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Murrieta Votes to Ban Red-Light Cameras

Yes votes on Measure N were cast by 57.20 percent—or 15,112—of Murrieta voters. Those who voted in favor of keeping the red-light cameras numbered 42.80 percent, or 11,309 Murrieta voters.

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 4:02 p.m. Nov. 7 to add comments from a measure opponent and clarify other information.

Motorists in Murrieta won't have to worry about red-light cameras much longer, with voters approving a measure that called for a ban on the ticket-issuing systems.

Yes votes on Measure N were cast by 57.20 percent—or 15,112—of Murrieta voters, according to election results posted Wednesday morning by the Riverside County Registrar of Voters' Office. Those who voted no on Measure N numbered 42.80 percent, or 11,309 Murrieta voters.

The next updated elections results were expected at 6 p.m. Thursday.

"Approximately, 105,000 vote-by-mail, 60,000 provisional, and 18,000 damaged ballots that require duplication still must be processed. Work on those ballots begins today," the registrar's office wrote in a Facebook post.

The Murrieta red-light systems were first deployed in 2006 at three intersections: Whitewood and Murrieta Hot Springs roads, Margarita Road and Murrieta Hot Springs, and Nutmeg Street and Clinton Keith Road.

Advocates contended the cameras have saved lives, but critics countered that they are ineffective and unfair.

"The citizens have won—not me—the citizens," said Measure N proponent Diana Serafin, as she celebrated Tuesday night at Spelly's Pub and Grille in Murrieta.

"The $500 tickets were ridiculous...paying Goldman Sachs and ATS (American Traffic Solutions) half the money, it is just a scam."

ATS donated approximately $80,000 to a committee whose goal was to defeat Measure N, The Press-Enterprise reported.

Serafin, a conservative political activist, got support from Safer Streets L.A. Executive Director Jay Beeber when drafting an argument for the ballot.

"The unfortunate truth is that red light ticketing cameras can't improve safety because they cannot prevent the serious collisions caused by motorists who are impaired, distracted or fatigued and enter the intersection long after the light has turned red," Measure N backers wrote in a campaign statement. "More tickets, less safety."

Backers said comparison of collision data from the five years before the city's red light cameras were installed to the five years after shows collisions overall jumped 120 percent, while rear-end collisions spiked a whopping 285 percent higher.

"And while the cameras increased accidents, by the time of this election, Murrieta will have issued almost 12,000 tickets at almost $500 each, removing millions of dollars from our local economy and wasting thousands of valuable police man hours," initiative backers wrote. "The vast majority of these tickets go to drivers who miss the end of the yellow phase by a fraction of a second."

Initiative opponents, including Councilmen Rick Gibbs and Alan Long, argued that Measure N's authors were spinning data to suit their purposes. Opponents wrote in a ballot statement that red-light running at camera-enforced intersections plummeted from 5,100 to 121 incidents from 2005 to 2011 and that half the people ticketed were three car lengths away from the intersection when the light changed and they chose to continue through it.

"Seventy-two percent of the red light violations were written to drivers who do not live in Murrieta," opponents said. "It is people passing through our town who put your life in danger."

The city of Los Angeles deactivated its red light camera system last year based on doubts about its effectiveness as a deterrent and the fact that local courts wouldn't uphold the citations.

From 2004 to 2010, the city of Los Angeles issued 183,000 tickets, valued at more than $80 million. An audit of the automated traffic enforcement program, however, found no corresponding increase in safety at the intersections generating citations.

In the fight to ban cameras in Murrieta, Serafin said: "It has been a long two years."

Though Serafin and co-proponent Robin Nielson gathered enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot, there was a pre-election question as to whether the initiative would survive a lawsuit.

Steve Flynn, who was instrumental in bringing the cameras to the city when he served as a volunteer Murrieta Public and Safety Traffic Commissioner, filed the suit in June.

The measure survived the suit.

"The Supreme Court has stated that 'it is usually more appropriate to review constitutional and other challenges to ballot propositions or initiative measures after an election rather than to disrupt the electoral process by preventing the exercise of the people’s franchise, in the absence of some clear showing of invalidity,'" wrote Justice Art. W. McKinster, in the ruling.

Flynn, who was not initially available Wednesday morning to give his reaction to the election results or answer whether there might be further legal action brought against Measure N, spoke with Patch later in the day.

He said he does not have any plans to carry out further legal against against the measure.

"It was a very sad day in Murrieta last night," Flynn told Patch. "I don't like it but I respect it. I am not going to fight it; that would not be fair to the 15,1000 people who voted for it. I am sorry they were misled."

