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Murrieta Red-Light Camera Initiative to Remain on Ballot

A three-justice appeals court panel ruled Tuesday that the Murrieta red-light camera initiative be allowed to remain on the November ballot.

An initiative to remove red-light cameras from Murrieta shall remain on the November ballot, a Riverside appeals court panel ruled Tuesday.

A three-justice panel from the 4th Appellate District Division 2 reversed Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia’s Aug. 3 decision. Ottolia had struck down the initiative, saying traffic laws are a matter of statewide concern.

Murrieta residents Diana Serafin and Robin Nielson brought the initiative forth. It was challenged in June with a lawsuit from former Murrieta traffic commissioner Steve Flynn, who along with the Murrieta Police Department was instrumental in bringing the cameras to the city in 2006.

Working on behalf of the initiative backers, Attorney Peter Lepiscopo argued after Ottolia’s decision that “the judge has skipped over the requirement that this challenge happen promptly. It should have happened in November 2011 when the City Council approved the initiative."

Lepiscopo submitted the case to the California Supreme Court, which redirected it to appeals court.

On Tuesday, the appellate panel released its opinion to reverse Ottolia’s decision based on the timing of lawauit.

“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.

The panel’s opinion stated that Flynn “delayed several months before bringing a legal action to remove the proposal from the ballot, and this delay, combined with the fact that the measure can be challenged after the election if it is approved, are decisive factors in persuading this court to order that the proposal remain on the ballot.”

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters Office confirmed Wednesday that the measure would be on the November ballot.

Measure backer Serafin has begun walking neighborhoods passing out campaign signs.

"I am just excited that this is on the ballot, that the people will have the chance to vote," Serafin told Patch Wednesday.

Lepiscopo agreed.

"We are pleased with the court of appeal's decision placing the initiative back on the ballot for November," Lepiscopo said. "The three-judge panel agreed with our arguments that the will of the people should decide whether to approve the initiative. Now it's up to the people to decide."

As for Flynn, he said he respects the panel’s decision but still firmly believes in the cameras.

“It doesn’t mean the battle is over…we are still going to take it to the people,” Flynn told Patch. “If the cameras save one life, isn’t it worth it? We have gotten our voice out there and we are going to keep getting our voice out there.”

B-Cat September 21, 2012 at 09:29 PM
There are those elections coming up, lets ask those running for office ahead of time to state their position on the red light cameras, and have they researched the situation already to say for sure that they will not change their minds afterword. By now those running for office should know what their answer should be as this has been a very HOT TOPIC for quite a while. I want to see flyers and election posters [please dont remove them anymore till the election is over] Say in big bold letters "No Red Light Cameras" Want to get elected? then listen to your constituents, thats about 90% of them who consider this red light short yellow wrong. Thank You.
Laura October 18, 2012 at 08:23 PM
if they ban the cams, should those that have tickets not pay them, just like they did in Los Angeles? Many people wasted their money paying these tickets and were so upset when they ban the cameras. Does anybody know of anyone who has not paid the ticket in Murrieta? let us know your thoughts, or if you know of anyone who got away with not paying the ticket. Give some of us hope.
Diana Serafin October 18, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I got flashed again! I was in the middle of the intersection, light was yellow and the camera flashed. I never did see if it turned red because my focus went to the camera and then to the clock. This is twice I was flashed - Sunday for a green light and today for a yellow. It is not illegal to go through a yellow but I am sure I will get a ticket! Maybe two - one for a totally green light and one for a yellow!
Laura October 19, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Diana, Let me know how that goes, this camera stuff if crap, a scam if you tell me. It has not made our streets safer, I still read about hit and runs virtually weekly in Murrieta. I just moved here, and now think I should not drive due to the red light cams. I am getting ready to go somewhere where I have to go onto MHSprings Rd, I think I will let me husband drive. Each ticket is $480, and if you go to traffic school your looking at an addition $100-150, what a scam!!!!! When will the results from the ballot appear?

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