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Council Puts an End to Red-Light Cameras in Murrieta

Council members approved 4-0—with Councilwoman Kelly Bennett absent—a resolution ending the red-light camera program as well as the contract the city held with camera operator American Traffic Solutions.

Murrieta City Council was applauded Tuesday when it voted to do away with the city’s red-light cameras.

Council members approved 4-0—with Councilwoman Kelly Bennett absent—a resolution ending the red-light camera program as well as the contract the city held with camera operator American Traffic Solutions.

For at least the past year, while the result of a citizens’ ballot measure to ban the cameras was awaited, the contract had been kept on a month-to-month basis.

That contract had recently expired, according to police Chief Mike Baray, who cited “recent concerns with the company” and “outdated equipment” as reasons to part ways with ATS.

Another concern previously acknowledged by city officials was that ATS had kept its sensors running several months after the cameras were to have been —pursuant to Measure N passing in November 2012. City officials said they were unaware the sensors had still been operating, and were shocked when ATS released data it had collected on “citable” red-light camera violations. Councilman Randon Lane had suggested considering legal action against ATS.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Alan Long went so far as to query City Attorney Leslie Devaney about the feasibility of banning ATS from doing business in the city.

To that, Devaney said there would need to be a public hearing, along with a series of findings.

“A potential breach of a contract would not be the only thing that would allow you to completely ban them from doing work,” Devaney said.

Prior to Council’s vote, a few members of the public gave their final pleas to end ATS’ era in the city.

“... This is not a company I would want to have providing services in my community and I am pleased to hear some of the comments from the Council members that you feel likewise,” said resident Tom Courbat.

Another resident, Max Miller, said he had received a ticket but believed the cameras fired too quickly, and that many households in Murrieta could not afford the approximately $400 tickets.

“...The tickets are too expensive and last but not least, the people have spoken on this,” Miller said.

The resolution approved Tuesday by City Council calls for City Manager Rick Dudley to draft a letter to ATS requesting the removal of the red light cameras, equipment and all software associated with the program.

“I can’t imagine it would take that long,” Dudley told Patch, after the meeting.

Dudley confirmed that by taking the cameras down and ending the contract, a future Council vote would be required to bring them back.

“At some point in the future, a Council conceivably could, but I have not heard anybody asking about it,” Dudley said.

Resident Diana Serafin, a major proponent of Measure N, said although the cameras will be gone, she still would like the city to assess its yellow-light timing. She suggests adding one second to yellow lights, plus synchronizing traffic lights.

“Removing the cameras is and always has been for me about safety,” Serafin said, noting she had never personally received a red-light ticket.

Mayor Rick Gibbs said yellow-light timing will be discussed at the June 4 City Council meeting.

Susan Marsh May 08, 2013 at 03:04 PM
I commend the Murrieta City Council for listening to the people of the community.
Scott Thomas (AKA - Scott Thomas) May 08, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Thank You! You have restored my faith in Voting! And most of all thank you to all of the people that put in the countless hours of volunteer time to make this happen.
Jim May 08, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Californians (and visitors) need to know about Snitch Tickets, the fake/phishing camera tickets sent out by the police to fool registered owners into id'ing the actual driver of the car. Over 30 cities use them, and in some cities the fakes are more than half of everything the city mails out. Snitch Tickets have not been filed with the court, so they don’t say “Notice to Appear,” don’t have the court’s address and phone # on them, and usually say, on the back (in small letters), “Do not contact the court about this notice” or "Courtesy Notice - This is not a ticket." Since they have not been filed with the court, they have zero legal weight. You can, and should, ignore a Snitch Ticket. Skeptical? Google: Snitch Ticket. Been in LA County? A REAL camera ticket from ANY city in Los Angeles County can be ignored, as the LA courts do not report ignored tickets to the DMV. This was revealed in multiple LA Times articles in July 2011. Skeptical? Google: Red light camera voluntary.
Christine May 08, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Good the citizens finally won the battle. As it should be...
Ed Remmell May 08, 2013 at 04:01 PM
Awesome. Thank you Murrieta City Council for listening to Murrieta residents.
Steve Newman May 08, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Just keep in mind that the city council had all along supported the cameras, but when ATS kept the sensors on after being told to turn "everything" off, they were mad and embarrassed that their vendor would go behind their backs, and not do it . The council voted the cameras down as a face saving measure, not because they wanted to. Another meeting is scheduled for June to discuss red ligt camera again- so the issue is not totally dead.
Roy T Tatar May 08, 2013 at 10:35 PM
Profiles in courage. Now the council can save more money by laying off the cops that risked their lives everyday viewing red light camera video & playing god by issuing the tickets.
The Equalizer May 08, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Perfect ending to a very shaky issue concerning the effectiveness and highly unreasonable cost of the cameras. The City Council did 100% the right thing in backing the community's wishes, and preserving California's hard-earned cash at the same time. Today, I salute all the members that voted on this thorny issue. "We the People" prevailed. The only real BIG loser here is Honorable (or Horrible to some) Judge Ottolia! This guy really embarrassed himself by picking the wrong horse! Well, what goes around, comes around :)!
Timber May 09, 2013 at 04:08 AM
It's not over for all traffic signaled intersections. The extending of the yellow light phasing based on proper traffic engineering surveys that account for actual intersection approach speeds (min. 85th percentile) should be place on the councils agenda. The issue here is 'safety' which scameras could never provide. Along with having all-way red light durations of 1 second. Increasing safety through practical and pragmatic traffic engineering will provide for safer intersections for all motorist without abdicating the councils authority and responsibility by contracting with any corporate entity that seeks only profit under the illusion of pretended safety.
Don Lambert May 09, 2013 at 05:10 AM
I think Murrieta already does one second all red on their signals. This goes by in a blink. It needs to be longer At least one second longer everywhere. And even a little longer on the roads that have multi-lanes and faster speed limits. 60 MPH = 88 feet per second., 45 MPH = 66 feet per second, 30 mph = 44 feet per second.
all-c-ing-eye May 09, 2013 at 05:33 AM
ATS American Traffic Solutions? they are not the solution, they are the problem.
Rob May 10, 2013 at 03:42 PM
GREAT WORK BY DIANA SERAFIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She weather attack after attack to do what was right and, at day's end the people of Murrieta stood with her to end this debacle. This is OUR government people. WE all do not need to stand tall, as Diana did, but we all do need to STAND UP!
Rob May 10, 2013 at 03:44 PM
PS: The cameras collecting data after being shutdown is now a lawsuit in LA. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/10/la-police-sued-over-massive-data-collection-gleaned-from-cameras/

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