• News Ticker alerts

The city of San Diego intends to continue its controversial red light photo traffic ticketing system, but a decision on whether to expand the number of camera-covered intersections beyond the installations already in place seems likely to be left up to the next mayor.

That's the message derived from a so-called request for proposal posted yesterday on the city's procurement website.

"Currently there are fifteen intersections equipped with an automated red light photo system and photograph over 4,000 potential violation events each month," according to the document.

"Based upon the analyzed benefits of the current [red light camera] program, the City has determined that the program be continued, [and the] City desires to operate [the red light cameras] at a minimum of 15 sites."

The request for proposal adds that that "expansion plans for future years [have] not been determined at this time. With a goal to reduce violations, the City cannot currently commit or guarantee a specific number of intersections or volume of work."

In a November 2, 2011 report, Jay Goldstone, chief operating officer for lame-duck mayor Jerry Sanders, told the city council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee that the enforcement program had grossed $1,946,977 during the 12 months ending June 2011.

But after subtracting staff time and vendor payments, the cameras netted just $212,957.

The report said that the current vendor, American Traffic Solutions, Inc., receives "a flat monthly fee of $3,750 for each of the first twelve locations and $5,195 for each additional location. This totals $60,585/month or $727,020/year for the vendor."

(An earlier revenue-sharing camera ticketing program was thrown out by a judge after challenges by irate motorists.)

Added Goldstone, "Both the costs of the program and the revenues received from citations have varied throughout the life of the program. Not all the cameras were installed at the same time nor were all the cameras and detectors activated at each location at the same time."

"It is anticipated that the revenues from the program will continue to meet or exceed the costs although they will steadily decline as motorists become aware of the enforcement effort and change their driving behaviors to avoid citations."

The current contract will expire at the end of January of next year.

According to yesterday's request for proposal document--which bears a closing deadline of September 20, though such dates are often moved back--the new program is anticipated to be a “'turnkey' operation, whereby the Proposer shall provide all necessary equipment and associated software with the [red light camera] program, all staff necessary to install, operate, and maintain the program as well as providing necessary services to the City.

"The City will not take ownership of equipment and software. The successful Proposer will process each photographed incident."

The document adds that "The contract is for the period of three years from date of award with options to renew for two additional one year periods under the terms and conditions of the current contract."

  • News Ticker alerts


jd88 Aug. 22, 2012 @ 1:58 p.m.

I'll tell you first-hand that, after having gotten one of these camera tickets, it has made my driving even more dangerous. You see, the ticket was $600, which is just absolutely ludicrous. If you worked at a minimum wage job, that would take a huge financial toll on you. I can see paying $200-$250, or something like that.

Now, when I approach these intersections, I'm so freaked out about getting photographed again that I simply punch the gas if the light turns yellow. As I said, these cameras have made me a much more dangerous driver now. They need to go.


broblahder Sept. 6, 2012 @ 10:22 a.m.

ha. that's so stupid. i will laugh at you once you get another ticket. you deserve it!


Ponzi Aug. 22, 2012 @ 2:18 p.m.

This is about money, not safety. There are many bad intersections where people run red lights and where there are frequent accidents and injuries. Why don't these intersections have red light cameras? Because they don't have the massive traffic volumes that generate red light camera ticket revenue. So they are only deployed at major intersections, regardless of its accident history.

As the poster above said, the costs of the tickets are ludicrous. This is an example of the real costs of outsourcing because the city shares the cost of the ticket with a for-profit concern. Studies on the effect of red light cameras on accidents have consistently shown they contribute no improvement to safety. Many cities are removing them completely. This is a shameful reach for money by a city administration consumed by greed and played by the RLC industry and their lobbyists.


broblahder Sept. 6, 2012 @ 10:23 a.m.

in my experience they have been installed at intersections (Lincoln and Washington for example) where I've witnessed many many people run reds. You deserve the fine!


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 6, 2012 @ 10:48 a.m.

You deserve to be whipped with wet noodles...


SDHenry Aug. 22, 2012 @ 2:41 p.m.

There is a way to get rid of the cameras: Economics. Make them unprofitable for cities. How?

