Loma Linda considers removing red-light cameras



Loma Linda considers removing red-light cameras
Stephen Wall, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/26/2009 07:10:43 AM PDT

LOMA LINDA - The city's experiment with red-light cameras may be coming to an end.

Nearly four years after the cameras were put in at four intersections, the City Council is looking at the possibility of removing them.

The council has directed staff members to investigate its options for terminating its five-year contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, the Arizona-based company that operates the cameras. The contract expires in a little more than a year.

Councilman Rhodes Rigsby gave a presentation to his colleagues last week, challenging the view that the cameras have cut down on accidents caused by red-light runners.

"Most well-conducted studies show that red-light cameras increase overall accident rates," Rigsby said.

He added that the city is not benefiting financially from the cameras and that many people have complained about them.

The cameras are at the corners of Redlands Boulevard and Anderson Street; Redlands Boulevard and Mountain View Avenue; Barton Road and Anderson Street; and Barton Road and Mountain View Avenue.

In addition to looking into removing the cameras, the council agreed with Rigsby's proposal to investigate lengthening the duration of yellow lights at intersections with cameras by one second.

Studies have shown that longer yellow lights are more effective in reducing violations and decreasing accidents than red-light cameras, Rigsby said.

In January 2007, a year after the cameras became operational, a San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department official told the council that the number of red-light violations and accidents at intersections with cameras decreased as the year progressed.

Since then, the number of accidents has "leveled out," sheriff's Lt. Nina Jamsen told the council last week.

The council asked the sheriff's department to come back with an updated report about the program.

According to the city's finance department, Loma Linda has received a little more than $2 million in revenue and paid nearly $1.7 million in contract expenses since the program began.

After peaking in 2007, revenue has dropped the past two years, officials said.

The city's contract with Redflex is cost neutral, meaning that it does not pay more than the revenue received.

The city gets less than 30 percent of the fine, which is $456, officials said. The amount can be more if the violator has other fines or unpaid tickets and less if a judge dismisses the citation.

Councilman Ovidiu Popescu, who was elected after the cameras were installed, said he gets about one complaint per month about the devices.

"I'm here to represent the citizens," Popescu said. "The citizens do not like these. I'm very much in favor of removing them."

Councilmen Robert Ziprick and Floyd Petersen said they voted to put in the cameras to increase safety, not to generate revenue.

"As far as I'm concerned, if they never raised one dollar, that would be fine," Ziprick said.

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