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Petition Circulating to Ban Red Light Cameras in Murrieta

If the group is successful in gaining valid signatures, an initiative could go on the ballot next year.

A petition against red light cameras in Murrieta began circulating this week.

Petitioners must gather 4,500 signatures of Murrieta residents who are registered voters in order for it to be considered as a ballot initiative.

"We are trying to get 6,000 just to be safe," said Diana Serafin, lead petitioner.

If she is successful in gathering that many valid signatures, an initiative ordering removal of the cameras could appear on the 2012 ballot, giving voters the ultimate say.

Serafin's main complaint with the cameras has been whether the cameras are operating correctly. She has said yellow lights at the intersections in question are not long enough, which would cause more tickets to be issued.

"We all know camera videos can be manipulated," Serafin states on the website, Banthecamsmurrieta.com. "Other concerns (are) how often the equipment is calibrated, maintained or replaced."

She has also said the cameras cause more rear-end collisions.

Four cameras are installed among three intersections in Murrieta: Nutmeg Street and Clinton Keith Road, Murrieta Hot Springs Road and Whitewood Road and Murrieta Hot Springs Road and Margarita Road. Fines for drivers caught running red lights range from $438 to $540.

At the same time the Murrieta fightback is taking shape, State Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Beaumont, is taking a bigger step by trying to prohibit the cameras statewide. Assembly Bill 1008 was introduced by Cook in February. Besides prohibiting the installation of red light traffic cameras beginning next year, it would require studies for cities to justify existing ones.

“People don't trust government, and red light cameras aren't helping,'' Cook said in a February statement. “I think folks feel like they're being sold a bill of goods. The fines keep going up, and there's no clear evidence that they reduce the number of accidents or lead to greater public safety. Governments need to prove that they work.''

Cook's Chief of Staff John Sobel said AB 1008 is up for its first hearing on April 13.

"We have to feel it out," Sobel said. "That is when we will see if other legislators are supportive. Unless the hearing is delayed, we anticipate a vote on the 13th."

If it gets approved by the Assembly Local Government Committee, the bill will head to a fiscal committee hearing. Should it pass there, it would head to the Assembly floor before going on to the State Senate.

One place the bill is not getting support from is the League of California Cities. In a March 17 letter to Cook's office, the league expressed its opposition to the bill.

"We agree that red light cameras are not a suitable tool for every intersection. This is why current law allows cities to make that decision for themselves, in collaboration with their police department, based on local conditions, and in accordance with established guidelines," wrote Dorothy Holzem, associate legislative representative for the League of California Cities.

"Unfortunately, AB 1008 seeks to preempt local decision making powers for a one-size fits all approach, taking away a safety tool that has been implemented in many cities. For these reasons, the League respectfully opposes your measure."

While Murrieta does not fall under the 65th district, which Cook represents, other Southern California cities that operate red light camera systems include Riverside, Grand Terrace, Palm Desert, Cathedral City, San Bernardino and Victorville.

In 2008, San Bernardino was forced to pay refunds because its yellow lights were too short, according to Sobel.

Cities that had systems but have since shut them down include Loma Linda, Redlands, Rancho Cucamonga, Indian Wells, Yucaipa and Moreno Valley. A contract to install red light cameras in Hemet was signed in 2009, but the system was never ultimately installed, Sobel said.

The contract for Murrieta's cameras expires this year. City Council voted in January to renew the contracts, plus add two more cameras. Murrieta Mayor Randon Lane said Thursday that the City is now 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. "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. Staff said 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.