He did, however, have a question for the measure backers: "How are you going to feel when the cameras are gone and an innocent person gets injured or killed. How will you be able to sleep at night?"

The measure, as approved by more than half of Murrieta voters—pending certified election results—calls for city council to approve an ordinance prohibiting the cameras and for the removal of existing ones.

City Clerk Kay Vinson told Patch Wednesday the elections results were scheduled to be certified at the Dec. 4 Murrieta City Council meeting.

"The ordinance would go into effect 10 days after that," Vinson said. "That is the standard initiative process."

john citizen November 10, 2012 at 06:45 PM
So anyone that disagrees with you is uninformed ? Are you not able to believe that other people can make a decision and vote the way they feel? Do you believe you are the only one able to do that? Do you really believe that we need you to help us poor stupid people Yours and Anthony's arrogance is beyond belief.
john citizen November 10, 2012 at 06:58 PM
As a Motorcyclist Intersections are the most dangerous places for us....Cameras do nothing to deter the driver not paying attention. The cameras really do nothing except generate money for the camera company and the city. As any good driver knows when pulling into an intersection first be sure it is clear and safe to do so before proceeding your argument stating the cameras save lives is invalid. they detract drivers more than anything when the flash goes off for anybody everybody looks to see what happened. Defensive driving is what saves lives not cash cow cameras,
The Republican November 10, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Where was your unbiased accurate data on here prior to the election? Where is it now? Sour grapes losers. ROTFLMFAO
rme November 11, 2012 at 03:45 PM
You people totally amaze me in your self ritious rhetoric. All of you pro Ns sit back and write your opinion and gloat. Then when anyone disagrees with you by voicing their opinion they are all off a sudden bad people. So many like you have this double standard. Almost all polititions have this quality. Yes the people have voted. This does not change my opinion one bit and it is my right to voice it. You want to take that away too I suppose. Just have another vote and if the majority want to stop free speech then so be it. Until then I will voice my opinion on any subject I care to. I have told you pro N ers that you got the majority vote. Do you guys just read and pick out one or two words totally out of context to respond to. As far as producing facts go to the NTSB, DOT, CHP, and many other agencies and get it your self. I am not a democrat I will not get it for you.
Diana Serafin November 11, 2012 at 04:19 PM
@rme - You said, “I didn't see any facts given by pro N that were from the NTSB, DOT or law enforcement.” Well apparently you haven’t looked at our website because every statistic on there comes directly from the CHP Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System Database (SWITRS) which gets all its data from local law enforcement. So every fact comes from law enforcement, unlike what you would have people believe. You said, “The pro N people and the general puplic have not a clue about the true stats.” Please tell us what the “true stats” are. Please be specific regarding the statistics for Murrieta and please cite your sources.
Diana Serafin November 11, 2012 at 04:20 PM
@Tracy - You asked “How is it that the cameras are unfair?” If that is an honest question and you would really like to know the answer, read the explanation here: bitly.com/VGp36k It explains why some drivers inadvertently violate the red because of the way the yellow lights are timed. The formula that they use to time the yellow light is flawed and ensures that some drivers, if when the light turns yellow, are caught at the point in the roadway where they have to decide whether to stop or go, will be forced to violate the red by a few fractions of a second. The camera companies exploit this engineering flaw in order to earn millions of dollars. If this engineering flaw were fixed by lengthening the yellow light appropriately, most of the violations would disappear overnight. Of course then the camera companies couldn’t run their scam because there wouldn’t be enough violations to generate a profit. By the way, this flaw exists at all intersections, not just red light camera intersections.
Diana Serafin November 11, 2012 at 04:22 PM
(Donna E - 1:38 pm on Wednesday, November 7, 2012) @Proof aka Stephen Flynn - You keep saying that I lied and mislead people. Please be specific as to exactly what “lies” or misleading statements you are referring to. Please cite your sources. Also, I have experts who would be happy to debate you. Please tell us when and where.
Diana Serafin November 11, 2012 at 04:26 PM
@Mary This is taken directly from the City Council Agenda Report of October 18, 2005 that recommends contracting for the red light camera system: “…empirical evidence of violation counts at various intersections taken within the community over the past six months has identified 3 initial intersections that will immediately benefit from the presence of automated camera systems. Staff recommends that automated Video Camera Systems be installed at the following three intersections; Clinton Keith at Nutmeg, Murrieta Hot Springs at Whitewood, and Murrieta Hot Springs at Margarita. Traffic counts at these intersections revealed above average red light violations.” continued
Greg November 11, 2012 at 04:26 PM
