Red light camera debate expands to 4th Bay Area city

The debate over the effectiveness of red light cameras on safety is now heading to a fourth Bay Area city.
March 11, 2014 8:37:56 PM PDT
The debate over the effectiveness of red light cameras on safety is now heading to a fourth Bay Area city.

San Rafael is canceling its contract for red light cameras, saying they didn't have much of an effect on reducing accidents. Hayward and Belmont are also canceling their red light cameras. And Wednesday night, South San Francisco may do the same.

If there is one place in South San Francisco where people do not want their pictures taken, it's at an intersection with red light cameras.

"A $450 fine and all she did is go over the little white line," said Natalie Carrillo who Opposes the cameras.

"These people drive too fast on this boulevard. They really do, I think they exceed the speed limit. Sometimes by 10 to 15 miles an hour," said Rodney Gomez who supports the cameras.

It's been five years since South San Francisco installed the cameras. Wednesday night, the city council will look at whether to keep them.

"There are two new people on the city council, so hope springs eternal," said Councilman Mark Addiego.

Addiego voted against the cameras five years ago, and says he's cautious now.

"Some people, more cynical than myself, have said that these are cash registers on poles for the city. That's not exactly true. Very little of the net proceeds end up as a positive for the city," said Addiego.

The cameras generated roughly $200,000 for South San Francisco last year, a pittance compared with the city's $70 million budget.

South San Francisco Police Chief Michael Massoni argues that they have made these intersections safer because the number of collisions has remained stable.

"Traffic is always increasing. So, in the five years we've had these programs here, if the numbers stay the same, we can't prove a negative, but I believe there's a possibility that accidents have been reduced," said Massoni.

And, he argues, the red light cameras change behavior; at least among locals. Only 2-percent of violators receive a second citation.

The countdown to Wednesday's debate begins.