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California: Newport Beach to Vote on Red Light Camera Ban
Newport Beach will become the second California city to hold a referendum on the use of red light cameras.

Newport Beach city council
Voters in another major California community will have the opportunity to ban the use of red light cameras in November. The Newport Beach City Council voted 4-2 on Tuesday to give residents the choice of prohibiting future city councils from using photo enforcement of any kind on city streets. The measure will be part of a package of amendments to the city charter voters will consider on the upcoming ballot.

Newport Beach is one of the country's wealthiest cities, and a majority of city council members believe their constituents share the same views as neighboring Anaheim where 73 percent of voters outlawed automated ticketing machines in 2010. Councilman Keith D. Curry, a former mayor of Newport Beach, acknowledged the city does not have any cameras now but that a ban serves an important purpose.

"I think red light cameras are something that have no place in Newport Beach," Curry said Tuesday. "I think this is a way to establish fidelity with the public that we're not going to use them here."

The language proposed for the charter offers no loopholes for future city councils to escape the ban. Only a vote of the people could bring cameras into the city.

"No ordinance shall be adopted by the city council which would permit or authorize any red light camera or other automated traffic enforcement system in the city of Newport Beach," the proposal states. "Any ordinance adopted by the city council in violation of this section shall be null and void. Neither the city council, nor any officer or employee of the city when acting in his or her official capacity shall... approve, authorize, execute or enter into any agreement or understanding, or take any other action of any nature whatsoever, which would authorize, approve, or in any way facilitate or result in the installation of any red light camera or other automated traffic enforcement system in the city of Newport Beach, including, but not limited to, any agreement or understanding relating to the installation of any red light camera or automated traffic enforcemnt system which would result in receipt by the city."

Though two councilmen voted against sending the measure to voters, they did not do so out of any support for photo enforcement. Councilman Edward D. Selich said he would never vote in favor of red light cameras, but he simply did not like the concept of tying the hands of future city leaders on a policy issue through the city charter. Nevertheless, support for the ban was so widespread that the only public comment on the issue suggested the provision was solely designed to bring enthusiastic voters to the polls.

"I'm with Councilman Curry on the red light camera thing," said one Corona Del Mar resident. "I'm with you, but I'm concerned it could be a ploy to garner support for this charter amendment. Probably it will work."

The city council will vote on calling the election with the finalized red light camera language at the meeting on July 24.

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