There has got to be a way that does not rip off the public, four to five hundred dollar fines that does not help the city is stupid. They city gets pennies on the dollar with the traffic camera companies making a huge part of the profit! Why do you think the camera companies donated over one hundred thousand dollars in an attempt to defeat measure N. You really think they put those cameras in because they care about us??? or about your safety you are very mistaken. Did you get a phone call from law enforcement explaining how the revenue lost would would take 14 to 15 motor officers to make it up??? others did... don't be blind. Personally I would feel sorry for any family that loses a loved one in an accident no matter what. Good luck and God Bless
Diana Serafin November 11, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Notice that they only talk about how many violations there might be. Nowhere in the report do they mention anything about the number of collisions at these intersections. The reason is that there were so few red light running collisions (1 or 2 in the five prior years) that they knew that if they mentioned that fact it would be obvious that installing the cameras wasn’t necessary. The only valid reason to install cameras is if you have a high number of crashes caused by red light running. There weren’t a high number of crashes, especially compared to other intersections, but they chose to install the cameras there anyway because “violation counts” showed “above average red light violations” which equals a lot of tickets which equals a lot of revenue. If the connection isn’t obvious to you, I’m afraid I can’t help you. And again, if you want to see the whole report, I’m happy to send it to you. Just tell me where to send it.
Diana Serafin November 11, 2012 at 04:27 PM
@Patrick McCloud – The fact that you may not have seen the rear end accidents doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. In the City Council Agenda Report of January 18, 2011 it says: “These same camera monitored intersections also had statistically significant increases in rear-end traffic collisions. The intersections in 2004 and 2005 had a combined total of eight rear end collisions prior to the camera installations. After the camera installations, these same intersections in 2006 and 2007 had sixteen rear end collisions, and 25 in 2008 and 2009.” So to do the math for you, even according to the MPD that’s a 212% increase in rear end collision from 2004/2005 to 2008/2009. And if you look at the CHP SWITRS Database (which gets its data from the MPD), you find that at MHS and Margarita (camera installed Jan 2006) there was only 1 rear end collision in 2004/2005 and 10 in 2006/2007, 9 in 2007/2008, 11 in 2008/2009 and 9 in 2009/2010. So about a 1000% increase after the cameras were installed. At MHS and Whitewood (camera installed Dec 2006) there were only 2 rear end collisions in 2005/2006 and 9 in 2007/2008, 14 in 2008/2009 and 14 in 2009/2010. So about a 475% increase after the cameras were installed.
Diana Serafin November 11, 2012 at 04:31 PM
@Proof aka Stephen Flynn - You said, “How will you feel when an innocent person or person's gets injured or killed at one of these intersections after the camera's are gone.” Did you know that in the City Council Agenda Report of January 18, 2011 it says: “ATS recommends removing two of the existing three intersection camera systems. The first is at westbound Murrieta Hot Springs and Margarita, and the second is at Clinton Keith and Nutmeg streets. … The Police Department concurs with this analysis.” So if the cameras had been removed from those locations as they had recommended (because there weren’t enough violations - meaning revenue - there) and if someone got killed or injured afterwards, who would you have blamed, ATS or the Police Department? continued
Diana Serafin November 11, 2012 at 04:31 PM
And if the cameras were doing such a great job keeping the intersections safe as you claim, why would they want to remove them? According to your logic as soon as the cameras are removed, innocent people will be killed or injured. This just shows how fake the whole safety argument is. If your real goal is to improve safety and you think the cameras are doing that by reducing violations, why in the world would you want to take away the thing that’s supposedly responsible for the increase in safety? The answer is that they know the cameras really don’t improve safety and are only there to generate revenue so as soon as the revenue they were counting on isn’t flowing, they want to put the cameras somewhere else.
Diana Serafin November 11, 2012 at 04:32 PM
@rme – You said, “Historicly Margarita and Hot springs, Whitewood and Hot Springs were very dangerous intersections. The red light cameras greatly reduced the number of fatal and serious accidents at same.” Please provide any statistics to back up this claim. Please cite your sources. According to the CHP SWITRS Database (which gets its data from the MPD), in the four years before the cameras were installed at these two intersections, there were a total of 4 collisions where a red light violation was the primary cause of the accident (no fatalities, 1 property damage only and 3 complaint of pain/no visible injury). In the four years after the cameras were installed, there were a total of 6 collisions where a red light violation was the primary cause of the accident (2 property damage only, 3 complaint of pain/no visible injury, and 1 visible injury). So how can you claim that “the cameras have helped a great deal”? Clearly you are just posting claims at random without anything to back them up.
