Red-light cameras will be turned off in Murrieta, but they will not be taken down just yet.
Following the will of 57.26 percent of voters, the cameras are scheduled to be shut down Dec. 14—indefinitely.
Murrieta city council voted unanimously Tuesday night to certify the Nov. 6 election results. According to election law, voter-approved measures such as the one prohibiting red-light cameras in the city must go into effect within 10 days of the results being certified, which is Dec. 14.
Just prior to casting their votes Tuesday, however, council members decided in closed session that the cameras would be turned off pending the outcome of a new lawsuit.
“They are asking the judge to say the initiative is invalid because it is a statewide issue, not a local issue,” said Murrieta City Attorney Jeff Morris.
By “they,” Morris was referring to Safe Streets For Murrieta, which bears the same name as a committee that during the campaign received at least $55,000 from American Traffic Solutions, the company that operates the cameras in Murrieta.
There was no council discussion on the matter; however, a few members of the public urged council members to adhere to voters’ will.
“The citizens beat big business by spending less than $2,500 (on the campaign),” said Diana Serafin, who led the measure effort. “...The citizens of Murrieta are the victors. The red-light cameras are all about money.”
Another resident, Francis Burns, asked the council to “act with integrity.”
“The people behind this initiative followed all the legal guidelines and the process falls under the guidelines of the constitution of the state of California,” Burns said. “I believe that the only course of action the council has...is to remove the red-light cameras at the minimum...I believe if the council decides to take any other action...is to take on...(an) attitude that you know best and that you are going to ignore the will of the people.”
City legal staff explained the suit was filed Monday in Riverside County Superior Court in an effort to stop the city from enforcing the camera ban.
“It is the council’s desire to follow the law,” said City Attorney Leslie Devaney. “The appellate court had (signaled) before the election that they thought the initiative was (in violation) of the council’s discretion. But they didn’t want to rule so they basically said we are going to wait for the election.”
Until and if the court rules otherwise, Devaney said, the city is prepared to shut down the cameras on schedule.