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Corpus Christi, Texas Residents Seek Camera Ban
Petition effort in Corpus Christi, Texas likely to place red light camera ban on the ballot next year.

Corpus Christi city councilA group of motorists in Corpus Christi, Texas want to see the city's red light camera program come to an end. The city council may decide next week to give up its lucrative contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, the scandal-plagued Australian contractor placed in charge of the devices. Members on Tuesday heard arguments on both sides of the issue but put off making a decision on the matter.

The topic was put on the council's agenda by a group of voters who took advantage of a city charter provision allowing residents to propose measures to the council with a petition. Margareta Fratila, a candidate for an at-large city council seat, led the signature-gathering effort and collected over 400 signatures in four days to qualify. Fratila's proposal is a simple measure that deletes the section of the city ordinance that granted Redflex the power to collect on the $75 citations.

"It is a simple ordinance," Fratila told TheNewspaper in an interview. "These devices can be for safety, but we're not going to charge people $75. Because if you don't charge people $75, they're going to say, 'Take down the cameras because I'm not going to make money.'"

The proposal would not force the city would to breach the photo ticketing contract with Redflex that runs out on April 26, 2017. City officials were worried primarily with the financial effect of running the cameras without being able to make money from the citations. A city memo calculates that it would cost $1 million a year to continue to operate the cameras if the proposed ordinance were to take effect.

If the city council ultimately votes the petition down, then the circulators have 90 days to obtain signatures from five percent of registered voters -- about 8000 people. The measure could be placed on an early spring ballot, just as the ticketing contract runs out.

"I will have 8000 signatures," Fratila said. "This is a very big issue."

Fratila said she is constantly approached by residents from all walks of life while campaigning, and the sentiment is overwhelmingly against the cameras. Texas residents have voted to oust red light cameras in Conroe, Dayton, Houston, Baytown, League City, Arlington and College Station by margins of as much as 77 percent against. Nationwide, voters have overwhelmingly opposed the use of cameras at the ballot box (view list)