News

Menlo Park votes to keep red-light cameras

City will add fifth camera at Chilco and Bayfront

Breaking away from a trend of cities canceling red-light camera programs, the Menlo Park City Council decided on Tuesday (Aug. 27) to renew the town's contract and add a fifth red-light camera.

The vote was 4-1, with Catherine Carlton dissenting. The five-year contract will allow Menlo Park to keep its current four cameras -- mounted at Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road, and the intersections of El Camino Real with Glenwood Avenue and Ravenswood Avenue -- and add a a fifth at the intersection of Bayfront Expressway and Chilco Street.

Councilwoman Kirsten Keith said that for her, it was about safety. Red-light cameras correlate to a 13 to 29 percent reduction in all types of injuries, she said.

Council members had questioned why Menlo Park should pay more than other California cities that contract with Redflex. Staff said that jurisdictions that had been clients of Redflex for a longer period of time or had less stringent installation requirements were charged less.

However, the vendor did reduce the monthly fee for existing cameras from $5,397 to $4,950. The new camera will cost $6,200 a month.

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Councilwoman Carlton said that she wasn't convinced the cameras were worth it. Her research showed that the cameras increased rear-end collisions, and that lengthening yellow lights by fractions of a second seemed more effective.

"These cameras are not providing safety in Menlo Park," she said.

Statistics per intersection compiled by the police department showed zero accidents at El Camino Real and Glenwood Avenue that were attributable to running a red light, one at El Camino Real and Ravenswood Avenue, and six at Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road during the two years prior to installing the cameras in 2008.

After the cameras were installed, the data show two to three accidents resulting from red-light violations at the Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road intersection, and none at the other locations.

The intersection of Chilco Street and Bayfront Expressway had one fatal collision, in 2011, and a total of 20 collisions during the past five years, although it wasn't clear how many accidents were due to red-light violations.

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Mayor Peter Ohtaki had asked staff to compile statistics before the Aug. 27 meeting on how many citations were due to drivers turning right against a red light at each monitored intersection.

Police Sgt. Sharon Kaufman said her analysis showed that 9 to 21 percent of the violations resulted from right turns.

Drivers pay $480 for a red-light ticket if the court does not reduce the penalty. Menlo Park gets about $155; the rest goes to the county and state. The staff report calculates that the program nets the city's general fund about $84,000 per year if all the cameras are operational.

Menlo Park's contract with Redflex contains a "cost neutrality" clause that saves the city from paying the $5,000 to $6,000 monthly fee per camera if revenue from citations doesn't cover the cost.

Fifty-five cities in California, including Belmont, Redwood City, Hayward, Emeryville, Union City and San Carlos, have shut down their red-light camera programs for a variety of factors, such as cost and effectiveness.

Councilwoman Carlton noted that some of those cities paid $50,000 to $100,000 to cancel their red-light camera contracts. She urged the Menlo Park council to delay its vote for six months to research the program's effectiveness.

Vice Mayor Ray Mueller asked to include a privacy policy in the contract that states video footage of non-violations will be erased after 30 days, and recordings for cases that do result in a citation be deleted as soon as the legal proceedings finish. The policy also states that only Menlo Park police can access the data.

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Menlo Park votes to keep red-light cameras

City will add fifth camera at Chilco and Bayfront

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Wed, Aug 28, 2013, 9:03 am

Breaking away from a trend of cities canceling red-light camera programs, the Menlo Park City Council decided on Tuesday (Aug. 27) to renew the town's contract and add a fifth red-light camera.

The vote was 4-1, with Catherine Carlton dissenting. The five-year contract will allow Menlo Park to keep its current four cameras -- mounted at Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road, and the intersections of El Camino Real with Glenwood Avenue and Ravenswood Avenue -- and add a a fifth at the intersection of Bayfront Expressway and Chilco Street.

Councilwoman Kirsten Keith said that for her, it was about safety. Red-light cameras correlate to a 13 to 29 percent reduction in all types of injuries, she said.

