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Menlo Park: Red-light camera contract extended to allow in-depth evaluation

Original post made on Oct 30, 2018

Red-light cameras in Menlo Park, and the vendor that supplies and operates them, Redflex, will be getting a closer look in the months to come.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 30, 2018, 11:58 AM

Comments (36)

Posted by Who's paying attention?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 30, 2018 at 12:22 pm

How is that the contract was up MONTHS ago and NOW we are going to extend it again and look in to whether it's a good idea or it is a good vendor? Who's watching the store? Contract ends are pretty well documented and somebody should have been managing it long ago. Keep this in mind when voting.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 30, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

These cameras have been in place for years. And NOW they want to evaluate their effectiveness?

Posted by the grubber of money
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Oct 30, 2018 at 2:15 pm

They ARE very effective.

At making money for the contractor and town.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 30, 2018 at 2:42 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"They ARE very effective.

At making money for the contractor and town."

Absolutely correct.

Posted by Red Light Runner
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Must be really, REEEEEEAAAAAALY hard to stop at red lights, huh?

Looks like we have some people here who need the drivers' licenses revoked by the DMV.

Posted by the grubber of money
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Oct 30, 2018 at 3:29 pm

>>Looks like we have some people here who need the drivers' licenses revoked

Based on what? Questioning the usefulness of something that has not reduced red light running around town?

That's an odd viewpoint.

Posted by Been There
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 30, 2018 at 4:14 pm

Been There is a registered user.

I agree completely with
James Walker, executive director of the National Motorists Association Foundation, in September sent an email to the Menlo Park council urging its members to end the city's contract for red-light cameras.

In the email he argued that people don't like the cameras; that voters generally don't support them; that they boost profits, not safety; that longer yellow lights are more effective to increase safety; that most red-light cameras end up fining drivers who make slow rolling right turns or who enter the intersection less than 1 second into a red light; and that yield fines that are very burdensome to lower-income citizens. Tickets for such violations typically cost about $500.

BTW, I have never been ticketed from a red light camera. It is a public shake down, plain and simple.

Posted by JimL
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2018 at 4:15 pm

I think there's a ticket quota - and that the effectiveness evaluation could end up being rigged.

The City's red light cam ticketing jumped in May 2018, to the highest since Jan. 2009, and in June, July and August 2018 it was higher yet. The ticketing in that May - August period:

A. Was 66% higher than the ticketing seen in January - April 2018.

B. Was 55% higher than the average ticketing seen in May - August of 2016 and May - August of 2017.

C. If continued through December 2018 will produce 8107 tickets in 2018, 37% higher than in 2017.

D. If continued in 2019 will produce 9351 tickets by the end of that year, 58% higher than in 2017.

A possible explanation of why the ticketing went up in May is this March 15, 2018 email from MPPD Commander Dixon to Traffic Sergeant Mackdanz:

"According to the current budget information our Redflex numbers are way down year to date. I'm trying to determine if this is due to one installation being lower than the rest or if the lower numbers are across the board.

"Please have Deborah contact Redflex and get a fiscal year (16/17 vs 17/18) to date comparison of each installation.


(sig) "Commander William A. Dixon"

(That email was obtained legally, via a public records request.)

Given the MPPD's apparent ability to adjust the quantity of tickets to meet a financial target, I am concerned that the just-called-for effectiveness evaluation - if it is done internally at the MPPD - could end up favoring the cameras. I suggest that the city manager should have that evaluation done by an outside firm with professional credentials in statistics and which is distant enough not to care whether it gets more contracts from the city.

Posted by JimL
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2018 at 5:29 pm

At the Oct. 23 council meeting two residents spoke convincingly of the dangerous rolling right turns at El Camino and Ravenswood.

The MPPD started issuing right turn tickets there in July 2015. Annual ticketing at Ravenswood, from the city's official reports:

2013: 893
2014: 797
2015: 2127
2016: 3603
2017: 2790
2018: 3810 (projection based upon Jan. - Aug. data)

In rough numbers, there's been 8000 tickets ($4 million in fines) issued for Ravenswood right turns, yet the violations have not gone down. And as long as there's lots of visitors to the area, the violations will not
go down. Unless...

The city should ask CalTrans to mount a 24" x 24" or larger "blank out" (electric) sign at Ravenswood and program it to display the universal no right turn symbol during those portions of the signal cycle when pedestrians are crossing. Blank out signs are still comparatively rare, so it will definitely get noticed and the rolling rights will cease. The only downside will be that the city's camera ticket income will drop.

Posted by Red Light Runner
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2018 at 6:41 pm

Gee, you point out facts, and people get upset at you...

