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City Council Delays Vote on Red Light Camera Until Tuesday

1:10 PM PDT on June 17, 2011

After a parade of public speakers rose to speak on whether or not the L.A. City Council should overrule the Police Commission and not allow Los Angeles' red light cameras to come down, Councilman Tony Cardenas motioned to delay the final vote until Tuesday so that more City Council Members could be present.  At the time, there were eight Council Members in the room, and all ten would have had to vote for the Cardenas/Parks motion for it to pass.

However, at least two members in the room were clearly in opposition.  Councilman Paul Koretz and Councilman Bill Rosendahl joined Councilman Dennis Zine, who was not present, in speaking out against the cameras.  Koretz read a list of studies done by other cities on the benefits of their red light programs, all of which found the program lacking.

"Red light cameras make no sense for the City of Los Angeles, currently," he concluded.

Oddly, he did not mention his own city's study, which found a reduction of 62% in crashes at intersections where the cameras were implemented.  While 200 cyclists and pedestrians have been killed in car crashes since the cameras were instituted throughout the city, none of them were killed in intersections with the lights.  He also didn't mention that the Federal Highway Administration have found that crashes are reduced at intersections with red light cameras.

Rosendahl conducted a lengthy interview with Rhodes Rigby, the Mayor of Loma Linda.  Loma Linda is a city of 22,000 people and had once installed four red light cameras.  Four years into the project, they pulled them out after one camera was bringing thousands of tickets for people illegally turning right on red lights without stopping.  Apparently Loma Linda's experience is a perfect counterpart to the City of Los Angeles which has over four million people and installed 32 red light cameras.

Rigby and Rosendahl both believe that illegally turning right at a red light without stopping isn't a major issue.  Rigby even stated that "few crashes and fewer injuries" are caused by these crashes.

Since I know the Councilman's staff reads Streetsblog, let's say it again, with links:

When the Federal Highway Administration discusses the conflict between pedestrians and automobiles it ranks “right on red” as the top concern.  A look at crash fatality statistics nationwide shows that in Los Angeles, almost one quarter of all crash fatalities are pedestrians.

Which is not to say the cameras didn't have its share of support in the Council.  In addition to Alarcon and Parks, Councilmen Jose Huizar and Richard Alarcon both spoke in favor of the motion to continue the program.  Alarcon noted that the issue is personal for him and that, "There is a culture we need to change in Los Angeles, and in particular in the San Fernando Valley."

The Council is expected to vote on this issue next Tuesday.  Before the Council debate began a group of speakers that included public health and public safety officials spoke in favor of keeping the lights while a coalition of neighborhood activists and one technology expert spoke against.  During one particularly moving part of testimony, when a family showed a picture of their daughter killed by a red light runner at an intersection, Council Woman Jan Perry, who was chairing the meeting allowed them to speak well over their allotted time.

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