  1. Educate your friends about Snitch Tickets, which are fake/phishing red light camera "tickets" mailed out by California police to fool the registered owner into identifying the actual driver of the car. One city sends out about 10,000 of them annually. (In SoCal, Bakersfield, Corona, Del Mar, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, Garden Grove, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Laguna Woods, Los Alamitos, Oceanside, Poway, Riverside, Santa Ana, Santa Clarita, Solana Beach, South Gate and Vista use them.) Snitch Tickets have not been filed with the court, so they don't say "Notice to Appear," don't have the court's addr. and phone #, and usually say (on the back, in small letters), "Do not contact the court about this notice." Since they have NOT been filed with the court, they have no legal weight whatsoever. You can ignore a Snitch Ticket. If in doubt, Google the term.
  2. Also let you friends know that REAL tickets issued by cities in LA County can be ignored, because the LA County court does not report ignored tickets to the DMV. (Please also emphasize to your friends that this info applies only to tickets from cities that are in LA County.) Skeptical? Google red light camera voluntary.

If you take the time to educate your friends about these things, you may find that suddenly you are eating better. Friends will be buying you lunch after they realize that you have just saved them $500.


Ponzi Aug. 22, 2012 @ 2:55 p.m.

Every citizen accused of a crime is allowed due process, the right to face your accuser. Where is the due process with red light cameras?


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 22, 2012 @ 11:46 p.m.

I have never been to court on a red light camera violation, but I would have a FIELD day cross examining the cop or whom ever else the city sends to defend these mechanical/electrical devices. I can destroy a RADAR or LASER ticket with cops who are very well trained in their mechanics and use, a red light camera where no one knows nothing about their function, reliability or valuidity would be a dream come true for me. They are a scam, used for only 1 thing-generating money.


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 22, 2012 @ 11:48 p.m.

LOL..yes, the AZ stories are legends!!!!!


Sjtorres Aug. 22, 2012 @ 7:26 p.m.

We need more of these. And speeding cameras too. All too many people killed and injured by these unsafe morons.


ImJustABill Aug. 22, 2012 @ 9:26 p.m.

The cameras have nothing at all to do with safety. If cities wanted to reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths due to red-light runners they would target the most dangerous intersections - instead they target the most profitable interesections. Also, if the motivation was safety they could adjust the yellow-light time and delays between red and green lights in order to make things safer.


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 22, 2012 @ 11:47 p.m.

LA just pulled the plug on their red light camera scams, just wasn't worth the public relations nightmare they created.


tomjohnston Aug. 23, 2012 @ 2:45 p.m.

It wasn't only the PR. Red light tickets are unenforceable. The fines for were essentially voluntary and there were virtually no tangible consequences for anybody who refuse to pay.The cases difficult to prove and LA courts have now say that violations caught on a photo are unenforceable, since there is no live witness to testify against an alleged offender. In OC, same thing. They have rejected the admissibility of red light camera photo evidence. If Ca requires personal service for all traffic tickets, and I'm not sure, you can throw the ticket in the trash and have no worries at all. FYI surfpuppy619, it depends on the contract and the company. One of the largest companies that does this is in Arizona, Redflex Traffic Systems. It depends on the specifics of the contact but for a fee, they do take care of mailing the citations.


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 23, 2012 @ 6:11 p.m.

I don't think LA said the red light camera infractions are unenforceable, but said they were not going to contest the tickets if people challenged them, at least the remaining tickets before the closed out the program. I personally think the red light camera system is certainly in a gray area for legal support, but I don't recall seeing them being declared illegal. There are certainly many jurisdictions still pulling the scam and I would think if they were illegal under CA law they would be shut down by the courts or thru a class action. I know one thing, if you have any experience in defending traffic citations-like I have- they could be beat pretty easily I would think, but since I have never had one I have never been to court on one.


tomjohnston Aug. 23, 2012 @ 7:25 p.m.

