Red Light Cameras Proving To Be Safe, Profitable For City

$213K Made From Camera Citations During Fiscal Year 2011

City officials say red light photo enforcement will remain in San Diego for the foreseeable future after proving to be profitable and useful for road safety.

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San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who heads up the subcommittee reviewing the red light camera program, said she was pleased at both the safety and profitability statistics.

"We had a 50 percent reduction in red light-related accidents and an 11 percent reduction in rear-end collisions," said Emerald.

The 15 locations around San Diego have yielded 15,000 citations per year -- meaning extra money for the city coffers. The profit during fiscal year 2011 was $213,000.

City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, however, has two concerns: legal and financial stability. She wonders if that profit may be erased if someone successfully sues the city.

Attorney Mitchell Mehdy, who calls himself "Mr. Ticket," worries about greed.

"Once the city gets a taste of $200,000, they're going to want $400,000 next year and $600,000 the year after. They should decrease the price of these citations. The minimum mandatory fine is $480. The minimum traffic school fee $532. Knock a hundred bucks off or two hundred bucks off," said Mehdy.

Bicyclist Allyson Long, who often crosses the intersection of North Harbor Drive at Grape Street, told 10News, "They're in place for a reason. Safety is very important and people take that for granted until it's too late."

"You cross here. Have you had any close calls?" asked 10News reporter Steve Fiorina.

"Of course; people don't take into account pedestrians and go really fast," said Long.

The red light program is about to enter the last year of a five-year contract. A review is under way, and Emerald said she'd like to do a survey to determine if other intersections should add the cameras.

Red light cameras are set up at the following streets (listing as of Oct. 2011):

  • A Street/10th Avenue
  • Garnet Avenue/Mission Bay Drive
  • Grape Street/ N. Harbor Drive
  • Aero Drive/Murphy Canyon Road
  • Del Mar Heights Road/El Camino Real
  • Mira Mesa Boulevard/Scranton Road
  • Camino Del Rio North/Mission Center Road
  • 10th Avenue/F Street
  • Clairemont Mesa Boulevard/Convoy Street
  • Balboa Avenue/Kearny Villa Road
  • Camino Del Rio North/Qualcomm Way
  • Cleveland Avenue/Washington Street
  • Mira Mesa Boulevard/Westview Parkway
  • Nimitz Boulevard/Rosecrans Street
  • Genesee Avenue/N. Torrey Pines Road
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