Los Angeles Red-Light Cameras Cost Taxpayers $2.6 Million With Little Gained

Updated after the jump with comments from city Controller Wendy Greuel. First posted at 9 a.m.

Those red-light cameras that have you gunning through yellows with a baseball cap over your eyes, your car's visors flipped down (to avoid being photographed and sent a ticket) appear to have done little to increase safety -- but have certainly cost Los Angeles taxpayers.

L.A. Controller Wendy Greuel was scheduled to release an audit today showing that the cameras, which were intended to make money, actually cost city coffers $2.6 million "without full cost recovery," according to her office. And it gets worse:

According to Greuel's tease of the audit, she found that the 32 red-light cameras installed in the city since 2006 "have not necessarily been installed at the City's most dangerous intersections" and that " ... there was only a reduction in traffic accidents at 50 percent of the intersections with red light cameras."

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Add to that the fact that, as LA Weekly was first to report in December of 2009, the Villaraigosa Administration plans to double the number of red-light cameras to 64 even though the deeply unpopular system has issued these costly, $446 tickets to thousands of Angelenos during a period of 13 percent unemployment.

As the Weekly further reported in February this year, folks are so broke, and the Los Angeles City Council and Villaraigosa have jacked up so many fees and tickets, that L.A. residents are asking judges if they can work 55 hours of community service to pay off a single, sky-high, traffic ticket.

Update: On Wednesday Greuel lamented at the cameras were not placed at the city's most-dangerous intersections but rather were divvied up among the City Council's 15 districts.

Greuel notes that two of the worst intersections, South La Brea Avenue and West Sixth Street and Hayvenhurst Street and Nordhoff Avenue -- with 24 accidents and two fatalities between them between 2003 and 2005 -- did not get red-light cameras.

But Whittier Boulevard and Lorena Street, in Councilman Jose Huizar's 14th District, and the site of only two accidents during that time, got a red-light camera.

"If public safety is the number one priority of the Photo Red Light Program, then the most dangerous intersections should be selected, period," said Greuel. "Regardless of the reasons, the cameras are only effective if they're placed at the most dangerous intersections. If we don't use them effectively we're putting Angelenos lives in danger."


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