"If you paid the fine, you paid the fine. If you didn't pay the fine, you were pretty much able to get away with it," Paul Koretz of the Los Angeles City Council told ABC News. Las year a ruling by a Los Angeles Superior court judgesaid that says red light violations -- snapped by photo -- are not enforceable because there is no live witness to testify against an alleged offender (a.k.a. driver) and no police officer is on-site to make a driver sign any promise to appear in court. The L.A. Superior Court alsodecided the court will not notify the DMV of any "pre-conviction" pertaining to unpaid camera tickets -- which would or could lead to holds placed on California driver's licenses and vehicle registration renewals. To me that pretty much says yeah, they're unenforceable. Btw, Pasadena just voted last month to shut they're cameras. LA voted on it last year


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 25, 2012 @ 9:55 p.m.

Makes sense to me, I was unaware if this.


mridolf Aug. 23, 2012 @ 6:08 a.m.

I drive a company owned pickup, which is also for my personal use. My company fleet manager received a strange ticket from some agency in Arizona that said I'd run a red light in Victorville, and had some officer's name on it. My fleet administrator insisted I pay for it, and I did (no option here). Ironic thing is, the ticket was only for $20. I was in Victorville that day, and could have easily done the right turn without fully stopping, so it was probably legit. But, $20?


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 23, 2012 @ 1:21 p.m.

Sorry, you were scammed. Red Light tickets must pay the vendor at least $100 just for them. Plus the ticket is mailed from the court-not anyone in AZ. All you had to do was to to the website of the court for that county (VV= LA County) and look your name up and see if the charge is there.


mridolf Aug. 23, 2012 @ 1:31 p.m.

I absolutely agree. If it was sent to me personally, I'd have laughed. But as I said, it was a company accountant somewhere in North Carolina that received it, and told me I had to pay it. So, being only $20, and not needing to make waves, I did. I just wonder where the people that sent the ticket got the information, as I was there In Victorville at that time. Do you think it was a camera, or photo, that was not being used by the city per se, but a private company? Anyway, just wanted to relay a really weird story. And of course, it didn't have my name on the ticket, nor did my company send my name to them. Heck, a parking ticket would have been more expensive.


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 23, 2012 @ 6:15 p.m.

No, not a private company, if it was a red light ticket it was being prosecuted thru the local municipality, VV. The cost to admin those programs, maintaining the expensive cameras, having people review the pics, sending the info to LE, having a sworn cop review the pic, sending in the paper work to the court-it is pretty extensive. Heck, just having a cop write you a speeding citation usually takes 20 minutes, so I don't see how it could be legit at $20....but who knows, i am certainly no expert on them.


jcwconsult Aug. 23, 2012 @ 8:37 a.m.

Three points. 1) IF the city of San Diego actually cared about preventing more or most red light violations, they would FIRST add one second to the yellow intervals on the lights (up to the federal maximum of 6.0 seconds). This simple safety change almost always drops the violation rates by 60% to 90%, and does so almost immediately. Ask yourselves WHY this simple and well known safety change is not used very often in cities with cameras? The an$wer$ and rea$on$ are obviou$ to mo$t ob$erver$. Using safer longer yellow intervals guts the revenue stream from the cameras and kills their real purpose which is profits. 2) ATS is the most predatory red light camera company in the business, not that Redflex and the others are laudatory in their practices. ATS is the company that threatened to sue Houston for up to $25 million when Houston voters voted the cameras out prior to the end of a contract. The city settled on a "deal" where ATS will get from $4.8 to about $12 million for the contract being ended early to respect the will of the voters.
3) Camera companies and cities often point to polls that supposedly show the public supports red light cameras. But poll questions can be crafted to get almost any results you want if the questions are worded cleverly enough. The "polls" that are meaningful are actual votes and ticket cameras have lost 96% of the real votes. In 23 of 24 votes, the citizens said NO to cameras, usually after they had experience with the predatory revenue nature of ticket cameras. San Diego voters need to loudly and repeatedly contact their council and other officials to say STOP the use of these cameras when the current contract ends. Do NOT enter into any new contracts for cameras past January. Vote OUT any officials that support the cameras or extend the contracts. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI


mridolf Aug. 23, 2012 @ 1:36 p.m.

What a great question for our mayoral candidates. "Will you get rid of red light cameras?" I know the mayor alone may not have that power, but just the opinion would change, or at least set, some people's minds. This is an issue I could get behind.


jcwconsult Aug. 23, 2012 @ 3:17 p.m.

