L.A. City Council Reaches No Decision on Red-Light Camera Program
LOS ANGELES - Members of the Los Angeles City Council on June 21 and June 22 reached a stalemate on the issue of whether the city should continue its red-light traffic camera program, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The council failed to get the required votes to resurrect the controversial program six weeks before it is scheduled to end. In essence, the council failed to overturn a decision by the Police Commission.
During the June 21 meeting, seven of the council members sided with the Police Commission, which voted to kill the program two weeks ago. Just five council members voiced support for the cameras, which are used to ticket motorists for crossing against the light or failing to come to a full stop. Three council members were absent. Because neither side could muster a majority -- eight votes -- the issue was returned to the L.A. City Council agenda.
The next day produced more debate and proposals up for a vote, but the issue remained unresolved. That led the council to refer the matter to its Budget and Finance Committee for further study.
The city has 4,683 intersections; 32 have red-light cameras. A Los Angeles Times investigation in 2008 found that in general such red-light camera programs get most of their enforcement money from citing rolling-stop right turns. A private company, Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, operates the cameras. But the city's contract with the firm is about to expire.
Proponents of the program say it promotes safe driving and they want the contract renewed. Opponents argue that the program is unfair and too expensive to run.
Last year, the L.A. City Controller's office conducted a study that found that the red-light program costs the city $1 million each year, but 45 percent of the resulting citations go unpaid -- without any real consequence to the motorist ignoring the ticket.