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12/16/2011Gardena, California Dumps Red Light Camera
Money-losing red light camera program canceled in Gardena, California.
Another city in Los Angeles County, California has opted to shut down red light cameras. On Tuesday, the Gardena City Council unanimously voted to terminate the contract with their Australian automated ticketing vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems, because the program was losing money and failed to reduce accidents.
"Based on the information provided by the city manager, first and foremost the financial hole that this is causing, in addition to the lack of evidence that the program is in fact being effective for what it was designed -- at least at this point in time," said Mayor Paul K. Tanaka. "It may have had its impact early on. It may have been financially feasible at the beginning, but we have come to a point where we have to make a decision."
Gardena allowed Redflex to issue tickets at ten intersections in return for a monthly payment of $35,000, but the program only took in $9925 in revenue in August. The city also compared the number of accidents in 2006 and 2007 at six camera locations to the number of collisions in 2011. Half saw no change or an increase in accidents and the other half saw "single digit" decreases. On October 13, City Manager Mitchell G. Landsell gave Redflex sixty days' notice that it wanted out of the camera contract. With the council's ratification of the staff decision, the termination took effect on December 13.
Redflex took desperate measures to keep from losing the contract, including offering a $60,000 discount on its services and "cost neutrality" contract language. The city would only accept a $99,000 discount. The primary reason revenue is down is that the public is increasingly aware that paying photo tickets within the county is entirely optional.
"On August 24, 2011, I attended a red light camera meeting at the Beverly Hills Police Department to discuss red light program issues," Police Lieutenant Mike Saffell wrote in a September 22 memo. "During that meeting, it was discovered the Los Angeles Superior Court has routinely rejected ways to collect on delinquent or unresolved Redflex citation matters. Superior Court does send the citations to GC Services, a collection agency. However, other than mailing out a collections notice, not much is done to collect if the violator chooses not to pay."
Efforts to convince judges to reverse their opinion on cameras appear unlikely to succeed.
"I contacted city of Gardena Redflex coordinator Joe Chase," Saffell wrote. "I asked Chase if resolving this issue with court collections could be resolved in a timely manner. Chase advised he believes it can. However, it will take significant effort from the involved police agencies to influence the court. Chase believes that the court perceives Redflex's involvement in this issue to be self-serving because Redflex is profit driven."
A local resident who testified at the council meeting was pleased by the decision.
"You can give tonight with your vote all of us who drive in Gardena -- all those who drive through Gardena and all those who refuse to drive through Gardena because of the traffic lights -- a great big Christmas gift by voting to eliminate this program," said Terry Kennedy.
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