Chicago City Council

Speed Camera Showdown Looms as City Council, Lightfoot Remain At-Odds

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The Chicago City Council will consider a measure Wednesday that would change the threshold that would trigger a ticket from speed cameras in the city, a move that has drawn strong condemnation and criticism from Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

That ordinance, which allowed drivers to be assessed a $35 ticket if they were driving between 6-to-9 mph over the limit, took a step toward being repealed on Tuesday thanks to a 16-15 vote by the city's Finance Committee.

“The majority of that money is off the backs who can least afford it in the Black and Brown communities,” 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale.

The new ordinance will eliminate the $35 ticket for going between 6-to-9 miles per hour over the speed limit, and will instead only feature a $100 ticket for going 10 mph or more over the limit.

Lightfoot, who spoke out harshly against the measure on Tuesday, blasted lawmakers who voted in favor of repealing the ordinance.

“The City Council Committee on Finance voted to sanction higher speeds around schools and parks when it seems that every day that there is another traffic fatality because of speeding and reckless driving,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “It is simply unconscionable that, after losing 173 Chicagoans to speed-related traffic fatalities in 2021, some Aldermen are acting with so little regard for public safety.”

Lightfoot said that the fines generated by the cameras help pay for infrastructure, after-school programming and other budget items.

Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza says that there is a camera in her ward on Indianapolis Boulevard that has raised thousands of dollars alone.

“That one camera generates over a million dollars a year and it’s not going down,” she said. “If it was changing people’s driving habits, we would see that revenue go down.”

Still, there was plenty of opposition to the move,, including from 38th Ward Ald. Nicolas Sposato.

“I’m very passionate about this, and I’m very concerned about the safety of kids in my community,” he said.

According to data from Block Club Chicago, Chicago speed cameras issued 2.3 million tickets in the first 10 months of 2021 after the change was made, nearly as many as they had issued in the previous three years combined.

The measure will go up for a full vote from the Chicago City Council on Wednesday.

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