Tammy Ayala April 01, 2011 at 02:35 PM
I definitely DO NOT support the cameras. My drive home takes me past the ones at Nutmeg and Clinton Keith. I have seen the flash from the camera when it's dark and it does seem that there is very little time between the yellow and red light. I find myself to be so paranoid at that intersection and I think it lends itself to more rear end collisions rather than stopping any kind of run on the red light. I honestly don't trust that it's accurate and would much rather see the Murrieta Police Department enforce the traffic laws.
E Davenport April 01, 2011 at 03:09 PM
I do not support this issue. I watch people especially guys in trucks and sports cars driving like crazy on these streets and everyone is in such a hurry. They just cant wait, they gotta get through that light. I think we do have enough time to stop, we choose not to. I blame it mostly on being in a hurry.
Susan Marsh April 01, 2011 at 04:17 PM
E, when you say you do not support the issue does that mean you do not support the red light cameras or you do not support the removal of the cameras. The cameras do nothing to stop people in a hurry. A red light camera does not teach self control or consideration for other drivers. The cameras need to be removed because they do not function properly. If you drive down Clinton Kieth and stop at Nutmeg would most likely have seen the cameras flash when no one is running a red light. They flash (on a regular bases) when people are making a left turn with an arrow. I noticed this four times in one week.
Stephen April 01, 2011 at 05:13 PM
Susan, the E. Davenport is most likley a scamera hack. They pay their employees to post fake public "support" of RLC. I do a lot of surfing on the subject, and I always enjoy the emotional arguments they try to use to STOP a PUBLIC VOTER REFERENDUM. (the personal favorite "only people who run lights" want to ban them.) These scamera hacks are the Tokyo Roses of the scamera industry. The scamera side is getting desperate. Their Fake front groups are being exposed like what www.bancams.com in WA state did last year. http://www.banthecams.org/20100825433/Washington-State-Wire-ATS-Stands-Behind-Astroturf-Campaign-in-Mukilteo.html These scamera companies have started to try to over turn Democracy like ATS is attempting in Houston, TX where the Voters BANNED RLC in NOVEMBER! http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7318259.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+houstonchronicle%2Ftopheadlines+%28chron.com+-+Top+Stories%29 Quote: "A spokesman for ATS promised after the election that the company would not seek to nullify the outcome of the referendum, but that's exactly what their countersuit is seeking." www.banthecams.org
gregory tucker April 01, 2011 at 05:20 PM
I have lived 2blocks from murrietahot springs rd and whitewood for 6 years. Last year I got fined twice in oneday. First time in 6 years. The judge strongly pressured me to plead guilty to one and take traffic school and not guilty on the other. I went to trial for the second and it was thrown out because the officer in charge of camera tickets did not show. I regret paying for the for the first ticket. I know I was not guilty for either. What a scam to the Murrieta community!
Tammy Ayala April 01, 2011 at 05:34 PM
SUSAN: I totally agree with you! I see those camera lights go off at Nugmeg and Clinton Keith and hold my breath until enough time has gone by and I don't receive something in the mail. I just never thought there was an issue with people running the red light at that intersection anyway. My thinking is that it was put in as a means to collect money from my and other Murrieta resident's pockets! I certainly don't condone running red lights but I don't believe these cameras are helping solve anything. GREGORY: So sorry you got suckered into paying these tickets. I just don't see how they can even hold up in court and there is no evidence that I have seen to prove they work properly. How do I get a copy of the petition to sign it???
G-monkey April 01, 2011 at 10:59 PM
Look I don't like the red lights either, but the rule is simple folks...yellow means get ready to slow down and prepare to stop, certainly not get ready to race through the light like a bat out of hell.
Jim April 01, 2011 at 11:18 PM
The article overlooked AB 3 by local Assemblyman Jeff Miller. It is important because politicians - and their extended family - are IMMUNE to red light camera tickets. In California 1.5 million privately-owned cars have plates protected from easy look up, effectively invisible to agencies trying to process camera violations. The "protected" list includes politicians, bureaucrats, their families, and ADULT children! Unbelievable? Read Cal Veh Code 1808.4. If you think this is unfair, call your local state legislators and ask them to support AB 3. (For comparison, the State of IL has only 5867 cars on its protected list, and TX has 18,323.) Cook's bill pretending to ban cameras should be withdrawn. The beneficiary of this bill is the camera Industry - the pending ban could spark a Gold Rush, like the one that occurred in Dec. 2003 just before the AB 1022 ban on pay-per-ticket contracts was to go into effect. During that single month 11 cities including Del Mar, Escondido, Oceanside, Solana Beach and Vista signed new contracts. Let us encourage Mr. Cook to change the subject of his bill - so that it reduces the fine for rolling right turns.