Remember: If you obey the law, you have nothing to worry about. I mean, isn't that the usual mantra from folks like you?

Posted by Statsmanipulation
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 30, 2018 at 7:12 pm


Maybe, just maybe traffic has also increased significantly in the last 5 years?


Regarding the benefit of the cameras:

Menlo Park is different from any other place on the World, so we need to re-invent.

Posted by Abby da Crab
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 30, 2018 at 7:35 pm

Red light runner - what actual facts did you "point out"?

None that I can see.

Turn off these money machines.

Posted by Jeanine
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 30, 2018 at 8:14 pm

Red Light Runner: what facts? You just expressed some lame opinion.

I'm against them for all the reasons and FACTS listed by others above.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 30, 2018 at 8:26 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

These cameras were installed at intersections that had NO collisions caused by red light runners. Why? Because it was like shooting ducks in barrel. Easy money. The city is screwing the drivers of this city. These cameras do NOTHING to improve traffic safety. i.e. ECR and Oak Grove; ZERO wrecks or citations there before the camera was installed. Tons of citations after. No more after. Guess that camera is really doing its job. NOT.

City Council: pull your heads' out. We don't want these revenue generators. These cameras don't provide safety, they provide revenue to the city. STOP IT! When you put these obvious revenue generators in place you further reduce our respect for the law. If we think it's BS, we'll ignore it.

Posted by Call a spade a spade
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 30, 2018 at 8:46 pm

Discontinue the red light camera program. Period.

The cameras do not serve the people and do not reduce accidents. They are a huge burden to well-meaning, immigrant Uber/Lyft drivers who may happen to slightly roll a right-turn red.

The penalty is unreasonable and disproportionate relative to the "crime" and other municipalities' handling of it.

Let's not pay corporations to help governments spy on their citizens. Enough is enough.

Posted by Easy Solution
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 30, 2018 at 11:30 pm

Make the cameras record 24/7.

Every time an criminal running a red just touches somebody with the right of way, make the footage available to the victim(s).

Victims recovers damages PLUS a reasonable fee for the evidence, payed by the criminal.

Red-light runners are not those who depend on their DL, they are those who can afford a ticket and think the law doesn't apply to them.

Posted by Ticketed
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 31, 2018 at 6:48 am

I agree with the poster who mentioned that probably most drivers are ticketed for turning right on a red light. At the Ravenswood crossing, heading north on El Camino and then turning right on Ravenswood at a red light when west bound traffic on Ravenswood is making a left turn on El Camino, is actually safer than turning right on the green light. In that example, when the light is red, no pedestrians can cross El Camino and traffic heading west on Ravenswood, and then turning left on El Camino, prevents East bound traffic from entering the intersection, making it the safest time for a right turn. There really should be a green arrow for drivers turning right at that time, like at the Sandhill/El Camino crossing. I'm sure many are ticked for that. I was and will try to fight it, especially since the photo shows that my brake lights are on.

I've stood at the Ravenswood crossing when no traffic is moving, when suddenly the camera lights start flashing. I think that sometimes it just randomly takes photos to try and trap drivers, hoping that they'll just pay up without a fight.

If done correctly, without trying to trap those who aren't driving dangerously, the cameras can be useful to prevent dangerous drivers from plowing through intersections on red lights. There's a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.

Posted by citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 31, 2018 at 8:36 am

Two Problems or Solutions that District 2 will and have encountered:


Red Light Cameras are money makers for city and vendor. Get rid of them. Use your new motorcycle group to enforce traffic laws. On this subject, Marsh and Willow Road traffic.....MPPD, get off your butt and work the areas during high volume heavy traffic. I cant remember seeing any traffic cops out there! MPPD get out of your cars and get to work!

How about having Facebook, since they created this problem, pay for some traffic officers to direct traffic as in large cities as NY and Boston. Also, have Facebook pay for the removal of the center island on Willow Rd and turn it into a three travel lane. Also, traffic light signals are not coordinated to change together...This causes a back up too.



Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 31, 2018 at 2:02 pm

Brian is a registered user.


Can you tell me why most of the posts supporting Keith are from anonymous posters (or maybe the same poster using a different name each time). I guess it is because you like to spread false information without being identified.

Combs can certainly vote on Red Light Cameras. The real question is why did the current council postpone a decision. Those cameras have been around for years, we certainly have the data to make an informed decision, so why didn't they? Is the plan to do nothing before the election (not that Keith really did much before the election aside from approving new office space). She certainly didn't do much for the cut through traffic in the Willows until faced with hundreds of signatures on a petition and dozen of people speaking before the council. I guess that is what it would take to make a decision on the Red Light Cameras?

