Traffic-ticket-producing red-light cameras could be on their way out in California. The city of Los Angeles long ago put its red-light cameras out to pasture after it was revealed they weren't pulling in the expected windfall. And the state legislature is considering a bill that would ban new red-light cameras. Legislation would also require existing ones to have their existence justified by safety studies.
But Beverly Hills is going its own way on this issue.
The city this week announced that it will soon install all-new cameras at select intersections under a contract with a new vendor, Xerox State and Local Solutions, that was approved by the City Council in October.
But the big news here is that those intersections will include three new locations as well as all of the old ones where the loathed, nearly $500 tickets were generated.
The new intersections include Crescent Drive and South Santa Monica Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard and Benedict Canyon Drive, and Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Drive, a police official told us.
The existing locations are Wilshire Boulevard and Whittier Drive, Sunset Boulevard and Hillcrest Road, Olympic Boulevard and Roxbury Drive, Olympic Boulevard and Doheny Drive, and Wilshire Boulevard and Beverly Drive.
The official, who did not want to be quoted because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the new intersections were chosen, in part, by the vendor, which observed and analyzed traffic conditions beforehand.
The locations are mainly chosen as a result of high levels of violations and because of safety concerns, city officials have said in the past. Sounds like the vendor could have a profit motive in suggesting additional intersections, though.
After each new camera is installed in the next 30 to 60 days, alleged violators will get only warnings for 30 days after the devices go live, police said. According to a city statement:
There will be a 30-day warning period, prior to the issuance of citations, at each monitored intersection. For this 30-day period, notices of warning will be sent to the registered owners of vehicles captured on camera committing red light violations. At the end of this 30-day period, actual notices of violation will be issued by the Police Department.
Of course, it's been well-noted here that experts say you can pretty much ignore red-light camera tickets issued in the county of Los Angeles with few repercussions.
Drivers' advocate Jay Beeber, known for pressuring the city of Los Angeles to lower the prices and zeal associated with its parking ticket program, is nonplussed that Beverly Hills is bucking the tide.
Beeber thinks the expansion is all about trying to get more money from motorists. "When you're trying to generate income, you use whatever tools you can," he said.
He fought successfully last year to get the state to require a new way to measure yellow-light phases that will lengthen them at many red-light camera intersections.
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Beeber's inspiration was Beverly Hills' notorious Wilshire Boulevard-Whittier Drive camera, which he says has been a cash cow because traffic flows in at 40 miles per hour or more downhill only to be met with a red-light camera with a short yellow light as vehicles cross the Beverly Hills city line.
While police argue that the cameras make streets safer, Beeber argues that the shorter yellows paired with knowledge that a camera is flashing photos of faces and license plates causes some drivers to stomp their brake pedals which, in turn, can cause motorists behind them to rear-end them.
"They're very intransigent," Beeber said of Beverly Hills city officials. "They're doubling down."