Red-light cameras installed at 32 intersections in Los Angeles will be removed after July 31, the City Council decided Wednesday.
The council decided to let the city’s contract with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, the company that runs the red-light camera program, end as scheduled at the end of July. The program cost the city $2.5 million a year to run.
Earlier this week, two City Council committees, the Audits and Governmental Efficiency Committee and the Budget and Finance Committee, after reports revealed that the Los Angeles Superior Court was not actively enforcing citations and that the city was losing money on the program.
The decision backs the Police Commission’s June 7 vote to end the program. An audit concluded that the cameras did not improve safety, and approximately two-thirds of the tickets generated were for rolling right turns.
"I think the state has failed us,” said City Council President Eric Garcetti. "Today, it is time for us to shut it down, and shut it down now.”
Councilman Mitchell Englander, who was not yet in office when the council first took up the issue, agreed with Garcetti. However, pursuant to a motion he presented in committee meetings Monday and Tuesday, he proposed a "phase out" to remove the camera infrastructure installed by the Department of Transportation and collect the money on 65,000 outstanding citations.
Englander said Los Angeles is the only city in the country that paid for the installation of the program, which cost $1.5 million. He also emphasized that there are consequences for failure to pay the $480 citation, despite reports from Los Angeles Police Department officials that it was a voluntary pay program.
"It’s not truly voluntary, and there are consequences," Englander said. “You could lose your job, depending on where you work.”
Councilman Paul Koretz said he does not recommend that residents don’t pay their citations, despite the difficulty of enforcing collection.
"The problem is the city doesn’t have a lot of the collection mechanisms, so we lose a lot of money,” Koretz said. "The point isn’t, though, don’t pay your tickets.”
The council unanimously voted 13–0 to end the program, but there were a few council members who voiced their support of keeping the technology, saying that it improved public safety.
"There’s no dollar you can put on saving a life," said Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who last month voted in support of extending the contract.
Councilman Tom LaBonge said he did not want to throw the existing technology away, while Councilman Richard Alarcon said the city should be open to a red-light camera program in the future.
City officials will work on negotiating a phase out of the program to clean up the backlog of citations and remove the existing infrastructure. The Department of Transportation is requesting $155,000 for the removal of poles and equipment at the intersections where the cameras are installed.