Camera profits may be curbed 

Red-light cameras would be banned from being used to generate money for cities under a bill moving through the state Legislature.

San Francisco collected more than $1.8 million from motorists captured on red-light cameras last fiscal year, but such revenue generation could be limited.

If the legislation is adopted, San Francisco and cities in San Mateo County would be forced to prove that an intersection is dangerous before installing a camera there. Cities would be forbidden from considering the potential profitability of a red-light camera when deciding whether to proceed with a proposed installation.

“My strongly held view is that tickets should never be issued to raise revenue,” said Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, author of Assembly Bill 1362. “They should only be issued for public safety purposes.”

It’s unlikely that existing cameras would be affected, but details are unclear because of ongoing negotiations between legislation sponsors and opponents.

In addition, the legislation would force cities to streamline processes for correcting fines that are mistakenly issued to the wrong motorist.

“I’m not opposed to the use of red-light cameras per se, but I do think they raise important issues of accuracy, privacy and due process,” Simitian said.

The bill sailed through the Senate but ran into obstacles in the Assembly.

It was approved by an Assembly transportation committee this week after being amended to help allay concerns from the League of California Cities and others.

The league objected to a number of elements in the bill, including provisions designed to eliminate so-called snitch tickets. Some cities refuse to retract fines issued to a registered-vehicle owner who was not driving at the time of a red-light
violation unless the owner snitches and provides the name of the driver.

That practice would end under the legislation, but the league wants to prevent motorists who are caught on camera running a red light from avoiding tickets by simply denying being the driver.

It’s giving red-light runners a loophole to just throw away the ticket and ignore it,” league Legislative Analyst Dorothy Holzem said.

Red-light cameras

San Francisco: 46
San Mateo: 3
Millbrae: 3
Belmont: 2
Redwood City: 2
South San Francisco: 2

Source: Respective cities

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