Council members had questioned why Menlo Park should pay more than other California cities that contract with Redflex. Staff said that jurisdictions that had been clients of Redflex for a longer period of time or had less stringent installation requirements were charged less.

However, the vendor did reduce the monthly fee for existing cameras from $5,397 to $4,950. The new camera will cost $6,200 a month.

Councilwoman Carlton said that she wasn't convinced the cameras were worth it. Her research showed that the cameras increased rear-end collisions, and that lengthening yellow lights by fractions of a second seemed more effective.

"These cameras are not providing safety in Menlo Park," she said.

Statistics per intersection compiled by the police department showed zero accidents at El Camino Real and Glenwood Avenue that were attributable to running a red light, one at El Camino Real and Ravenswood Avenue, and six at Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road during the two years prior to installing the cameras in 2008.

After the cameras were installed, the data show two to three accidents resulting from red-light violations at the Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road intersection, and none at the other locations.

The intersection of Chilco Street and Bayfront Expressway had one fatal collision, in 2011, and a total of 20 collisions during the past five years, although it wasn't clear how many accidents were due to red-light violations.

Mayor Peter Ohtaki had asked staff to compile statistics before the Aug. 27 meeting on how many citations were due to drivers turning right against a red light at each monitored intersection.

Police Sgt. Sharon Kaufman said her analysis showed that 9 to 21 percent of the violations resulted from right turns.

Drivers pay $480 for a red-light ticket if the court does not reduce the penalty. Menlo Park gets about $155; the rest goes to the county and state. The staff report calculates that the program nets the city's general fund about $84,000 per year if all the cameras are operational.

Menlo Park's contract with Redflex contains a "cost neutrality" clause that saves the city from paying the $5,000 to $6,000 monthly fee per camera if revenue from citations doesn't cover the cost.

Fifty-five cities in California, including Belmont, Redwood City, Hayward, Emeryville, Union City and San Carlos, have shut down their red-light camera programs for a variety of factors, such as cost and effectiveness.

Councilwoman Carlton noted that some of those cities paid $50,000 to $100,000 to cancel their red-light camera contracts. She urged the Menlo Park council to delay its vote for six months to research the program's effectiveness.

Vice Mayor Ray Mueller asked to include a privacy policy in the contract that states video footage of non-violations will be erased after 30 days, and recordings for cases that do result in a citation be deleted as soon as the legal proceedings finish. The policy also states that only Menlo Park police can access the data.

Comments

stop at the stop lights
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 28, 2013 at 9:47 am
stop at the stop lights, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 28, 2013 at 9:47 am
Like this comment

As a pedestrian, I have to say that red light runners are TERRORISTS. This included people running red lights to make right turns. I am very glad that the city is taking a stand against these criminals. Every single time I cross a street with a green light, I walk extra slowly so I can carefully watch for red light runners coming from all sides. This can be scary, though, since crossing slowly means that I sometimes don't get across the street before the walk light goes off. Too many pedestrians are being nailed by red light runners. I hope the city makes enforcement even stricter.


Red Knight
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 28, 2013 at 10:56 am
Red Knight, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 28, 2013 at 10:56 am
Like this comment

Some people will not stop unless it hits their pocketbooks. We need a red light camera on Bayfront Expressway and University.

Once the cameras go away, some people will start to run the red light again.


Henry
another community
on Aug 28, 2013 at 11:29 am
Henry, another community
on Aug 28, 2013 at 11:29 am
Like this comment

They paid way too much.

After citizens complained about the price (during the Aug. 20 meeting) Redflex offered a 9% discount, which will save $107,280 over the five years, but the city is still paying way too much. The target price should have been $3000 per camera per month, which would have saved an additional $468,000 over the five years. It is sickening to watch a city which just asked voters to raise the hotel tax (Nov. 2012 election) just throw away almost $ 1/2 million.

No wonder the city has been in financial straits. The city needs management which will negotiate HARD on all major purchases, including labor, not just accept the first offer.


