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MP Seeking To Bridge Budget Gap Via Police Ticketing Frenzy?

Original post made by That Red-Light Flashing Now Means Ka-Ching!, Menlo Park: other, on May 18, 2009

OK, I guess the "Big Brother" red-light-photo money-makers aren't bringing in enough funds to bridge the city's budget gap, so Plan B is evidently to send out swarms of MP's finest in an effort to traffic-ticket our way back into the black, judging by the recent huge uptick in police traffic presence, especially along El Camino Real.

Given that it now appears to be only a matter of time until all our turns finally come (no matter how safe you may drive), I think that all MP citizens stopped and cited should be allowed to designate the city's portion of their fine to a specific city program (the library fund, for instance). This would at least make this "traffic-trap" scheme semi-palatable to us MP taxpayers.

Are you listening, Mayor Robinson?

Comments (30)

Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 18, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Yellow means slow down and red means stop.

Cry me a river and get over it.

Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 19, 2009 at 7:46 am

When you see the yellow light, stop if you can do so safely. If you can’t stop safely, enter the intersection cautiously.

Posted by No Sympathy Here
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 19, 2009 at 10:41 am

I'm now of the opinion that we just can't ticket people enough, that we need to ticket and ticket some more until people get it through their thick heads that traffic laws are "laws" for a reason. Case in point: how many people are still using their cellular phones while driving? On any given trip I make around town the percentage seems to be close to 50! Dialing, texting, blabbing away with their handsets pressed to their heads, completely disregarding the law we just passed prohibiting that behavior.

No, with so many entitled, self-centered people sharing the roads these days we need to hit them where it hurts and fatten the city and county coffers with the same punch. And after a couple flagrant offenses within, say, the span of a year we need to revoke licenses for months at a time. There's no other way to curb the escalating, reckless driving that too many people accept as the regrettable norm.


Posted by nor here
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

I don't think the police are ticketing enough. Every time I drive around Menlo Park obeying the speed limit, I check the rear view and see scowling drivers on my bumper. Almost every time I go out walking, I have to dodge cars who are entering the intersection while I'm crossing the street. Cars don't stop at stop signs, they turn on red lights, and, yes, people are still yakking on their cell phones and texting.

Unfortunately, the cops are among the worst offenders!

I don't like the red light cameras because I think the city got a rotten deal and most of the $ goes to the Australian vendor. But I'm all for nailing the people who flout the laws without any concern for consequences. If there were any real enforcement, drivers would have to improve their habits.

Posted by It's Not About Safety, It's About $$$
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 20, 2009 at 1:05 pm

No Sympathy Here:
"I'm now of the opinion that we just can't ticket people enough"

OK, so next time you're technically speeding down a road because of an artifically low posted speed limit, I'm expecting that you'll dutifully stop and drive right down to the police dept to self-report and pick up your ticket, right?

And by the way, don't even try to say you never speed. Everyone does most every day (if not every day) because of the low posted limits around here. Santa Cruz Ave past the shopping district is a perfect example - I'd bet less than 5% of the cars traveling down that stretch are within the limit the whole way through.

Posted by Still No Sympathy Here
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 20, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Someone whined:

"And by the way, don't even try to say you never speed. Everyone does most every day (if not every day) because of the low posted limits around here."

Everyone (by your estimation) does it, so it's right? Whenever anyone willfully breaks the law -- you, me, Santa Claus -- they should be ticketed, arrested, or whatever the offense calls for. You may feel the speed limits are too low -- I completely disagree, given the number of children that walk, bike, skateboard, etc. on our city streets. What confounds me is that you feel yourself the arbiter of which laws are to be obeyed and which may safely be ignored (e.g. speed limits). Isn't it simpler to ask that we citizens obey all laws? If you have a problem with the speed limits within Menlo Park try to get them changed (good luck) or move out of the area. Put my kids' lives at risk by speeding through my neighborhood and I hope the police ticket your arse all the way to Pequap, Nevada.


