Red-light cameras still mired in debate

Red-light cameras at a major intersection in Redwood City were installed to increase traffic safety, but the San Mateo County grand jury questioned their use, suggesting the devices only serve to increase revenue for the city.

After conducting an investigation of camera effectiveness for a June report, the grand jury said the cameras located at the intersection of Whipple Avenue and Veterans Boulevard resulted in an average of 507 citations a month, bringing in potential revenue of $65,636 for the city.

In a response to the jury’s findings Tuesday, Redwood City police Chief Louis Cobarruviaz wrote that the city has had difficulty attaining its portion of the fines from San Mateo County and that some of the citations may be reduced by the traffic court if appealed.

The cameras not only record the running of red lights; they also track a motorist’s failure to stop before making a right turn. The fine for failure to stop is $446, an amount the grand jury said was out of proportion with similar offenses and is often appealed.

State Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, had a bill sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday that would reduce base fines for failure to stop from $450 to $219, which is currently the penalty amount if a driver doesn’t obey a stop sign.

The Redwood City City Council approved Cobarruviaz’s response to the grand jury during Monday’s meeting, but asked the Police Department to return in a month with accident data tied to red-light running during the past three years, City Councilman Ian Bain said.

Cobarruviaz acknowledged the jury’s finding that the cameras, which were installed in March 2008, have not significantly reduced the number of traffic accidents, but he could not provide exact figures.

The City Council will meet again in about a month to discuss the future of the red-light cameras, as the contract is set to expire at the end of the year.

“We want to make sure that if we are going to renew the contract, it’s worth renewing,” Bain said. “Our only interest is traffic safety.”

shaughey@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

Just Posted

San Francisco health experts recommend that pregnant women should receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as a booster shot. (Unai Huizi/Shutterstock)
What pregnant women need to know about COVID and booster shots

Questions regarding COVID-19 booster shots for pregnant people have been pouring in… Continue reading

Examiner reporter Ben Schneider drives an Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle along Beach Street in Fisherman’s Wharf on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Could San Francisco’s tiny tourist cruisers become the cars of the future?

‘Fun Utility Vehicles’ have arrived in The City

Badly needed rain cooled off pedestrians on Market Street in The City on Wednesday. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Storm door opens in San Francisco — what will the rains bring?

‘Come Monday, fire season in Northern California should be done’

The so-called “twindemic” that public health officials in California and elsewhere warned about last year — the combined threat of influenza and COVID-19 — was largely eased by the wide use of face masks, physical distancing and reduced travel, experts say. But their concerns are back this year. (Shutterstock)
COVID and the flu: Is a ‘twindemic’ threat lurking again?

‘Because of so little disease last year, population immunity is likely lower’

49ers' quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo hopes to return to the field this weekend to lead San Francisco against the Colts. (Photo courtesy of 49ers)
NFL Week 7 picks: Niners face crucial matchup against the Colts

San Francisco could join Seattle on the brink of irrelevancy in the NFC West with another loss

Most Read