Sandra
another community
on Aug 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm
Sandra, another community
on Aug 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm
2 people like this

This is just another victory for the crooks at Redflex. Despite what SATSL and RK are saying, a lot of people who are ticketed for right-hand turns are making slow, cautious turns and probably spending too much time looking out for cross traffic to notice that they are facing an often shortened yellow light! I also don't trust the Redflex videos. I know at least two excellent drivers (no prior violations, always wait for pedestrians to cross, etc.) who received right-turn tickets in the last two years. Neither could afford the exorbitant fine. Both went through the lengthy and tremendously difficult process of fighting their tickets.

I am glad that we don't have these cameras in Mountain View/Santa Clara Co. I am boycotting Menlo Park and all other camera towns.


Red
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 28, 2013 at 12:23 pm
Red, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 28, 2013 at 12:23 pm
Like this comment

Menlo Park council rewards Redflex for paying bribes in Chicago.

MP, the laughingstock of California.


Joseph E. Davis
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm
Joseph E. Davis, Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm
Like this comment

You mean the council prioritized revenue over the interests of the common citizen? What an absolute shock!


Downtowner
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm
Downtowner, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm
Like this comment

If Sandra & others who live in, maybe Mt. View, will boycott Menlo, that'll be great. Should reduce our crosstown traffic, which is another big problem.

Drivers from so many towns both north & south of MP, pile onto El Camino from Alma & onto Santa Cruz-Alameda at the county line that we're gridlocked far too much of the time. Non-residents, please go west to 280 or east to 101 so we can reclaim our streets.

By the way, will planners please think about this next time somebody wants to increase housing density here?


linda
another community
on Aug 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm
linda, another community
on Aug 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm
Like this comment

to the downtowner...like Menlo Park would survive without people from neighboring towns/cities??? We are causing gridlock for you...boo hoo
Please remember NEVER to leave Menlo Park, so you don't cause other neighboring towns/cities gridlock.


POGO
Woodside: other
on Aug 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm
POGO, Woodside: other
on Aug 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm
Like this comment

Law enforcement should be about safety, not money.

If it's about money, it's no different than those "speed traps" in South Carolina.


Rk
another community
on Aug 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm
Rk, another community
on Aug 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm
Like this comment

Redflex -- too corrupt for Chicago, but honored with a new contract in Menlo Park. Rich Cline, Kirsten Keith, Peter Ohtaki and Ray Mueller, take a bow.


Rk
another community
on Aug 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm
Rk, another community
on Aug 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm
Like this comment

One guy quoted in the Daily Post this morning made an interesting point -- with this new camera, the city will have two of its five cameras in the Belle Haven neighborhood. Since these tickets represent a tax upon residents, the council has cleverly figured out how to pick the pockets of the underprivileged. Way to go Menlo Park! You guys are certainly Progressive! Tax the poor to feed a government that serves the rich.


been there
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm
been there, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm
Like this comment

For the record, I have never gotten a camera ticket.
Anybody who says this is not about raising money is dead wrong. To give a ticked to someone who rolls through a red light on a right turn at one mile an hour is a money grab, plain and simple. To charge $480 to honest safe drivers for a safe but not complete stop is wrong. How many hours of work will a minimum wage driver need to pay for this minor infraction?
Call it what it is. Government sticking it to its citizens.


WoW!
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2013 at 3:00 pm
WoW!, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2013 at 3:00 pm
Like this comment

It's always about the money....These should go. But I doubt it if they will, unfortunately. Yup always on the backs of the poor, disadvantaged and disabled, nothing new here.

Sounds like a reverse Robin Hood syndrome.

I've seen in this city for many decades again, unfortunately.

Regarding safety in this city, well I can personally tell you when I walk anywhere I make sure when I cross a street (even if I have a green light) I have make eye contact with the driver.
And the same when I am driving, I make sure I make eye contact with the pedestrian... though you'd be surprise how many people just walk across Santa
Cruz Ave without making sure it is clear to go, scary. Safety should always be first.
But the red light cameras are over the top---It's all about the money!


