San Juan Capistrano Removing Cameras

The San Juan Capistrano City Council voted unanimously Wednesday not to renew the city's $232,000 annual contract with American Traffic Solutions. Since the cameras' installation in 2001, traffic tickets through the program have generated as much as $400,000 in revenue over expenses for the city. The tickets carry fines of about $500 each. The city was facing declining revenue and souring negative public opinion.

The decline in citations and a growing number of legal challenges have cut revenue by more than half within a year, officials say. The red-light program is projected to lose about $40,000 this year. Red-light camera citations will cease after Sept. 29. The city will extend its contract with American Traffic Solutions through December to finish processing tickets already in the system.

The cameras photograph the car and the driver, and tickets are issued by mail based on the vehicle's license and registration information. But an appellate court decision has made it more difficult for cities to defend automated citations, causing some to reevaluate their use of the cameras. An appellate panel of Orange County Superior Court judges ruled in 2010 in the appeal of a red-light ticket that photos and video submitted by police were inadmissible as evidence. The panel said the photos and video were hearsay because no officer actually saw the driver run the red light.

The Laguna Woods City Council will consider terminating its red-light camera program at its Wednesday meeting as well.  Read the full article