Why should the city ask Facebook to pay for additional officers and enforcement, is Menlo Park becoming a company town? They already pay for some officers which sets up a conflict of interest for the Police Department. Why would you want to make it worse? Can't the city of Menlo Park afford to pay for adequate enforcement?

Posted by It's time to vote.
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 31, 2018 at 2:10 pm

The strongest argument against Keith is her record. She has been on Council eight years. All this hyperbole about what she can make Facebook do in the future, just underscores and highlights what she hasn't done in the last eight years.

Posted by JimL
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2018 at 6:53 pm

I want to throw a couple more facts into the pot.

90% of MP's camera tickets go to visitors, per a slide presented during the Aug. 20, 2013 city council meeting.

We often hear local councilmembers agreeing that a $500.00 fine for a rolling right is too high but also saying that they can't do anything about it because it is set by the court or the legislature, beyond the city's control. I would point out that the City of Los Angeles was able to cut their rolling right fine in half by citing under CVC 21453(b), which has a considerably lower "base" fine (35.00) than 21453(a) does ($100). MP can easily afford to reduce the fine, as in the typical month the program nets the city substantially more than the cost to operate it; in May the monthly remittance from the court to the city was $58,347 while the monthly rent the city paid to Redflex ($26,000) was less than half of that.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 31, 2018 at 7:04 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Get rid of these cameras. They are unnecessary, they don't reduce accidents (there weren't any accidents where the cameras were placed before they were installed) and they rip drivers off. The fine for a red light ticket is now at $450 including all court fees and other fees. It is absurd that the city screws their citizens with these unnecessary cameras. They are nothing more than a money grab by the city.

Posted by stop means stop
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 31, 2018 at 8:55 pm

Educational Part:
As far as I know/experience, as long as you come to a complete stop (no wheel turn), you do not get a ticket and if you do, fight it with success.

I commute through there and have turned (legally) on Red at that light literally several hundred times.

You guys call following the Law a "Money Grab"?
How about a "Life-grab" if you hit somebody?

I also occasionally cross there on foot and by bike.
It is scary.
On more than one occasion I would have been hit if I hadn't anticipated the scofflaw driver not yielding (Think SUV/Box Truck obstructing view).
But I am somewhat young, spry and athletic, like many of the Techies who use that crosswalk to get to CALTRAIN.

No sane parent lets their children near ECL anyway. Same for Disabled and Frail.
It is just sheer luck nobody got severely injured/killed there.

Not following the law and being held accountable = Money Grab?

Nice going (pun intended)!

Posted by Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 31, 2018 at 9:24 pm

Hey Brian:

Do you think Facebook is the problem that causes Menlo Park's traffic problem?

I do, and so do many others that live in Menlo Park!

Think of this Brian:
How about the council take on Facebook and have them start paying for the messed up situation on Marsh and Willow Roads.

Red Light controls are part of traffic control....right!
Police added personnel and enforcement would help...right!
An extra center lane, excluding the center island would provide a solution.

If the Menlo Park Council held Facebook to task and have them pay for all the extra improvements.....COMBS COULD NOT VOTE FOR THE RESIDENTS OF DISTRICT 2 BECAUSE HE WORKS AT FACEBOOK.......

Come on Brian, it's pretty simple.......I want someone who can vote on FACEBOOK Issues, I know you will say that KEITH HAS NOT VOTED AGAINST FACEBOOK.....BUT what if she wants to hold them to task and pay for these recommendations-improvements...SHE CAN, COMBS CAN'T......

Brian......KEITH should continue on the council.

Posted by Drew has integrity....
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 31, 2018 at 9:40 pm

As the Daily Post Said:

"Finally, a candidate with ethics, integrity

[Portion removed; you can link to a story in another publication if you also offer your own comments, but please honor copyright law and don't quote long passages.]

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 1, 2018 at 7:50 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.


No, I don't call following the law a money grab, I call red light cameras a money grab. Because they are. They do not increase safety as they are at intersections that had ZERO record of collisions caused by red light runners. Now why would you put a camera in at an intersection that had no history of red light running caused collisions? Hint: it's easy money for the city.

Posted by Julia D
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 1, 2018 at 8:45 am

10ft/s2 to decelerate comfortably
35mph = 53ft/s
Menlo Park is stated as busy and dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists
Given this calculations intersections need a min of 5.3 secs to stop safely. The yellow light is currently 4sec long.
This causes rash decision making and needs significant reaction times.

Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 1, 2018 at 9:31 am

Brian is a registered user.

Anonymous Citizen,

Do you think Facebook is the problem that causes Menlo Park's traffic problem?"

No, I think our current City Council is the reason we have such bad traffic.