Posted by nor here
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 20, 2009 at 11:02 pm

I am stunned that anyone would speed on Santa Cruz. No sidewalks, people walking and skateboarding literally in the street. 30 mph feels too fast as it is.

It's Not About Safety, are you the guy who almost rearended me on Santa Cruz last Saturday when I turned right (after signaling, of course) to go to Hillview? Here's a hint: when you get irritated that I'm driving at the speed limit and start tailgaiting me to get me to speed up, my likely reaction is to slow down. If you're going to plow into me, I'd rather you do it at a relatively low speed.

Figure it out: how many seconds do you really save by hitting the gas on residential streets? It shouldn't take a tragedy for you to realize that it's better for everyone, including you, to obey the speed limit.

Posted by It's not about the money
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on May 21, 2009 at 11:14 am

"Artificially low speed limits" are OK to ignore?

Now I've heard everything!

For the sake of public safety, drivers with this kind of attitude should be ticketed until they have their licenses taken away.

Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2009 at 8:51 pm

In addition to the number of tickets written we need to re-consider the amount of the fines. Considering the seriousness of many traffic offenses I think the fines are ridiculously low. Littering is a $500-$1000 fine, but running a red light is only about $400 for a first offense. If it was $5000 we would have far fewer repeat violators. Many countries around the world have traffic fines on a sliding scale that is determined by your net worth and salary. Some people have paid millions of dollars in fines for drunk driving as a result. I would love to see fines set that way in California. We don't have enough enforcement, so we need to make every ticket count with maximum effect.

Posted by JTM
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 22, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Some people drive at a speed that they perceive as safe for them while ignoring the safety of others not in a big SUV. These people need to be identified (by ticket count) and have their driver side airbag replaced with a spear.

Posted by Betty
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 22, 2009 at 2:11 pm

I am glad to see the police out ticketing. I live downtown and I am amazed to see how few people stop at stop signs even at major intersections. If you are walking - you are taking your life into your hands trying to cross some intersections. Good work Menlo Park Police - There is no excuse for not stopping at a stop sign.

Posted by Sharon Heightster
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 22, 2009 at 2:47 pm

People speed like crazy around Sharon Heights, like on Sharon Park Drive, Sharon Road, Alameda, etc. etc. etc. People also jam it through the big intersections such as Junipero and Sand Hill, and Sharon Park and Sand Hill where they don't stop for pedestrians who are already crossing. Recently while turning left there I stopped for a pedestrian and got honked at by a yuppie mom driving her minivan behind me, who then tried to pass me on the right (while turning left!) and almost hit the pedestrian herself. Recently I was walking out of the Safeway parking lot and crossing in the crosswalk on Sharon Park, and another yuppie mom blasted by in her SUV, blew through the stop sign, and would have smashed me if I had been two steps further along. Then she comes to a stop in the middle of the intersection, backs up past the crosswalk now, moves forward and THEN stops at the stop sign. Can you believe it? She was "sorry" and I could have been killed right there. Ticket them all!!

Posted by anon
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm

people speed around like crazy because they have no time because someone was driving too slow in front of them before. if people don't drive so slow, others wouldnt be in such a hurry.

Posted by Read the law
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 22, 2009 at 4:25 pm

When speed limits are aritfically low, as in may places in Menlo Park, many if not most of the drivers are technically speeding and are breaking the law.
Callifornia, as well as all other states, subscribe to the "Basic Speed Law". This law simply states that 85% of all drivers on the road are safe and responsible drivers. When more than 15% of the drivers are found to be exceeding the posted speed limit, the posted speed limit is considered too low. This is why speeding violations that are issued using radar must be on a road that has been surveyed. Read the law.

Posted by Guido Veloce
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm

If you pick and choose which laws you want to follow, you have to accept the consequences of your actions.

