While Chicago works to establish itself as the camera-enforcement capital of the United States, with electric eyes writing tickets at 190 intersections, and speed cameras set to start clicking this year, another city, San Diego, has scrapped red light cameras altogether. The city’s mayor says they discourage tourists from visiting, and create “disrespect for the law.”
San Diego on Friday became the latest in a cadre of California cities turning their backs on red-light cameras — aloof intersection sentries that have prompted $490 tickets to be mailed to 20,000 motorists per year here.
“Seems to me that such a program can only be justified if there are demonstrable facts that prove that they raise the safety awareness and decrease accidents in our city,” [Mayor Bob] Filner said of the cameras. “The data, in fact, does not really prove it.”
Bicycle and pedestrian groups immediately raised safety concerns about the end of the program. Still, Filner called it the San Diego version of a traffic trap, and said he would rather have the four officers who were reviewing the camera’s photos back on the streets interacting directly with motorists.
“It just seemed to me that the hostility toward them (the cameras) bred more disrespect for the law than respect for the law,” Filner said, adding that many members of the public felt the program was only about making the city money.
Filner said … the camera program needed to go because many of its tickets went to tourists .
“Here’s the welcome that we give to San Diego,” Filner said. “Here’s a $500 fine. I don’t think that’s the way to tell visitors, ‘thank you for coming to San Diego.’”
Just in California, Los Angeles, San Juan Capistrano, Pasadena, Grand Terrace, Bell Gardens, Corona and Glendale have eliminated their speed cameras.
Meanwhile, here at home, Chatham resident Stephen Hinton is trying to get Mayor Rahm Emanuel to follow Mayor Filner’s example, with an online petition to end the city’s speed camera program.
"It's just an added tax — this is another way to generate revenue," Hinton told DNA Info
. "What was it? $61 million in 2010? It's unreal for them to present it as a safety measure and reap the benefits of that revenue."
Hinton is trying to collect 10,000 signatures to present to City Hall. He’ll also have evidence that cities more progressive than Chicago have given up on the program.