The West Hollywood City Council will take up on Monday a controversial proposal to ticket drivers who make right turns at red lights without stopping if they exceed certain speeds.
The ticketing would be implemented by using a newly installed red-light camera system, which captures the license plate numbers of cars that run red lights. The city’s previous system could only effectively capture those running red lights across intersections, not those making right turns on red. Those turns are legal, but only if a driver comes to a full stop to ensure no one else is entering the intersection.
The controversy over the proposed ticketing process stems in part from the cost of those tickets. While the actual fine for running a red light is $100, the state legislature over the years has tacked on numerous fee to support a variety of projects including maintaining courthouses and a DNA registry. Those fees boost the actual cost of a ticket to $490.
In a forum on WEHOville about the proposal, more than a dozen residents objected to it, calling it everything from a “small town speed trap” to the wrong solution for what some acknowledge is a problem that could be resolved with longer yellow light signals.
In a report to the City Council, city staff members note that “both the cities of Beverly Hills and Culver City operate Red Light Photo Enforcement Programs which include enforcement of right turn on red violations. These cities have both issued citations for non-stopping right turn violations for approximately 18 years, since the original commencement of their Red Light Photo Enforcement Programs. Enforcement of right turn on red violations is supported by the Superior Court judges assigned to preside over West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Culver City’s Red Light Photo Enforcement cases.
The report notes that during a 30-day period after installation of the new red light cameras, “the Sheriff’s Department identified safety concerns with 250 incidents where the cameras documented motorists making non-stopping right turns on red. Of these incidents, approximately 100 involved non-stopping right turns on red at speeds at or over 15 miles per hour. Approximately 150 involved public safety issues related to non-stopping right turns on red with vehicle speeds in the range between 10 and 15 miles per hour.”
The new red light system now is active at eight intersections:
— La Brea at Fountain (northbound)
— La Brea at Fountain (southbound)
— Beverly at Robertson (eastbound)
— Beverly at Robertson (westbound)
— La Brea at Santa Monica (eastbound)
— La Brea at Santa Monica (northbound)
— La Cienega at Melrose (northbound)
— La Cienega at Melrose (southbound)
The City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., south of Santa Monica. Parking, free with a validated ticket, is available in the five-story structure behind the Council Chambers.