The Murrieta City Council voted 4-0 to send a citizento the November 2012 ballot.
Councilwoman Kelly Bennett was absent, but the council members present decided on the ballot option over the other two choices of putting the initiative in effect immediately or commissioning a staff report within 30 days.
"...Until the vast majority of the registered voters in this community say we do not want them, until I am told otherwise on election day, I will stand by that," said Mayor Randon Lane, referring to his belief that the red-light cameras increase safety.
The decision came after a nearly two-hour discussion that included public comments from camera supporters and opponents, as well as reports from the Murrieta Police Department about the effectiveness of the red-light cameras.
Murrieta Police Chief Mike Baray provided statistics that showed less broadside traffic accidents at the intersections where cameras are installed versus others nearby where they aren't.
"As we look at our city's fiscal year 2010-2011, we did not have any murders, but at the same time we had five traffic-related fatalities in our city; traffic is an issue in our city," Baray said.
According to Baray, there have been 15 broadside accidents at the three intersections since 2006. At comparable intersections, there have been 45, he said.
Additionally, he said red-light violations have decreased at all three intersections where cameras are installed: Murrieta Hot Springs and Margarita roads, Murrieta Hot Springs and Whitewood roads and Clinton Keith Road and Nutmeg Street.
At Murrieta Hot Springs and Whitewood, Baray said violations have dropped from 3,150 a month to 85 since 2005, when the cameras were installed. At Clinton Keith and Nutmeg, he said they've dropped from 750 to 16, and at Murrieta Hot Springs and Margarita, from 1,200 to 20.
Murrieta police Cpl. Jay Froboese, who oversaw the implementation of the cameras in 2005 after getting direction from the Traffic Commission, said those who gathered the petition signatures used information against the cameras that did not pertain to Murrieta, but other cities.
"All their information comes off these websites...and all this gets rehashed but it is not Murrieta’s program, it is not how we run our program," Froboese said.
Out of 13 public speakers, eight supported the cameras and seven opposed.
One anti-camera speaker called videos shown at the meeting by the Murrieta Police Department of two recent near-miss accidents "propaganda."
"Why don't we add cameras in all banks and businesses, we can eliminate robberies," said another resident, Donald Parsley, who opposes the cameras. "Oh wait, we already have cameras in all the banks and businesses and that doesn’t eliminate robberies, neither will cameras solve the problem of people running red lights.
"You saw that it doesn't work to provide cameras there, those two pictures proved it."
Murrieta resident Carol Carson spoke in favor of red-light cameras.
"I am a recipient of a red-light camera ticket and it has made me a better driver, more cautious," Carson said. "And if people are better drivers they don’t have to worry about getting a ticket."
Those who want the cameras removed finished a months-long petition drive, coming up with 4,502 signatures, 32 over the required amount.
Mayor Pro Tem Doug McAllister said out of an estimated 104,000 Murrieta residents, there were 44,691 registered voters.
"It was only 32 signatures, that is why we are here tonight," McAllister said.
"I have to believe 33 of those people would not have signed" had they had different information.
"I think it is important that the citizens of Murrieta hear all the information."
McAllister compared red-light camera enforcement to another enforcement mechanism used by Murrieta police: DUI checkpoints.
"Most of the times the violations on red-light cameras unintentional...and those folks who are driving drunk...I don’t think many of them thought 'I am going to go out and kill someone while driving drunk.'
"Sometimes you run a light and there is not a victim; sometime you can drive home drunk and there is no victim. And sadly, with drunk driving there are many victims.
"Red-light cameras don’t stop everyone; DUI checkpoints don’t stop every drunk driver."