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Movement to Ban Red Light Cameras in Murrieta Gathers Steam

More than 3,800 residents have signed a petition, asking city officials to take down the cameras.

Those milling around the Father's Day Car Show in Murrieta on Sunday might have been approached to sign a petition.

Murrieta resident Diana Serafin is leading an effort--Ban the Cams--to get the city's red light cameras taken down.

"We plan to be at the Birthday Bash, too," said Serafin Monday, referring to the City of Murrieta's 20th Birthday Bash, scheduled for Sunday at .

She can also be seen most days in front of Walmart, Stater Bros. or Albertson's, or walking door-to-door gathering signatures. She also offers voter registration as part of the signature drive.

Serafin must gather 4,500 signatures by September in order for an initiative to remove the cameras to appear on the ballot. By Sunday, Serafin said she had reached more than 3,850. Once all the signatures are verified, the initiative will be passed on for a decision by City Council, which can approve or decide to add it to the next election.

Serafin plans to collect at least 6,000 signatures, in the event some signatures are rendered null. Signers must be registered voters and live in Murrieta.

The petition making its way around Murrieta comes at the same time Los Angeles City Council is pondering whether to eliminate the cameras in their city. American Traffic Solutions is the company that carries contracts with both Los Angeles and Murrieta and is the largest provider in North America.

"Red-light running is the leading cause of urban crashes, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety," said Kate Coulson, manager of communications and outreach for Scottsdale, Ariz.-based American Traffic Solutions.

"More people are injured in crashes involving red-light running than in any other crash type," Coulson said.

The Los Angeles Police Commission voted 5-0 earlier this month to end the program, citing concerns that it is running a deficit, in part because state law does not mandate that judges actively enforce traffic tickets generated by the cameras. It is up to the citizen to make good on tickets.

The discussion about Los Angeles' cameras is expected to be picked up again by its city council tonight. At least two council members have indicated they will ask the police commission to keep the cameras active on a month-to-month basis.

The Los Angeles Police Commission has until July 31--when the program is set to expire--to extend the photo red light program.

to ban the cameras statewide died in the hearing process in April. Cook's office has said it will work with law enforcement to fine tune the bill and bring it back.

In Murrieta, the city's camera contracts expire this year. Cameras are located at Murrieta Hot Springs and Whitewood roads, Murrieta Hot Springs and Margarita roads and Nutmeg and Clinton Keith Road.

City Council voted in January to renew the contracts, plus add two more cameras. But Murrieta Mayor Randon Lane said in April that the city was working on a contract to keep only the four cameras in place.

That means the two additional cameras proposed at freeway off-ramps at northbound Interstate 15 and Murrieta Hot Springs Road, and at southbound Interstate 215 at Murrieta Hot Springs Road, will not be going in anytime soon.

"We are kind of in limbo. There is a lot of cost to putting more equipment in," Lane said at the time. "We are working on a contract that will allow us to keep these in place until we see how the initiatives go. Then if they pass, we won't be out that money."

The City pays a monthly fee to operate the cameras, which under the new contract is $21,035.

The cameras capture photos of drivers if they run a red light, as shown in the attached YouTube video by American Traffic Solutions (ATS). Once accepted by ATS, photos are then sent to officers at the Murrieta Police Department for review. If the offense if confirmed, drivers receive tickets in the mail. Fines range about $500.

The city stands to profit about $4,703 per year under the contract. Council members have talked about giving that revenue to charities.

"I think a lot of people start to have a second opinion when we tell them we don't make money off (the cameras)," Lane said.

"We don't set the fines, the states does," he added.

City News Service contributed to this report.

St Pete Driver June 21, 2011 at 04:38 PM
Red light cameras do not save lives. There are not even any valid studies that make that claim. In fact, the majority of studies show that installation of red light cameras leads to a significant increase in both crashes and injuries. If safety is the real motivation, then the cameras should be removed and yellow signal times should be increased.
Roy T Tatar June 21, 2011 at 06:11 PM
The hated red light cameras do not improve safety. Safety is a myth used by cops & politicians to justify their existence, so they do not have to find a real job. The fines are used to fund the salaries of the overpaid & over-pentioned cops. Remove the cameras & lay off the cops sitting in A/C rooms playing god by deciding who receives the ridiculous tickets. This would save money for the city & the unfortunate citizens of Murrieta. Another suggestion: do not buy anything in Murrieta, denying sales tax revenue to a city that treats it's citizens as enemies & chumps.
Diana Serafin June 22, 2011 at 11:21 AM
It is amazing how many people I meet that are uneducated about the cameras. They believe the city council and the police department that the cameras prevent accidents, save lives, stop speeders etc. If they would research cities like Loma Linda, Los Angeles, Upland etc, they would see learn the truth - cameras cause more accidents and do not stop speeders, cause more rear end accidents and blind people when they flash. Another important fact is we will see more cameras and eventually become an England, with more freedoms lost. England has a camera every 100 feet every where in the country. Big Brother watching you. This is not what America was founded on! Why do people want their children & grandchildren living under the Big Brother. Sign the petition to remove cameras in Murrieta. www.banthecamsmurrieta.com
Jim June 22, 2011 at 07:48 PM
Viva Diana! Get rid of the cameras. Lengthen the yellows. Why lengthen yellows? It is a real cheap way to reduce accidents - so it can be done at every dangerous corner in the region, not just at a few corners, as with with the expensive cameras. A well-done academic study says that a 1/2 sec. longer yellow cuts severe crashes by 30%, and a full sec. longer makes a 40% cut. (Source: "Development of Guidelines for Treating Red-Light Running," Texas Transportation Institute, pg 2-20.) Even though longer yellows reduce crashes, the camera Industry wants to SHORTEN them! If passed, AB 529, by Asm. Gatto (Glendale), will allow cities to reduce many posted speed limits by 5 mph. The lower limits will, in turn, allow them to shorten yellows. The shortening permitted by a 5 mph decrease in the limit will increase the number of tickets by at least 50%. (Four of the sponsoring cities have red light cameras.) Worse, the shortening will increase severe accidents, by 30 to 40%. (Source: The TTI study, pg. 2-20.) (The accident rate increases less than does the number of violations because many accidents occur multiple seconds after the light has gone red - the driver is impaired (medical condition, liquor, drugs), and fails to see the red light, at all.) AB 529 is moving along, fast, with a vote scheduled soon. Phone your assemblyperson and your state senator, ASAP. It takes no more than 3 minutes per call. And then phone the AAA and ask them to oppose AB 529.
Plate Hood July 03, 2012 at 03:53 AM
The Photo Enforcement program has never been about safety. How can blinding and distracting drivers with a searing flash improve anyones "safety". The entire Photo Enforcement program is nothing short of a money grab and nothing else. I protect my privacy and hard earned dollars from photo enforcement with the PlateHood. http://www.platehood.com

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