system, which sends tickets to alleged violators – along with their photos – by mail.

Cindy Russell, chief financial officer for the city, told the council at a special budget meeting Tuesday, that it costs the city $170,000 a year to issue the tickets, while generating $240,000 in revenues which come from the fines.

At the height of ticketing, the system produced $400,000 annually for the city, Russell said.

Lt. John Meyer, chief of police services for the city, said fine collection is down for several reasons, including:

  • The public has better driving habits
  • Familiarity with the system

Meyer said a good 25-30 percent of one deputy’s time is spent reviewing the violations. Should the council agree to get rid of the cameras, that deputy can return to field work.

The council is expected to approve the city budget in July and discuss the red light cameras before the contract expires at the end of September.

kandis55 May 31, 2012 at 12:11 AM
I got nailed by those stupid lights, Get rid of them! I'd rather have an officer available when I need him (or her) rather than stuck behind a desk. I avoid the camera intersection if I possibly can. It's the only ticket I've ever received in 40 years of driving. And the one I got stuck on holds yellow for 3 seconds (the shortest allowed by law). Why not just change the lights so when one direction goes red, there is a few seconds delay before the other goes green? Just my idea for the problem, no cost involved.
V. Duvall May 31, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I know my comment will not be received well but here it is anyway. I think the City will be making a way beyond stupid move if they choose to remove the the cameras. Patch just posted another article with the Police Chief stating that fatal traffic collisions are down. That is, in part, from the red light cameras. People have become more aware of stopping at red lights. The revenue is down because people are not breaking the law like they used to. People are more cautious. This was part of the reason for getting the cameras in the first place. That was a selling point. So I suppose once they are gone everyone will run the lights willy nilly. I just hope I'm not the one nailed by someone. Hope you are not either.
Matt Gaffney May 31, 2012 at 05:26 PM
It's about time. I've never supported the cameras. Especially after 9pm. It's the same as when I was a little boy, nobody's on the streets after 9pm.
Pat Bauer May 31, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Totally agree with Kandis 55 and have been told this has been a very successful approach in some other communities.
Hercules1944 June 02, 2012 at 05:33 PM
http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/16/1688.asp California again is way out in left field. Red light cameras have been declared unconstitutional in almost every state in the union. Thing being, how do you prove who was driving the vehicle? You have a right to face your accuser in a court of law. What testimony can a camera give? Can a camera be cross examined? I think not.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 02, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Well, come Oct. 1 they'll be gone.
Hercules1944 June 03, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Well, at least San Juan Capistrano has joined the world. Now, about the rest of California......LOL
Hercules1944 June 03, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Penny, I read your profile. You have three teen agers. They never borrow Mom or Dads car, right? The ticket goes to the registered owner, does not matter who was driving. Now, if you just have your teenagers avoid them red light camera intersections until October, ya got it made.TeeHee
Mark Kusnetz July 27, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Hi, I went through an intersection at 35 mph and was unable to safely stop and the camera went off. what is the fine amount for that? Thanks, Mark

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