Only On 7: Millbrae sees spike in red light tickets

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ByVic Lee KGO logo
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Only On 7: Millbrae sees spike in red light tickets
ABC7 News investigates the sudden and mysterious spike in the number of traffic tickets generated by red light cameras in Millbrae.

MILLBRAE, Calif. (KGO) -- On the peninsula, drivers are concerned about a mysterious spike in the number of tickets generated by red light cameras in the city of Millbrae. ABC7 News learned about it and went to the city and the sheriff's office to find out what was going on.

While we staked out the intersection of Rollins Road and Millbrae Avenue, two cars ran red lights but there were no light flashes indicating the cameras had caught the violators. The red light camera did flash however, when a bicyclist entered the intersection.

Rollins Road is one of three intersections where Millbrae's cameras are located. The two others are at Millbrae Avenue and the Highway 101 off ramp and Millbrae Avenue and El Camino Real. is a blog that monitors red light cameras all over California. Last week, its editor emailed the Millbrae City Council, saying there was a huge spike in its red light camera ticketing.

According to the blog, in April, the cameras generated 669 tickets. In May, there was a whopping jump of 1,525 tickets. That's 856 tickets more than the previous month. In fact, more than double the number.

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, which has a contract for policing Millbrae, says it's looking into the ticketing spike.

Angela Louis is the Millbrae city spokesperson. She told ABC7 News, "Thank you for bringing this to our attention."

She says since our inquiry, they've found that the camera at Millbrae Avenue and the 101 off ramp may be the culprit. It was struck and damaged by a construction truck in April and taken down for three weeks.

"At this time we are looking into seeing if the new camera that was placed there might be more sensitive or if there's something different with that camera," said Louis.

Ellen Mendelson is an attorney whose cases include red light camera tickets. She says the new camera may have shortened the yellow light. She said, "It's not foolproof. It's a machine and machines are not foolproof. It's supposed to be one second per each 10 miles an hour. If they change that period, somebody going through a yellow would have a shorter time before the light flashed and they would be caught."

And that would be a violation of California and federal law.

Whatever the cause, the city is investigating. We'll keep following this story.