West Hollywood will begin ticketing drivers at four intersections who are captured on camera turning right on red without stopping, but only if those turns are judged by the Sheriff’s Department to risk danger to a pedestrian or other driver.
The City Council voted last night to approve such tickets and to review the situation in 90 days. The vote was four to one, with Councilmember John D’Amico opposing the measure.
In a 30-day survey, the local Sheriff’s Station identified 250 incidents at the four intersections in which motorists made right turns on red without stopping, about 100 of which involved vehicles driving at or over 15 miles an hour. According to Deputy Trent Miles there are an average of two collisions a year at all of West Hollywood’s intersections involving vehicles that turn right at red lights without first stopping.
The intersections were the red light cameras are installed are La Brea Avenue at Fountain Avenue (northbound and southbound), Beverly Boulevard at Robertson Boulevard (eastbound and westbound), La Brea at Santa Monica Boulevard (eastbound and northbound) and La Cienega Boulevard at Melrose Avenue (northbound and southbound).
D’Amico said he is concerned about the amount of the fines associated with the red light tickets.
“I’m not advocating that people run a red light,” D’Amico said. “I’m just concerned that the cost of these tickets is not consistent with our values … People come to our city to work, and they work $12 to $15 an hour jobs, and this is a lot of money for them.”
The actual penalty for turning right at a red light without stopping is $100. However the state legislature has tacked on numerous other fees to fund things such as courthouse repairs and DNA testing, boosting the payment to $490.
Sharon Perlstein, the city’s engineer, said the city receives $100 to $140 from each ticket. While the tickets do generate revenues for the state and the county, Perlstein said they aren’t money makers for the city. The cost to the city of the red light camera system is almost half a million dollars a year, she said.
The City Council’s decision was in response to a proposal by the city’s Department of Public Works and the Sheriff’s Station to use the cameras to ticket those making right turns on red at or over 15 miles per hour and those driving 10 miles an hour whose turns were deemed to be particularly dangerous. The city installed a new red light camera earlier this year that can identify cars making right turns on red. The old system could only allow identification of those driving straight through an intersection.
Councilmember Lauren Meister suggested the council ask the city’s Transportation and Public Safety commissions to study busy intersections to see if a “no right turn on red” sign would address some of the safety concerns. Councilmember Lindsey Horvath said she had reservations about the Department of Public Works proposal. However Horvath, noting that she recently was hit by a car making an illegal turn on Sunset Boulevard, said she could support ticketing drivers who make right turns on red while a pedestrian is in a crosswalk.
Councilmember John Duran and Mayor John Heilman voiced their support for the original proposal.