Red-light cameras may become a thing of the past in Murrieta if City Council concurs with city administrators.
City Manager Rick Dudley and police Chief Mike Baray have submitted a recommendation to conclude the red-light camera program and end the city’s contract with American Traffic Solutions.
City Council will be asked to vote on the matter at a public meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The city’s five-year contract with Scottsdale, Ariz.-based American Traffic Solutions—previously Nestor Traffic Systems—dates back to 2005, when, at the prompting of the Murrieta Police Department and Public Safety Traffic Commission, cameras were installed at the first of three intersections.
But in 2011, a citizens’ movement began in an effort to ban the city from using automated traffic enforcement such as the cameras. They were successful in gaining enough signatures for the item to be placed on the November 2012 ballot, when 57 percent of Murrieta voters approved Measure N.
In the meantime, due to the pending ballot initiative and subsequent lawsuits, the city and ATS kept the cameras in place on a month-to-month basis, City of Murrieta Management Analyst Brian Ambrose wrote in a report prepared for City Council.
The cameras were shut off Dec. 14 following the November election; however City officials expressed disbelief when they learned that ATS kept its sensors on, enabling the company to continue collecting data on "citable red-light violations."
In April, Riverside Superior Judge Daniel Ottolia overturned Measure N, ruling that traffic matters were regulated by the State of California; therefore the City of Murrieta was not legally bound to enforce it.
Following Ottolia’s decision, City Attorney Jeffery Morris told Patch it was the City Council’s decision whether it would adopt Measure N.
While the recommendation before City Council does not address Measure N, it calls for an end to the red-light cameras.
“...It is recommended that the City Council direct the City Manager to draft a letter to ATS requesting the removal of the red light cameras, equipment and all software associated with the Program,” Ambrose wrote in the resolution up for a City Council vote.
There were two goals when the program was first implemented, Ambrose wrote: reduce red-light violations and reduce dangerous broadside traffic collisions caused by red-light violations.
“During the years the program was operational, the Murrieta Police Department provided updates on the program’s effectiveness. On both stated goals, the program was successful according to quantitative data," Ambrose wrote. "However, issues were raised regarding the cost of red light tickets (set by the State) and other issues.”