(Update: The L.A. Times reports there was more chicanery at City Council today and the motion has been sent back to the Finance and Budget Committee, Chaired by red light camera backer Bernard Parks. Streetsblog still believes that it is wildly unlikely the program should be saved and the Council should focus on what to do with the the money “saved” by killing the program.)
While the Los Angeles City Council didn’t formally vote to end the city’s red-light camera program, the writing is clearly on the wall. Of the twelve members present, seven voted to end the program, and of the three absent at least Greig Smith has voiced opposition to the program. To raise the bar even higher, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is backing the Police Commission’s unanimous vote to end the program.
While we thank Council Members Richard Alarcon, Tony Cardenas, Tom LaBonge, Bernard Parks and Jan Perry for their leadership, it’s time to turn the page and ask the City Council how they plan to make streets safer for all users if cameras aren’t the answer. In opposing the motion to continue the program, Councilman Bill Rosendahl claimed the program cost the city $2.6 million a year and Councilman Paul Krekorian argued that “Every cent we spend on this is a cent we’re not spending on something else.”
This implies that the City Council is planning on spending the $2.6 million on something else, and not just using it to fix a small part of the City’s budget deficit. The question should now be, how can the city most effectively spend those funds.
Obviously, none of the Council stated opposition to safe traffic crossings, although Councilman Dennis Zine is urging motorists not to pay traffic camera tickets after they break the law, and thus the Council ordered a study of whether or not extended yellow lights or short “all red” times in cycles can reduce crashes. A study is a good first step, but as the city moves farther from the recent debate over cameras, the urgency to fund innovative projects is diminished.
So what can be done? Read more…