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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.”

Diana Serafin September 20, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Anyone wanta yard sign, email d.serafin@verizon.net
tracie hixson September 20, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Thank you for taking a stand. Another unnecessary way to extort money to the cities. We already pay DMV fees for the right to drive, buy insurance, and pay property taxes to support police to enforce driving laws. Government, at all levels, are disguising ways to tax individuals.
Sue K September 20, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Thank you Diana Serafin and Attorney Peter Lepiscopo for standing up for our rights when others sit at the helm we gave them and try to tell us what is best for us...you rock!
Ed Remmell September 20, 2012 at 05:16 PM
The fine for rolling right on red (like trying to beat a yellow light) are *way* too steep, almost $500. As expensive as if you just barrel straight through the red light. That is whacked. They probably make a lot of money off those rolling right on red violations. I say BAN THE CAMS.
Kevin Clark September 20, 2012 at 05:24 PM
To Steve Flynn and his "company". A red light camera will generate cash, but it will never save a life. The entire system is constitutionally defective, ie, confront your accuser. I witnessed a young kid in a small gray car get a ticket, (picture taken) while making a legal right hand turn from Murrieta Hot Springs Road onto Whitewood. Why did the camera take the pic? I couldn't tell you but if I was asked under oath, did he come to a complete stop and then safely proceed the answer would be YES. But rather than fight it he probably paid it because after all ,there is a picture of him and this company says you did it. Thanks Ms. Serifin.
Michelle Deskin September 20, 2012 at 06:15 PM
The right to question our accuser is a right we all have. How can you question a red light camera & get it answered, you can't.....
Galactic Cannibal September 20, 2012 at 09:19 PM
The arrogance of the DMV and the Cops when they tell you that "you are privileged to drive on our roads" Are these people totally dumb and stupid. Privileged my ass, The roads are built and paid for by taxes and licenses collected from the people. How is that a privilege when you and I pay for these roads. I see the use of the word privilege relating to driving as very pervasive and arrogant
B-Cat September 20, 2012 at 10:19 PM
I think just to many innocent drivers will get caught without a possible chance of explaining the circumstances. Nothing should ever be written in stone [except the 10 commandments] To appeal the decision one goes to what he/she feels is a kangaroo court, so why bother? $500.00 please. The yellow light i believe is state mandated on the length of time it must remain on, i have doubts that this system we have complies, and if it dosnt what would be the obvious reason? I never received a ticket but why must i drive apprehensively and worry? that causes accidents. Dump this system now and trust the drivers of Murrieta to do the right thing
Tom Courbat September 20, 2012 at 10:40 PM
I've been told by someone with knowledge of this that over 90% of the time, when an issue like this goes on the ballot, the cameras end up getting outlawed. So keep up the good work, get as much help as you can, and let's remove this invasion of our privacy as well as putting boucou (sp?) bucks into the hands of a company (ATS) with alleged questionable ethics.
Laura September 21, 2012 at 05:55 AM
It is my understanding that these cameras are inefficient. I believe Los Angeles unplugged their cameras. This is what I read on the ABC News site. " The city's Police Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday calling for an end to the traffic cameras, claiming their costly presence does not actually make streets safer. The decision still has to be approved by the City Council, but according to Councilman Dennis Zine, the move was a right one. "The program has many flaws," he told ABCNews.com. He said that Los Angeles loses about $1 million annually to keep the cameras up. Tickets which are issued cost drivers about $500, but for each ticket the city receives less than $150, he said. In addition, the program is not supported by the courts, making the possibility of getting caught less threatening to motorists, and the violations do not go on drivers' records, Zine said. "If more and more people realize there are no consequences, more and more people aren't going to pay," the councilman said, meaning the cameras will cost taxpayers even more to maintain the system."
LisaB September 21, 2012 at 05:55 AM
So rolling through a red light or speeding to try and beat that yellow is "OK?" The laws should be rewritten so that it states "rolling through red lights (or even stop signs) is permissible as long as you are too busy to make that complete stop". And "all drivers should speed through the intersection so as to try and beat that yellow". So when you illegally roll through that red light and somebody who was legally going through their green light t-bones your car and seriously injures you (possibly kills you), is that $500 too steep then? Driving laws are there for a reason, to keep everyone safe. Don't misread me here, I completely agree that red light cameras should be taken away, but not for the arguments portrayed here. Red light cameras DO NOT cause more accidents, people following too closely or "trying to beat the yellow" cause more accidents. The face your accuser argument - you have every right to go to court to fight your ticket. An officer will then show you video footage of your violation from several angles and at what point the light changed. It is fail proof and 99% of those accused choose traffic school once they've seen the footage. But that same footage can prove your innocence. Computers can be erroneous, so go to court and fight using their own evidence against them. At least here you have photographic proof vs the word of an officer. My point is, your arguments don't hold up. Cameras need to go, Yes. But give better arguments against them...
Diana Serafin September 21, 2012 at 11:33 AM
This week, I met a couple that got ticketed twice and both times it was not them driving. This was here in Murrieta. They had to go to court to prove it was not them nor their car. That means pay the money up front, take time off from work, go to court, win, and then wait a month for their money to be returned to them. @LHM Videos can be cropped and manipulated. Thus showing someone stopped can be cut out of the video. Some of the camera companies have been caught doing this.
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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