BILL April 02, 2011 at 12:00 AM
I have lived in Murrieta for over 20 years and have seen the stop light issue become a major issue be of disregard for stop lights. I have not read or heard from the supporters any factual information for their claims of "management" of traffic signals or other related facts that help in there cause. Take a deep breath and pay the fine.
gregory tucker April 02, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Gina I understand what you are saying, however I did not commit a traffic violation for either ticket. I saw the videos. I came to a complete stop and then turned right. What is funny is I have done this hundreds of times at the same intersection. I also notice that the camera goes off when it should not and does not go off when it should. The cameras do not work properly. The cop never showed up at my traffic trial because I was not guilty. Get your first ticket there for no reason and then have to cough up 500 dollars for the city to hold until the ticket gets thrown out and you maychange your mind.
gregory tucker April 02, 2011 at 12:36 AM
E Davenport I agree with you that people drive too fast. On whitewood people go over that hill speeding and not caring that it is in a residential neighborhood. However I would rather pay 500 more in taxes a year to increase the employment of the police in Murrieta than to have a camera. The camera does not work. I obey the laws and it is very hard for me to believe that even if I made a mistake that I would do it twice in one day. I never did it before and never have after. When reviewing the video it showed I did nothing wrong. There has to be a better way
James C. Walker April 02, 2011 at 01:38 AM
Red light cameras are just a cynical means to make money with improper and/or unethical traffic management policies. In almost every case, if you lengthen the yellow intervals, the "red light running problem" almost disappears - AND safety improves more than with a camera program. Red light cameras REQUIRE improper and unsafe engineering to produce enough violations to be profitable. They simply need to be banned. Readers can research the issue on our website, and maybe join us to help get rid of this predatory scourge, nationwide. Regards, James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, www.motorists.org, Ann Arbor, MI
Susan Marsh April 02, 2011 at 04:55 AM
The web site http://banthecamsmurrieta.com/ has the petition for download. It is legal size paper. You can also pick some up at Simply Friends on Washington Street, next door to Old Town Post Office.
Susan Marsh April 02, 2011 at 04:58 AM
Gina, I think we all agree with your point but that is not the point of the cameras or banning the cameras. If you come to a complete stop on Murrieta Hot Springs at Whitewood signal. Then pull forward to make a legal right turn on to Whitewood, you will get a ticket if you roll faster than 10MPH. When you go to court they tell you that you should just plead guilty because they have you on camera. This is wrong. And it happens everyday.
Howard April 02, 2011 at 08:43 PM
We can only hope our neighbors in Murietta stand up for their often honored police department and for public safety. It makes no difference whether an Officer sees you, or a camera... running red lights is dangerous; shows a lack of concern for others; and is illegal. Public safety laws shouldn't even be something people should be voting. Maybe she will go after that nuisance seat belt law next!
gregory tucker April 02, 2011 at 09:12 PM
Howard I do not think you are getting why people are opposed to the cameras. I obey the laws, however getting a ticket for no reason because the cameras either do not work properly or designed to make mistakes is what the issue I have. Increase my taxes so we hire more police to enforce the laws, I am ok with this. I think you need to go to these intersections and stand there for a few minutes. I believe you will be suprise how inaccurate they are. There is absolute no argument that we need to stop the major traffic violations that occur in Murrieta but the cameras are just a money making scam and is not the solution.
gregory tucker April 02, 2011 at 09:19 PM
Howard Are you a resident or are you one of the lobbyist for the Camera industry? The reason I ask is to think that there is no difference than having police out there or cameras, either makes you a little Naive ( no offense) or because you have a bias reason behind it. I prefer paying more to have police on the street thanto pay those behind the camera program. Just think about using our tax dollars in order to allow law enforcement officers to have jobs to support their families or use this same money to feed the greed of this program. For me it is a no brainer lets put more officers on the streets!!!!!!
gregory tucker April 02, 2011 at 09:36 PM