I could spend all day reading the law, but I'm pretty sure there's no giant loophole that says, "If you feel the law isn't fair, feel free to break it without any fear of reprisal."

If you want to make up your own rules of the road, then you deserve to get ticketed because you are endangering everyone else. If you actually think you have a just cause, then work to get the law changed, or the speed limit raised, or a special personal waiver that frees you from obeying traffic signals if you don't feel like it.

Breaking the law and then whining about getting caught isn't going to earn you any respect.

Posted by nor here
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 22, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Where in MP is the speed limit too low? If anything, it is too high in many places, like those narrow, twisty neighborhood streets where you really shouldn't drive faster than 15 or 20 mph.

If you, heaven forfend, hit a child on one of those streets, saying "but I was going 25 mph" or even "I was driving 30 because MP speed limits are too low" isn't going to be much of a defense.

The trick is to figure out how to get you impatient "more important than thou" types to slow down -- or put you behind bars -- BEFORE you cause an accident.

Posted by No confidence
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on May 22, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Good god. As if not being able to balance a budget, approve a fair tax system, fix a broken pension system, and put choices before the voters other than taking money away from children and the mentally ill aren't reasons enough to lose confidence in our lawmakers. Now you tell me they believe that 85% of all drivers on our roads are safe and responsible? What planet do they drive on?

Posted by Mennlo Park Driver
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 22, 2009 at 5:40 pm

If you believe you can legally drive faster than the posted speed limit because of the Calif. Basic Speed Law, you need to read this direct quote from the Calif. Driver Handbook:

"California has a 'Basic Speed Law.' This law means you may never drive faster than is safe for current conditions. For example, if you are driving 45 mph in a 55 mph speed zone during a dense fog, you could be cited for driving 'too fast for conditions.' You may never legally drive faster than the posted speed limit, even if you think it is safe to do so."

If you believe that you are entitled to drive over the speed limit because you are low on time, try using that reasoning on a cop or a judge. You could be low on time all right -- time in the graybar hotel.

Posted by Small Carbon Footprint
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 23, 2009 at 7:30 am

I drive a Prius to the Menlo Park Caltrain station for my commute to work. I believe that environmentally conscious people should be allowed to drive up to 10 miles per hour above the speed limit if we drive hybrid automobiles. If we have passengers we are doing more to reduce our carbon footprint and we should be allowed to drive 15 mph above the speed limit except in school zones during school hours.

Posted by nor here
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 23, 2009 at 2:51 pm

SCF, I totally agree. It's fine to run over kids if you are driving a hybrid vs a gas guzzler. "Yes, your honor, I didn't see the child crossing the street because I was doing 40 in a 25 mph zone and my car is silent. BUT I didn't pollute as much as I could have!"

If the "Prius Defense" becomes an established legal precedent, it can come in handy in many circumstances. The Prius bank robber ("yes, I held a gun to the teller's head, but I used a Prius for my getaway car so you should dismiss my case") or Prius drug dealer ("okay, so I sold some illegal substances, but I made all my deliveries in a hybrid, which should offset any damage caused"). Do you suppose that I can demand that my kids' teachers give them straight As because I drive to school in a hybrid?

Posted by Charles A Reich
a resident of another community
on May 24, 2009 at 7:54 am

[Posts removed; poster using multiple names in same thread]

Posted by It's Not About Safety, It's About $$$
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 24, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Wow, what utter indignation!
And what utter "la-la" land folks seem to live in.

Next time on Santa Cruz just check your speed limit, that's all I ask.
I'll bet you dollars to donuts you don't do the speed limit the entire stretch through, especially if you make the turn up to (or from) Alameda de la Pulgas.

And, thanks for the info, Read The Law. Now I understand why cops aren't out on that stretch of road - the limit would never be justified by a survey.

Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on May 25, 2009 at 6:35 pm

The 85% law is about to be changed. It was originally passed many decades ago as an anti-speed trap law by a legislator who liked to drive very fast through the central valley on his way to Sacramento. He didn't want small towns on state highways to be able to lower speed limits in their towns and enforce them. He wanted to be able to blow through at full highway speed. It was never meant to be applied to urban or suburban areas, but times have changed and this law now hamstrings cops and prevents them from using radar to enforce safe speed limits in the face of an overwhelmingly irresponsible driving public. The details of the new law are still being negotiated, but it will almost certainly not use the 85th percentile of actual traffic as a measure of a safe and reasonable speed.

Posted by nor here
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 25, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Mmm, I don't go faster than 30 on Santa Cruz, and in some stretches, I go slower. So much for that theory!

I had heard about the speedtrap laws being modified; we don't have speedtraps in MP, and there's no reason that speeders shouldn't get tickets. Not every road needs to be surveyed, and the cops may ignore someone who's doing 35 mph on Santa Cruz...but if someone is doing 50, the cops need to be able to give the driver a ticket.

Posted by Wow
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2009 at 3:37 am

These posts have been hilarious. A couple of quick points...unless the cop cites for a Municipal Code violation (which rarely happens), as opposed to a California Vehicle Code violation (which is what the vast majority of tickets are for), the city gets a paltry sum from each of the tickets their cops write. For MPMC cites, the monetary reward is a bit more. Most of the money goes to the state, DMV, and the courts. Suggesting that ticket writing is increasing to bridge some revenue gap is a stretch of logic that doesn't make is past some quick research. When cities saturate an area for traffic enforcement, it is usually in reaction to complaints, or an accident or accidents, and they are out in force trying to slow people down. The idea is that if you see a motor cop hiding behind a tree once, you will always slow down near that tree just in case. It also helps the police say they are doing something proactive to keep accidents and related injuries down. However you feel about increased traffic enforcement, a money making scheme it is not.

Posted by Mr. WhatsKnew
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Atherton and Menlo have been ticketing for years to get revenue.
Every Oak tree has a motorcycle hiding behind it.

Posted by Al Green
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 27, 2009 at 12:41 pm

To Support our Environmentally Green City Council all police motorcycles should be replaced with bicyles and all police cars should be replaced with Tesla sports cars. All tickets should be written on recycled paper and all police uniforms should be made from bamboo fiber.

Posted by Dose of reality
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 28, 2009 at 1:27 pm

I hate to be the one to break it to all of you who feel you are entitled to speed, but here it goes:

You aren't that important.

I know, it's hard to hear, but it's true. If it takes you an extra two minutes to get to where you have to go, the world will not end. Your schedule is not more important than the lives and well-being of others.

If you can't rid yourself of the nagging feeling that the world will, in fact, end if you are two minutes late, then leave two minutes earlier.

Posted by What can you be thinking?
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 29, 2009 at 10:49 am

Dear Dose, You obviously haven't lived in this area, The Center of the Universe, very long. You don't think that Bluetoothed gesticulating creature behind the wheel of the black BMW two feet behind you is important? Or that Suburban-driving mama barrelling down your neighborhood street, checking her text messages? If this kind of behavior bothers you, well then you should just move back to Civility, or Sanity, or Paradise, or -- wherever it is you came from.

Posted by Does of reality
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 29, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Actually, I'm from the Peninsula, lived here all my life. I've lived here long enough to remember a time when this wasn't The Center of the Universe (I can't speak for Atherton, however).

Speaking of black BMWs, a big-boned blond behind the wheel of a black Beemer nearly nailed a bicyclist in a crosswalk at San Mateo Drive/Santa Cruz Ave. this morning.

It seems the little white Japanese car in front of her made the mistake of stopping at the crosswalk, so Ms. In-A-Hurry decided to swerve into the right-hand shoulder to go around her law-abiding fellow motorist. Fortunately, both the Beemer and the bicyclist came to screeching halts in time to avert catastrophe.

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