Diana Serafin November 11, 2012 at 04:33 PM
@rme - You said, “I didn't see any facts given by pro N that were from the NTSB, DOT or law enforcement.” Well apparently you haven’t looked at our website because every statistic on there comes directly from the CHP Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System Database (SWITRS) which gets all its data from local law enforcement. So every fact comes from law enforcement, unlike what you would have people believe. You said, “The pro N people and the general puplic have not a clue about the true stats.” Please tell us what the “true stats” are. Please be specific regarding the statistics for Murrieta and please cite your sources
Diana Serafin November 11, 2012 at 04:34 PM
@rme - You keep saying “I know the true facts.” Please tell us which “facts” you are referring to. Please be specific. Please cite your sources. You also state “Just a small amount of research would disprove most if not all of the pro N "facts" and propaganda.” Please specifically tell us which of our facts you are able to disprove with your research. Is it that after the installation of ATS cameras, rear-end collisions increased 325%, or that broadside collisions increased 125%, or that red light running collisions increased 120%? All of which come from an analysis of the CHP Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System (SWITRS) Database. Which of these facts can be disproved with “just a small amount of research”? Please be specific regarding the statistics for Murrieta and please cite your sources.
Greg November 11, 2012 at 04:45 PM
You are right but Cameras are wrong, very wrong and heres why:Greg 8:26 am on Sunday, November 11, 2012 There has got to be a way that does not rip off the public, four to five hundred dollar fines that does not help the city is stupid. They city gets pennies on the dollar with the traffic camera companies making a huge part of the profit! Why do you think the camera companies donated over one hundred thousand dollars in an attempt to defeat measure N. You really think they put those cameras in because they care about us??? or about your safety you are very mistaken. Did you get a phone call from law enforcement explaining how the revenue lost would would take 14 to 15 motor officers to make it up??? others did... don't be blind. Personally I would feel sorry for any family that loses a loved one in an accident no matter what. Good luck and God Bless
LBV Collins November 11, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Thanks for the link, Diana. And congratulations on getting Measure N put on the ballot and passed. (Now... how about getting a Measure put on the ballot that stops DUI checkpoints and instead dedicates the checkpoint funds to our police department? I'd sign that petition, too!) ;)
Mary November 11, 2012 at 07:15 PM
And taken from the minutes of the same council meeting: "Chief Wright provided the staff report. He commented that over the last six months, they had been researching the feasibility of these cameras. Officer Frobese provided a presentation on his research. He indicated red light complaints and traffic accidents are on the rise and the cameras will serve as an invaluable enforcement tool." So safety and accidents were discussed.
sam bradstreet November 11, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Ah dah conservative puke.......if voters could ban police radar, they would.......the cameras are after you paranoid Diana. The drones are after you Diana........nice picture.....LOL!!!!!!
sam bradstreet November 11, 2012 at 08:20 PM
No wife beater Roy Holmgren- the sour grapes belong to conservatives......how's you Mitt Romney doing Roy??? Polls are all wrong right Roy??? I predicted an Obama electoral landslide a month ago....you're wrong YET AGAIN!!! Just like you were wrong before the Iraq War.....conservatives are always wrong.......how's your mongoloid daughter???? and you gay butt son??? Were they both born with down syndrome??????????
Walrus November 12, 2012 at 09:45 PM
What is the purpose of red light cameras? Some say to prevent traffic collisions, others say they are there to cause people to pay money. If the cameras are installed to prevent collisons, then why are there still collisions at the intersections where cameras are installed? The only logical answer is that the cameras cannot PREVENT collisions. Have the red light cameras caused people to pay money? Yes. In fact, tickets are issued to people who are not even in the vehicle when the violation takes place. The ticket is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle and not issued to the person who violated the law. Even when the registered owner is a bald fat male with a moustache and the driver of the vehicle is a young beautiful female. The ticket is sent to the person who never violated the law. That tells me that the main purpose of the red light camera is to generate revenue.
all-c-ing-eye November 13, 2012 at 10:25 PM
wow thats the smartest thing i have read here yet. The last thing you need is someone who is paranoid about these things behind you or coming across from the side. I was at one of these things [and did not know it] although i knew of them, when in the middle of the intersection a skateboarder lost his board as it went across the rd. in front of me. The kid ran out to get it, i stopped and the driver behind me started to threaten me "Ill kill you, you m-f if i get a f----n ticket here. It was a red light intersection i learned later and after seeing these posts for and against I have to say those red light cameras are not such a good idea. That kind of road rage you mostly hear of in L.A. i hope i never have to deal with it again.
