West Hollywood will begin ticketing drivers at four intersections who are captured on camera turning right on red without stopping, but only if those turns are judged by the Sheriff’s Department to risk danger to a pedestrian or other driver.
The City Council voted last night to approve such tickets and to review the situation in 90 days. The vote was four to one, with Councilmember John D’Amico opposing the measure.
In a 30-day survey, the local Sheriff’s Station identified 250 incidents at the four intersections in which motorists made right turns on red without stopping, about 100 of which involved vehicles driving at or over 15 miles an hour. According to Deputy Trent Miles there are an average of two collisions a year at all of West Hollywood’s intersections involving vehicles that turn right at red lights without first stopping.
The intersections were the red light cameras are installed are La Brea Avenue at Fountain Avenue (northbound and southbound), Beverly Boulevard at Robertson Boulevard (eastbound and westbound), La Brea at Santa Monica Boulevard (eastbound and northbound) and La Cienega Boulevard at Melrose Avenue (northbound and southbound).
D’Amico said he is concerned about the amount of the fines associated with the red light tickets.
“I’m not advocating that people run a red light,” D’Amico said. “I’m just concerned that the cost of these tickets is not consistent with our values … People come to our city to work, and they work $12 to $15 an hour jobs, and this is a lot of money for them.”
The actual penalty for turning right at a red light without stopping is $100. However the state legislature has tacked on numerous other fees to fund things such as courthouse repairs and DNA testing, boosting the payment to $490.
Sharon Perlstein, the city’s engineer, said the city receives $100 to $140 from each ticket. While the tickets do generate revenues for the state and the county, Perlstein said they aren’t money makers for the city. The cost to the city of the red light camera system is almost half a million dollars a year, she said.
The City Council’s decision was in response to a proposal by the city’s Department of Public Works and the Sheriff’s Station to use the cameras to ticket those making right turns on red at or over 15 miles per hour and those driving 10 miles an hour whose turns were deemed to be particularly dangerous. The city installed a new red light camera earlier this year that can identify cars making right turns on red. The old system could only allow identification of those driving straight through an intersection.
Councilmember Lauren Meister suggested the council ask the city’s Transportation and Public Safety commissions to study busy intersections to see if a “no right turn on red” sign would address some of the safety concerns. Councilmember Lindsey Horvath said she had reservations about the Department of Public Works proposal. However Horvath, noting that she recently was hit by a car making an illegal turn on Sunset Boulevard, said she could support ticketing drivers who make right turns on red while a pedestrian is in a crosswalk.
Councilmember John Duran and Mayor John Heilman voiced their support for the original proposal.
I agree with an earlier comment: You can and should ignore these citations. It cracks me up that certain cities, including West Hollywood & Beverly Hills, are so zealous about these red light cameras ….because they are legally ineffective. Two critical things to remember: 1. You have made no promise to appear. The reason you must address a ticket given to you by an office is because the officer (who observes the infraction) makes you sign the ticket. Your signature does not mean you admit guilt, but it means you promise to take care of this one way or another… Read more »
I have mixed feelings about this proposal. As a legally blind person who uses a guide dog to travel around the city, I often cross through some of the mentioned intersections. The pressure drivers place on getting passed these bottlenecks often leads to road rage which contributes to the problem of people not stopping when they make a right turn on a red light. The practice places me and my dog in constant jeopardy. From that stand point I’m for the idea. Where my mixed feelings come in is that I don’t believe photo camera traffic violation traps work. I… Read more »
I think in terms of the millions who pass through this City annually, this is not a good idea. There should be a very long lead in to this with signs that are bright enough and large enough to catch the driver’s attention. It is a very unfriendly, even hostile, move without a lot of advance notice.
Just remember that these camera tickets can be ignored, as can the camera tickets from Beverly Hills, Culver City, Hawthorne, Montebello, Covina, Lynwood and the tickets from the cameras located near the Metro rail and busway lines. Skeptical? Google red light camera ticket no consequence and read the hits on LA Times, NBC, NPR and LA Weekly articles. (Important note: The ability to ignore applies only to red light camera tickets, only to those in LA County, and only if you have not yet contacted the court about your ticket.)
2 collisions a year? That warrants this kind of action from City Hall?
It just doesn’t make sense. If we take at face value Ms. Perlstein’s assertion that the city doesn’t make money on these cameras, with the take on each ticket of “only” about $100 but with a $500,000 annual cost for the cameras, what public safety service does this serve? The sheriffs have identified an average of 2 accidents per year at ALL intersections in West Hollywood that are caused by not stopping first at a red light before turning. How does all this really make a difference for public safety? It doesn’t add up.