Facebook is a business, their priorities are to the share holders, they customers, their employees, and somewhere down on that list of priorities for a company is being good neighbors. They do not take an oath to "Do no harm".

Our City Council on the other hand has as their primary responsibility to represent the people of their city, something they have failed to do. Facebook has to get approval from the City Council to build their office buildings and the council can require traffic studies and traffic mitigation as part of the permit approval, they do not do this. Kirsten Keith has voter to approve Facebook without requiring traffic studies and mitigation several times and even approved a General Plan Update that would rezone land to allow for Facebook Village after several members of the Planning commission recommended not approving it without a Traffic Mitigation plan.

So if you want to look for someone to blame for the bad traffic then you have to look no further than the one group of people who we elected to look out for our interests, who have the authority and the power to do that and who chose not to, the Current City Council of Menlo Park.

Keith has a record of doing what ever Facebook wants. When has she never held them to anything? If you vote for her, based on her record, you will be looking at another huge Facebook Campus that is essentially a small city and thousands more trips on the already overcrowded roads every day. I hope you like you home because you won't get to leave it very much with the traffic Facebook Village will bring.

I know you like to attack Combs on this, mainly because Keith supporters have nothing else to talk about. The certainly don't want to discuss her record, they don't want to get anywhere near a discussion on ethics, Transparency into city Government is a "no fly zone" for them so what have they got? Drew works at Facebook, that is it and it actually works in the favor of District 2. Since he does not vote on any development directly related to Facebook it is effectively a NO vote. Why? With the current council of 5 it takes a majority of 3 to pass anything. With Combs on the council it is still required to pass by the majority of votes (still 3).

Now that we got sidetracked let me ask you a question. Why would you vote for a candidate who wants to hide who she meets with that has business before the city? Who does not believes in transparency in city government?
Keith, and the other members of the council except Mueller, shut down a discussion on the Sunshine proposal that would make the council and top city officials calendars open to the public so we could see when they were meeting with developers and others with business in front of the city. As a resident, if I want to talk to the council I get 3 minutes to comment at a City Council meeting and that gets documented. Shouldn't the voters get to know if a Facebook exec takes a council member out to an expensive dinner to spend 4 hours talking about their project?

I answered your question, will you answer mine?

Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 1, 2018 at 9:40 am

Brian is a registered user.

Back on topic...

The company that runs the Red Light Cameras is a business and they operate like one. They do not care about accidents they care about profit. They pay for everything related to the cameras and even guarantee the city a minimum income from each one. Does that sound like something that is in our best interest? I seem to recall, a few years back, that the amount of time the light stays Yellow was too short and it was suggested to make this longer but did not happen (It would have reduced the income from these lights)

* We have years of data,
* There has been lots of feedback collected
* The city knew exactly when the contract was expiring

What is the excuse for not making a decision and claiming to need more time to "study the results"? Incompetence? Not wanting to make a decision before the election? Wanting to maximize the profits as long as possible?

None of these are acceptable reasons to me.

Posted by Peter
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 1, 2018 at 11:56 am

Australia has solved this problem very nicely.
1) Keep active cameras in about 20% of the camera housings.
2) Put camera housings at most intersections.
3) Move the cameras around occasionally.

The result is obvious. Everyone assumes that every intersection is monitored (or could be with decent odds), so everyone avoids running red lights like the plague. The revenue generation question is addressed because people are encouraged to behave even when the city/company aren't making money on an empty camera housing.

Posted by the grubber of money
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Nov 1, 2018 at 11:59 am

"so everyone avoids running red lights like the plague"

Proof? Links? Such a blanket statement should be easy to substantiate.

My experience there suggests otherwise...

Posted by John Galt
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 3, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Looks like the Libertarian Party of San Mateo County found this thread. With more and more kids walking and biking to school these days, we should EXPAND the use of these cameras. If you don't like getting ticketed, how about you just come to a full and complete stop?

This and the Ravenswood Avenue grade separation thread, man- how hard is it to take personal responsibility for your own bad driving?

Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 3, 2018 at 2:21 pm

Brian is a registered user.

The cameras have not proven themselves to be useful in the least. They are cash cows for the company that puts them off and for the city which is guaranteed revenue from them. Based on that alone there is no good justification for keeping those cameras. They are not at intersections were kids going to school are going to be Crossing.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 3, 2018 at 6:18 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

@John Galt:

If the cameras were at intersections that previously had demonstrated problems from red light runners it might make sense. They aren't and they don't. They are nothing more than a cash grab by the city. They need to go.

Posted by jerk
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2018 at 7:45 am




Crime against citizens

Posted by Walt
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 7, 2018 at 8:47 am

Get rid of them.

I vote against anybody who runs for office who supported then in any way.

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