Council approves first red-light camera

Local red-light runners will face tougher enforcement once police determine the best spot to install the city’s first camera to fight the violation.

The red-light camera, unanimously approved by the City Council this week, is expected to reduce traffic violations in the same way it has in other cities where the cameras have been installed. But debate about where to put it lingers, given that multiple intersections in San Carlos, including several on El Camino Real and the one at San Carlos Avenue and Walnut Street, have seen several accidents involving red-light violations since 2004, said police Chief Greg Rothaus.

Walnut Street at San Carlos Avenue should be the top choice, resident Nick Pegueros told the City Council on Monday.

“[F]or some reason people fly through [the intersection],” Pegueros said. “It’s quite frightening.”

The have been 11 accidents at the intersection since 2004, six involving red-light runners, Rothaus said.

A number of cities in the county have installed red-light cameras since the first, San Mateo, adopted them in 2005. Millbrae’s red-light violations at Millbrae Avenue and Rollins Road have dropped 80 percent, City Manager Ralph Jaeck said.

But the technology has come with its share of snags. San Mateo was sued in 2006 by several motorists who were ticketed, buta court commissioner found that the city was using the cameras legally.

San Carlos’ contract with Reflex provides one camera at a cost of $5,870 per month. To break even, the camera must issue six citations per day — assuming that two of the six violators will pay the fine, which brings roughly $140 to the city.

City leaders will determine by the end of the year where to install the first camera. If it isn’t on El Camino, the camera could then be installed in a matter of weeks, Rothaus said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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