Miscommunication I believe one of the biggest problems that local government has is the lack of communication it has with its residents. One reason why lawmakers look into implentmening programs such as putting cameras in these intersections is that the cost factor is less than increasing the police force. Less money means less taxes, which in return means they become heros of the community. Because we all hate higher taxes. Yet is this really helping our community? Given the fact that recently the pet store near Ralph's became a victim of an armed robbery, I think the answer is no!!!. The lawmakers would be better off increasing taxes and starting a campaign that educates the public that the increase is to provide more jobs to police officers and firefighters. The support would begreater than what they think.
Diana Serafin April 03, 2011 at 01:55 PM
I want to make the intersections SAFE and cameras dfo not. I was a victim of a t-bone and had 71 tiny stiches on my face and 3 plastic surguries. It the yellow would of been longer and the red was set to a four way stop (about 4seconds all red) the accidnet would never of happened. I have had one ticket all my life and it was not a camera. Assemblyman Paul Cook has researched the scam these camera are and has introduced a bill in Sacramento to ban them in California. LA is now under scrutiny for the lies they told. Did you know the cameras and triggers are not maintained or sychronized? I did a freedom of information act request and the camera company refused to give the information to the city. I am going to post it on banthecamsmurrieta.com for everyone to read. It is disgusting what the city is doing to the Murrieta citizens. To make the intersections safe: lengthen the yellos, make a 4 way red (4 seconds) and synchronize the lights. Lona Linda did it and there have been no traffic infractions or accidents at the intersections. This is not about public safety but about raising money. Taxation by Citation.
Diana Serafin April 03, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Gregory: The city budget is 61% goes to the police force. Librarie are more important than our fire dept. thus the library gets more money than our fire dept. I was told by Joy, adminstrator for Mr. Dudley that the libraries are more imp0ortant to citizens than the fire department. This is why the city is billing the fire dept $400,000 twice a year. The city is broke and needs to raise money. the city will deny this but remember city hall is closed in Friday to save money. Also we have one big lawsuit for $25 million dolllars that will banrupt the city. The city is doing land grabs and Calvary Murrieta church must donate 89 acres or they cannot build. The Los Almos homeowners also must donate 40% of their land if they want to sell. fix etc their homes. Also this forced donation includes the homeowner must maintain the donated property, insure it, fence it etc and if it changes pay for it to return to the state it was. FORCED DONATION! It is a crime and a sin. By the way it is all the water ways.
gregory tucker April 03, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Diana Sounds like we need new people in city hall! Personally I believe the police and fire departments should have first priority. I do not believe in the camera program. I believe in a well funded and well run police and fire department. One thing we have not taken in consideration, our city is growing, which means crime is also going to grow. Cameras cannot stop crime effectively. More officers on our streets can.
Diana Serafin April 04, 2011 at 02:15 AM
We do need new blood in the city council. They are on the Obama One World agenda! Now they want to ban smoking in the parks. Control freaks! Not one of them is a constitutionist. They say they took an oath to uphold the constitution but they all want power and control over the people. They work for us!
gregory tucker April 04, 2011 at 02:28 AM
Let's fight to get new council members. Personally if they have screwed up this much, we need those who are for th residents
David Pereira April 04, 2011 at 03:02 PM
It does too make a difference if an officer sees you or not, this is America.
Diana Serafin April 04, 2011 at 03:08 PM
I am looking for candidates to run and I tell everyone what is going on. Yesterday I walked door to door with the camera petition and told everyone what is happening in Murrieta. People are very upset. Lots are unemployed and are angry the city wants to keep building but not allow business here. They will NOT work with any business. Greed. Come to the city council meeting tommorow at 6 pm. We speak and let them know we are fed up.
virginia s June 17, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Diana, I dont think banning smoking in the parks is a good example. The parks are about clean air & recreation, healthy activities. Families, pregnant women etc shouldn't have to breathe other people's smoke. I agreed with everything you said up until that comment.
virginia s June 17, 2012 at 05:27 AM
On the issue of the traffic red light cameras. I completely agree this is a scam against Murrieta and of course all the other cities who have them. Many just simply do not know how this all works. They are proven to not be effective. People just go faster on the yellows and cause accidents that may not have happened otherwise. Get rid of them!!!

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