News

Simitian's red-light-camera bill vetoed

Legislator's proposal sought to create new restrictions on cameras, added protection for drivers

A proposal by Sen. Joe Simitian to set new restrictions on red-light cameras hit the wall Thursday (Oct. 6) when Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it.

Senate Bill 29 would have prohibited cities from using red-light cameras to raise revenues and required signs at all locations where such cameras are in use. It also sought to make it easier for ticketed drivers to challenge the citations. The bill had passed unanimously in the Senate and cleared the Assembly by a 70-4 vote before Brown vetoed it.

In his veto message, Brown wrote that the bill "standardizes rules for local governments to follow when installing and maintaining red light cameras."

"This is something that can and should be overseen by local elected officials," Brown wrote.

But Simitian, D-Palo Alto, called the veto a "lost opportunity to help restore public trust in the purpose and operation of red-light cameras by bringing accountability and fairness to the process."

"I think we can keep folks safe and still give the driving public a fair shake," Simitian said in a statement. "I'm sorry the Governor didn't agree."

The proposal to strengthen state regulations on red-light cameras emerged from Simitian's annual "There Outghta Be a Law" competition. San Jose resident Vera Gil had proposed the bill after receiving several tickets from red-light cameras for a car she said she does not own and had never driven.

Simitian said in a statement that he hears similar complaints from other constituents.

"Discussion of the legislation over the past two years confirmed my initial suspicion that Ms. Gil's case was just the tip of the iceberg," Simitian said.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Michael
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 10, 2011 at 9:11 am

CA legislative rules: OVERRIDES. A vetoed bill is returned to the house of origin, where a vote may be taken to override the governor's veto; a two-thirds vote of both houses is required to override a veto.

It sounds like Brown would be soundly overridden here, but the legislature is not in session. Does the bill die now or can they vote to override next session?


Like this comment
Posted by Henry
a resident of another community
on Oct 10, 2011 at 10:43 am

Brown vetoed Simitian's bill - good! It claimed to be red light camera reform, but actually would have made it worse for drivers. For example, it would have decreased the number of warning signs at camera enforced intersections.

But not all is good. Brown signed Mike Gatto's AB 529, which will allow cities to reduce posted speeds by 5 mph, even on streets with a great safety record. The lower posted speeds will allow cities to shorten yellows, which will increase red light cam ticketing by at least 50%. (Four of the sponsoring cities have red light cams.) Worse, the shortening will increase severe accidents by 30 to 40%. (Source: "Development of Guidelines for Treating Red-Light Running," Texas Transp. Inst. pg 2-20.)

The lower speed limits also will make it easier for California cities to issue speeding tickets - and is groundwork for future legislation legalizing speed cameras (photo radar, like they have in Arizona).

Mr. Gatto is very proud of his legislation. It is only fitting that the new speed traps should be called Gatto Traps, with the new shorter yellows called Gatto Yellows.



Like this comment
Posted by Andrew
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 10, 2011 at 10:44 am

Go Jerry...almost hit by a red light runner earlier today, then saw 6 others in a 2 mile stretch of El Camino. The injustice is dramatically slanted towards victims of red light runners and violateers should be curtailed with any reasonable means possible.


Like this comment
Posted by It's=Time-For-Joe-To-Go!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Simitian has been in office too long. He no longer thinks things through, but acts like he were "King Joe", and "the peasants need to do what I think is right."

The only problem with Brown's logic is that it essential endorses local speed traps, and makes driving in dense urban areas more difficult because every 5-10 miles you have to worry about speed limits changing, and timing on traffic lights changing.

There were be nothing wrong with state-wide traffic laws .. particularly if those laws were "Simitian Free".


Like this comment
Posted by Safety1st
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm

The KEY THING is Safety!!!! Be careful at intersections, by drivers and pedestrians. Folks really don't need to go so fast. Plan your day so you don't go wildly driving. It could be your family member or friend that could be hit or killed! or even a pet.


Like this comment
Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm

The safety claims for red-light cameras are overblown.


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Posted by gmcgilvray
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm

There is no speed enforcement in the 2500 block of Middlefield, even though it is zoned R1 on both sides of the street. People routinely drive 35 to 50 mph, and run red lights.


Like this comment
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of University South
on Oct 10, 2011 at 6:32 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

Ditto what Andrew, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, wrote:

Go Jerry...almost hit by a red light runner earlier today, then saw 6 others in a 2 mile stretch of El Camino. The injustice is dramatically slanted towards victims of red light runners and violateers should be curtailed with any reasonable means possible.

