Murrieta Ballot Measure Could Remove Red Light Cameras

The Californian town of Murrieta is the latest to take a serious stand against red-light cameras, as campaigners fighting for their removal win a landmark victory. The District Court of Appeal issued a ruling that will allow the initiative to scrap of the cameras to move forward. This was in response to a previous court ruling that affirmed that the cameras were acting within the law.

This move will ultimately mean that the city of Murrieta and the Riverside County registrar of voters can proceed to include the initiative on the November 6 ballot. Authorities will then vote either way on the removal initiative to come to a final decision.


This is a huge step forward for opponents of the red light cameras, both in Murrieta and beyond. For Murrieta, it indicates a strong possibility that residents will see an end to these over-zealous and ineffective cameras. For those living in other cities, it is encouraging to learn that gradually, city by city, motorists are starting to take a stand against being used as cash cows.

Residents and authorities alike have been strongly opposed to the town's red-light cameras since their installation, claiming that they are actually operating illegally; it has long been claimed that the cameras have been fining drivers who are not actually breaking any laws, issuing them with steep fines purely to boost revenue. In fact, Murrieta has been one of the most vocal voices against red-light cameras, taking an immediate stand against the cameras upon their installation, and launching numerous campaigns to have them removed.

Opposition to removal

Of course, the inclusion of the initiative in the November ballot does not guarantee success for those against the cameras. There are several key people within the city's council that are in favor of the city's red-light camera system; Steve Flynn, who was a prosecutor in the original court case against those seeking to remove the cameras, will be taking part in the vote. His viewpoint echos the sentiment of the Riverside Superior Court Judge, Daniel Ottolia, who originally ruled to stop the anti-camera initiative, in that it is not up to residents to make decisions on road safety: "The court finds that traffic regulation is a matter of statewide concern," Ottolia had said. "The Legislature has specifically delegated the authorization of automated traffic enforcement systems to city councils (or county boards of supervisors) and such delegation precludes the municipal electorate from using the initiative and referendum process to authorize or prohibit red light cameras."

Another expense for motorists 

The over-turning of Ottolia's verdict should set an example to those living in other cities, whose lives are affected by these red-light cameras. The ruling is a victory for fairness during a time when so many people are feeling the effects of dwindling incomes and higher household bills. For motorists, owning a vehicle has never been so expensive. Even though those owning vehicles are now more inclined to shop around for the cheapest motorcycle insurance or car insurance, this doesn't ease the growing costs of fuel and taxes. Extra unfair fines just add to this woe.

Supreme Court Likelihood 

The Murrieta case is expected to be argued before the California Supreme Court, whatever the outcome, according to Peter Lepiscopo, who is representing the proponents of the anti-camera initiative. His clients, Murrieta residents, Diana Serafin, and Robin Nielson, have been gathering signatures from thousands of their fellow citizens, all in favor of scrapping the unpopular cameras. The petition has been growing since last November, when there was a public consultation on whether or not Murrieta should become the latest town to install the controversial red-light cameras.

Murrieta currently has four cameras installed in busy city intersections: one at Clinton Keith Road and Nutmeg Street, two at Murrieta Hot Springs Road and Whitewood Avenue, and one at Murrieta Hot Springs Road at Margarita Road. Although some agree that the cameras have reduced the number of red-light violations, the overwhelming public sentiment is that they are also penalizing those driving within the rules.

The citizens of the town of Murrieta, along with the rest of the country, will have to wait and see what the outcome of this case will be. If the residents win, it will surely pave the way for other cities to feel that they too can take a stand against red-light cameras.