Patrick McCloud November 16, 2012 at 07:03 PM
@Diana Serafin- Thank you for the reply and I apologize for just catching that. I agree that rear collisions are a potential hazard with the installation of any red light camera intersection. But what is the decrease of dangerous "T-bone" or side impact collisions (which are proven higher fatality rates)? Now the increase in rear end collisions is noted and your percentages are spot on, but I have a couple questions that are, I feel, definitely factors that are not stated in statics, and are underlying if not contributing factors. 1) From 2005-2010 (stated above): What was the increase in the population (to include age of drivers involved) of not only east side Murrieta, but French Valley (Winchester), and Temecula ? That is a major thoroughfare for people not only residing Murrieta, but those areas as well. Please factor in or state that with your numbers above. 2) How many of the accidents were a directly attributed to the "Yellow to Red" factor? Meaning- locking up the brakes to stop or stomping the pedal on the right to go through (assuming obviously your fellow commuter in front was doing the same)? I don't have the numbers back, but talking with friends that are Murrieta First Responders, most of rear end collisions at those have not occurred in the "Yellow to Red" factor, but at lights already red, and people speeding into the blind turn and driver distraction. They are labeled as at the intersection, because vehicles where stopped on MHS when it occurred.
Patrick McCloud November 16, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Whether they are there or not, will not change my driving style, nor decrease my situational awarness at these dangerous intersections. And I see and agree with arguments on both sides of the issue. My concern is I feel like numbers were twisted, not all facts were involved (on both sides) with numbers and percentages given, and major contributing factors were left out intentionally. I am well aware of how American politics and issues work.....the one who can make the other one look worse with half truths and smoke and mirrors....wins. I voted on this issue based on my personal expericences and that of my friends directly involved with protecting these intersections. I have never seen an accident directly involved with the camera...it has been absent minded drivers, texting, tailgating, speeding, being impatient and just plain not being responsible. Instead of the cameras, what do say we "Remove" those people and re-check the numbers. Hey, but this one dudes view.
Cyclist November 18, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Diana, so you fooled the voters and N passed. WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO PICK UP YOUR SIGNS? All the other signs have been picked up. Keep Murrieta clean.
Diana Serafin November 18, 2012 at 05:42 AM
@Cyclist - I picked up my signs for two days. I even picked up signs in yards. I did see one yesterday that I missed and am planning on picking it up Sunday. By the way, I had all my signs picked up before any other candidates. Several candidates still have their signs up - Calvert, Phillips, Dickson, Paule etc. The No signs were just picked up two days ago and I think the city got them. And no I did NOT LIE to anyone. I got the real facts while the opponents told half truths - left out important facts.
Daniel December 04, 2012 at 09:41 AM
I can't believe this "rme" person is anyone in an actual position of actual power. If he is, we are in a lot of trouble if our public officials are that nasty and childish. I believe anyone of any real consequence or power would have too much dignity to actually go onto a website and anonymously goad citizens simply for disagreeing with him. Then to threaten to increase fines in retaliation for a differing opinion? If this really is a public official, he is a coward for his anonymity and with his childish and retaliatory attitude, he should be removed from his post immediately. Elected or not, public officials are put in place to serve the will of the people, not to act or operate like a fascist dictator baby. I wouldn't be surprised if "rme" was actually someone with connections to the corrupt traffic cam company who is bitter about losing the election. The traffic light company was really the biggest vested interest in this battle, with the most, financially to lose.
Daniel December 04, 2012 at 09:48 AM
Diana, you are a brave person to take on this issue. Not to mention you are completely right about the traffic cams. They are simply a money making scam by the traffic cam companies, sold to gullible cities in the name of "saving lives". What they sell is not safety but fear. The real fear is getting one of these paycheck-decimating red light tickets and having your local government sit back in collusion with these greedy and corrupt red-light cam companies. Diana if you ever decide to run for something I will be happy to work for you.
Craig Martin January 01, 2013 at 06:43 AM
Get a life - you people are pathetic! We voted. Enough people decided the outcome. It is what it is. Deal with it! But I refuse to banter about back and forth with people who have their opinion which differs from mine in a slugfest. This is my one and only comment. Know why. I have better things to dwell on. WTF LMBO OUT!...

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