OCEANSIDE — City Council voted on Oct. 1 to remove its four red light cameras that have caused drivers stress and rear end collisions.
“I slam on the brakes because I’m afraid a yellow light will turn red,” Oceanside resident Donna McGinty said. “I’m sure tourists who come here don’t appreciate them either.”
The goal of the red light cameras was to decrease T-bone collisions that occur when drivers run through red lights and cause side impacts to oncoming cars.
Residents at the meeting said the cameras ticket right hand turns, and cause rear end collisions due to drivers’ sudden yellow light stops.
Police Chief Frank McCoy did not have data on the types of accidents that occurred at the camera-ed intersections, but said accidents have decreased along with a decrease in accidents citywide.
He added red light camera tickets mean drivers are running red lights.
Half a dozen residents spoke up against the cameras saying tickets are automatically given for minor infractions without the opportunity to speak with a police officer on the spot.
Oceanside resident Erica Leary said she was ticketed with a $571 fine for being in a red light intersection for 1/100 of a second.
“I’m a victim of the red light camera program,” Leary said. “I felt like it was rigged to catch people.”
This is not the first time residents have protested the cameras that were installed by Redflex Traffic Systems in 2004 and 2010.
The City Council discussed removing the cameras in February for the same reasons that were heard that night.
The debate eight months ago and at that night’s meeting is whether it is worth the cost to terminate the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems early.
In February the cost of ending the contract before March 2015 was $48,000.
That night the City Council approved terminating the extended March 2016 contract at a cost of $19,200.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez has steadily opposed the cameras, but along with Mayor Jim Wood, did not vote to remove them that night.
She said it would be better at this point to let the contract run out it’s remaining 18 months, and put the $19,200 towards city programs.
“The more responsible thing is to let it expire,” Sanchez said. “I don’t think a few months is going to change a lot.”
Councilmen Gary Felien and Jerry Kern were outspoken about terminating the contract immediately at the lower buy out cost. Felien reasoned the present cost to the city was minimal compared to the impact on drivers’ budgets.
Following the vote McCoy stressed camera ticketing will continue to be in effect until the cameras are removed.
City Manager Steve Jepsen said it would take about two months to conclude business with Redflex Traffic Systems and end red light camera enforcement.