I wrote Jerry to veto the bill for exactly what Andrew and others wrote: SAFETY MUST COME FIRST - and these cameras, notwithstanding the problems that are associated with them, including the one in particular that prompted the "It oughta be a law" bill, are not sufficient to over-ride the benefits they convey. (The origin of the bill was a constituent who was ticketed by the camera in southern California - yet she wasn't even there). Now imagine if that same person had been hit by a motorist who ran a red light! What would be worse?

However, this veto doesn't make up for the two traffic safety bills that Jerry vetoed: One was by Simitian that increased texting/phoning fines, and the other:
CA Gov. Jerry Brown Vetoes Bike-Passing Safety Law
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by James Hoosac
a resident of another community
on Oct 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm

This year the Assembly has produced 1433 bills (AB1 - AB1433), and the Senate has produced 948 bills (SB1 - SB948). It is insane!

Are we the citizens and our governments so dumb that we need that many bills per year to micro-manage our state affairs? In comparison Texas has less than 200 bills per year. Florida has about 250 bills per year.

Remember this is every year, year after year! Our elected state officials are wasting our tax dollars big time.

Web Link

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Henry
a resident of another community
on Oct 11, 2011 at 7:35 am

I want to give another example of the thorough job lobbyists did of stripping Simitian's bill of anything benefiting motorists.

It contained, up til Aug. 26, a passage requiring, on the fake tickets many cities mail out, a clear and prominent statement that there is no penalty for failure to respond. (These fake tickets, also called Snitch Tickets, are made to look like real tickets, and are mailed to registered vehicle owners to trick them into disclosing the identity of the driver in a red light camera photograph.)

That passage was a problem - the many cities profiting from the use of the Snitch Tickets didn't want their trickery to be exposed, and used their lobbying power to get the bill suspended, held up in a committee. It wasn't gonna pass. Simitian had a tough choice to make - remove the requirement for the statement saying there's no penalty for failure to respond, or watch the bill die in committee. He desperately wanted the bill to pass - it would be a notch on his gun - so he allowed the bill to be stripped. Let us give Gov. Brown credit for recognizing a piece of stripped-out junk pretending to be "reform," and putting a stop to it.

Let us also phone our Sacramento legislators and let them know that we don't want them to override Brown's veto.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe Donnellan
a resident of another community
on Oct 11, 2011 at 8:34 am

This is indeed a lost opportunity. Privatized traffic law enforcement systems may or may not be a useful tool in keeping drivers and pedestrians safe. But when private firms and municipalities consider profits first, and safety second, the public interest is threatened. Before pursuing a camera system contract, local governments should heed the advice (Web Link ) of the Federal Highway Administration and first investigate traffic engineering solutions for problem intersections or roadways. If officials decide that private enforcement systems are appropriate, they should avoid deals that constrain decisions about protecting safety. Privatized traffic law enforcement should be used solely as a tool for enhancing traffic safety – not as a cash cow for municipalities or private firms.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group will be releasing a report on this subject on October 27. Once it is released, it will be available at www.uspirg.org/trafficcamreport.

- Joe Donnellan for U.S. PIRG


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:27 am

If you drive OK you have nothing to fear from a redlight camera. I have never had a problem or gotten a ticket from one and I think it's fine to do this considering how badly people seem to be driving these days.

Recall please that a girl was killed over in Atherton while running a few weeks ago obviously by someone who was not paying attention.

We've got to do something about drivers who are idiots, and finding them by camera seems reasonable to me.


Like this comment
Posted by CrunchyCookie
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:31 am

CrunchyCookie is a registered user.

Another bad move from Brown that's counter to the people's best interest.

In addition to being about revenue under the facade of safety, red light cameras have been shown to not really reduce accidents at all since they cause a marked increase in rear-end crashes from drivers suddenly slamming on the brakes.


Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:51 am

Red light cameras may not reduce the number of crashes, but they save lives because they reduce the number of "T-bone" crashes, which are much deadlier than rear-end crashes.


Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm

This is hilarious CrunchyCookie:
"In addition to being about revenue under the facade of safety, red light cameras have been shown to not really reduce accidents at all since they cause a marked increase in rear-end crashes from drivers suddenly slamming on the brakes."

My response would be 'GOOD...serves em both right'...a distracted tailgater and a speeder... sounds like a 'two-fer' deal.


Like this comment
Posted by Chuck
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 20, 2012 at 10:32 am

Why not install timers at the intersections with traffic lights??

I would say most people do not run through red lights intentionally, but there's always at times a split of second when light turns yellow that it happens it'll be too late to stop before the light and the speed is not fast enough to beat the light.

With installing timers, drivers would know exactly how much time is left before the light is turning.

In China I remembered seeing oversize timers counting down conspicuously at many intersections in big cities. I can almost guarantee it would reduce accidents and red light violation. It would be a good idea to install timer along with traffic camera on busy intersections, and if people still get caught with violating the red light and are ticketed in these intersections, they really deserve it.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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