The same question could go to council member candidates. And voters have the option to contact all these candidates to express their disfavor for having ticket cameras. Politely, but clearly, express that this is one of your make-or-break issues for your vote. Camera supporters don't get your vote. Strong anti-camera candidates who make that part of their platform do get your vote. James C. Walker, NMA


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 23, 2012 @ 6:17 p.m.

As a former East Lansing resident it is good to see some fellow Michigan resdientsposting here on the Reader!


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 23, 2012 @ 6:17 p.m.

As a former East Lansing resident it is good to see some fellow Michigan resdients posting here on the Reader!


xians421 Aug. 23, 2012 @ 2:42 p.m.

First, if the public wants to do anything subversive, all they need to do is wear a baseball cap or visor while driving. I was just in court in Vista and got nicked for $535 for a lousy red light cam ticket. Three different people got off because of WEARING BASEBALL CAPS and not being positively ID'd.

Second, and I've said this before, but Mexico actually has us beat on this one. Green lights blink twice before the light turns yellow. That way there is absolutely no excuse for running a red light.

Bring that up here along with all that NAFTA crap.


Visduh Aug. 23, 2012 @ 4:34 p.m.

If safety were the goal, they would not have those cameras at some intersections for years, while others never get the treatment. Many, many years ago there was an intersection in SD that was habitually a site for red-light running. Convoy Street at Balboa had a left turn lane from northbound Convoy to westbound Balboa and it fed the on-ramps for the 805. Long after the arrow for the left turners had switched to red, they would just keep coming across the intersection. We knew that, because the southbound cars had the green. Sometimes as many as five cars would turn across the SB lanes after their arrow was gone. Why? Well, maybe many of those drivers stacked up in that wait just didn't realize that they had lost the arrow. Or maybe they just decided that they'd waited long enough and to hell with the drivers across the way who had a green light. Whenever it happened to me, I'd pull out into the intersection, knowing I'd have to slow or stop, while laying on the horn. Some of the illegal turners would seem startled, some were indifferent, and some looked defiant. Once every couple weeks the cops would show up there at lunchtime and write a flock of tickets, but it didn't seem to stop the practice. What finally DID make a difference was widening the left turn lane to two left turn lanes, and that seemed to clear out the cars waiting to turn and prevent the red light runs.

Want to have red light cameras? Sure, but make them portable, and move them around and concentrate on the dangerous intersections. But if an intersection is inherently dangerous, or if it is plagued by red-light running, take a look at the design. Some changes could make a big difference.


Burwell Aug. 23, 2012 @ 6:37 p.m.

I don't think the rank and file officers of the SDPD like red light cameras. Off-Duty officers who receive red light tickets face suspension without pay.


Visduh Aug. 23, 2012 @ 7:25 p.m.

Wonderful. Equal justice for all. Cops should know how to drive legally. Yeah, right! So your point is?


farokhet7 Dec. 10, 2012 @ 10:38 a.m.

In my view This is pure fraud. And who ever is responsible for setting up these cameras is no different than oraganized crime. It is violation of human rights and clearly unconstitutional. THe Mayor of San Diego ought to be ashamed of himself and Judges should not even look at this cases as it violates we as the PEOPLE, for the PEOPLE by the PEOPLE have accomplished all these centuries.

You are being charged and assumed guilty and intimidated by a camera.

In this case a BIG LIGHT flashed at your face and at old age you can not see anything. Then these real criminals came any send an intimidating ticket that you did not full stop at an alleged red light. This is no different than oraganized crime forced you to pay to conduct business. They make you, intimidate you into paying a county in desperate need of cash. Shame on us as we need to write to our congress and to white house and demand justice. Other countries had revolutions for these kinds of injustices.

Shame on San Diego, Shame on San Diego lae enforcement that let a camera do their job by intimidation. DO NOT RE ELECT the MAYOR of San Diego. This is nothing but organized crime in my view. No justice at all. If you let them get away with this they will pretty soon watch you with a camera in your bedroom.


Sign in to comment