Former Menlo Park Resident
Portola Valley: other
on Aug 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm
Former Menlo Park Resident, Portola Valley: other
on Aug 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm
Like this comment

If it's really about safety, why not reduce the amount of the fine? $480 is clearly excessive...



Joseph Baloney
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 28, 2013 at 4:11 pm
Joseph Baloney, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 28, 2013 at 4:11 pm
2 people like this

Safety, my a$$.
Increase the length of the yellow by half of a second if you want safety.
Rich Cline, Kirsten Keith, Peter Ohtaki and Ray Mueller have just ensured that I will vote in every local election in which I have the opportunity to vote against them. Congrats on increasing my civic participation.


MustBeDreaming
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm
MustBeDreaming, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm
Like this comment

Menlo Park just hit a new low. How can Council members Keith, Ohtaki, Mueller and Cline hold up their heads after knowingly cozying up with the crooked Redflex camera company that's in disgrace all over the country?
Why does Redflex bribe cities? Because the cameras don't decrease accidents! They don't even decrease red light violations, thanks to tricks with shaving yellow light timing, etc.
Think about this: if the cameras really functioned as a deterrent to running red lights, there would be fewer and fewer violations at the relevant intersections, which would mean fewer and fewer tickets, hence less and less revenue over time.
But Redflex assured Menlo Park that the city's cut from these tickets, will be $83,000/yr for the entire 5 years of the contract! So they already know the cameras don't work! But they DO change driver behavior: by getting people so rattled about the prospect of a whopping $500 ticket, they slam on their brakes and get rear-ended. So accidents actually INCREASE due to these cameras. This is a scam, pure and simple. Menlo Park just made a Devil's bargain.


Jeff
Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 28, 2013 at 4:57 pm
Jeff , Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 28, 2013 at 4:57 pm
Like this comment

I am so amazed that in an area of highly educated residents we end up with such incompetent elected officials. 4-1 vote? I guess we can feel good that at least one
Council person showed some ability at reasonable thought.
Thank You Cathrine !! Unfortunately there are four others who are totay incompetent
or, hopefully not, influenced by bribs. Well, I hate to say that but is it possible for any reasonable person to be as incompetent as these four ????


John Stewart
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2013 at 5:10 pm
John Stewart, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2013 at 5:10 pm
Like this comment

No doubt Menlo Park has four council members who will be enjoying a nice, fully paid for vacation (or some other benefit) in the near future thanks to Redflex. What else could explain the 4 insane votes ??


whatever
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2013 at 5:45 pm
whatever, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2013 at 5:45 pm
Like this comment

How many and which council and staff members have been wined and dined by Redflex?

Time to put this camera issue on the ballot. Our money, our vote.


whatever
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2013 at 5:47 pm
whatever, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2013 at 5:47 pm
Like this comment

Sandy
What happened to Redflex's new contract requirement for a 4/5 council vote to cancel the contract?


Willows Resident
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm
Willows Resident, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm
Like this comment

What a monumental waste of money. Lengthen the yellow but one second and cut down on the people running the red lights, of course that won't generate revenue for the city and Redflex but tough luck. Instead the city council spends our money on these cameras when all the neighboring cities have recognized they are a waste of time and money. I hope none of the council members who voted for this expect my vote when they come up for re-election.


Menlo Voter
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 28, 2013 at 6:56 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
on Aug 28, 2013 at 6:56 pm
Like this comment

It would be one thing if these cameras were located at intersections that had a clear problem with red light running as evidenced by accidents. These intersections DON'T. This is all about generating revenue and nothing about safety. Total BS. Thanks for not representing the citizens of Menlo Park, city council.


Henry
another community
on Aug 29, 2013 at 1:02 am
Henry, another community
on Aug 29, 2013 at 1:02 am
Like this comment

Buried in the middle of the council's hour-long discussion of the camera tickets is an exchange about "snitch tickets," which are fake tickets the MPPD sends out to fool registered owners into revealing who was driving their car. At 0:44:00 in the video of the meeting, Sgt. Kaufman admits that "You don't have to respond [to a snitch ticket]." That ability to ignore a snitch ticket is because they have not been filed with the court. To learn more about them, Google (or Bing): Snitch Ticket.


Red Herring
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2013 at 6:30 am
Red Herring, Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2013 at 6:30 am
Like this comment

Pursuant to state law snitch tickets are no longer issued by the Menlo Park Police Department.


John Murphy
another community
on Aug 29, 2013 at 9:41 am
John Murphy, another community
on Aug 29, 2013 at 9:41 am
Like this comment

"To give a ticked to someone who rolls through a red light on a right turn at one mile an hour is a money grab, plain and simple"

Unless of course that person is on a bicycle, in which case rolling through at one mile per hour is an outrage against our constitution!


Jane Murph
Hillview Middle School
on Aug 29, 2013 at 9:58 am
Jane Murph, Hillview Middle School
on Aug 29, 2013 at 9:58 am
Like this comment

"Unless of course that person is on a bicycle, in which case rolling through at one mile per hour is an outrage against our constitution!"

Red herring. No one complains about a bicyclist doing that. You know damn well it's the peacock color festooned, spandex clad (with logos that would embarrass a NASCAR driver) bicyclists. That blow thru stop signs and lights with the smug look of entitlement on their face that are ruining it for the good, everyday law-abiding bicyclists.

Red light cameras are a revenue atrocity.


Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 29, 2013 at 11:48 am
Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 29, 2013 at 11:48 am
Like this comment

The council voted to keep the 4/5 vote to cancel until February 2015, at which the cost of the installation should be fully amortized. It will then revert to a 3/5 vote.


John
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:47 pm
John, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:47 pm
Like this comment

Since they're keeping the red lights cameras they'd better fix them. At Ravenswood at El Camino that thing goes off all the time on green. That intersection has traffic light problems too. I try and avoid both
but if I get a ticket there, I will certainly fight it and when I win, Menlo Park will be a lot poorer.

Menlo Park, you can look forward to lots of court challenges.


mary
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 30, 2013 at 10:50 am
mary, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 30, 2013 at 10:50 am
Like this comment

Since this has passed the city traffic enforcement branch should make sure that the yellow light time is set to the appropriate amount of seconds. (NOT REDUCED SECONDS FOR THE MONEY GRAB) It is easy to get stuck in an intersection when the light changes. If this is truely about safety then the yellow light needs to remain on for the legal amount of time. I'm not sure what the amount of seconds is but I feel it is longer than the way some of the lights operate.


Henry
another community
on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:51 am
Henry, another community
on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:51 am
Like this comment

Red Herring wrote:

"Pursuant to state law snitch tickets are no longer issued by the Menlo Park Police Department."

Baloney!

State law does not prohibit the issuance of snitch tickets. In fact, SB 1303 of 2012 specifically ALLOWS the fake tickets. The bill, by Joe Simitian, went so far as to publish the exact form that the Snitch Tickets are to use. (Red, please have a look at CVC 40518 - but be sure to use a current code book, not your old copy from 2011.)

Thus, while the MPPD has the option to discontinue the use of Snitch Tickets, it doesn't have to, and likely will not because doing so would reduce the income from fines. MP is not the only city using Snitch Tickets, so a California motorist needs to know how to recognize the fake tickets the cops send out to fool registered owners into revealing who was driving their car. The ability to ignore a snitch ticket is because they have not been filed with the court, so the big "tell" is that the fakes do not give the name and address of the court! To learn more about them, Google: Snitch Ticket.


WoW!
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm
WoW! , Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm
Like this comment

Just as I stated in a previous post on the subject---

These camera need to go --- but unfortunately they won't.

It's about the money not safety. Again, unfortunately.

Way to go City of Menlo Park Council!



WoW!
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm
WoW!, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm
Like this comment

So sorry... I meant to write "These cameras need to go" as in plural.

Just as I stated in a previous post on the subject---

These camera need to go --- but unfortunately they won't.

It's about the money not safety. Again, unfortunately.

Way to go City of Menlo Park Council!


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