Poway’s red-light cameras turned off

By Steve Dreyer

Red-light cameras at three Poway intersections  were shut off Friday night to start a six-month trial period.

Meeting Tuesday night, the City Council agreed to have the cameras turned off to judge whether their presence makes a difference in the number of accidents at the three intersections.

City crews removed the related signs on Saturday.

The red-light camera vendor, Rediflex, will not provide any services during the six-month test period, Heidermann said. The city has paid for the service through the end of March but will not be charged the $18,480 monthly fee during the balance of test period, he said.

A report on traffic accidents at the three intersections will be available about six weeks following the conclusion of the test period, according to Heidermann.

Mayor Don Higginson had recommended Tuesday night  the program be done away with entirely, but agreed that covering up the cameras a  for six months, much like the City of El Cajon decided recently to do, would be a good way to determine whether the camera system is effective.

Councilman Jim Cunningham urged the sheriff’s department to keep an eye on the three intersections so that motorists don’t feel as “they have a free pass to run red lights.”

Several cities in the county, including the City of San Diego, have recently decided to do away with the systems, which snap photos of vehicles running through intersections or making rolling “California stops” during right-hand turns. Several council members said the most of the citizen complaints they have received about the cameras have to do with the right-hand turns.

Poway was among the first cities in the region to install the cameras, in 2005. The systems are currently at three city intersections: Scripps Poway Parkway and Community Road, Ted Williams Parkway and Pomerado Road and Poway and Pomerado roads. The city contracts with Rediflex Traffic Systems, Inc.

In the seven years the program has been in operation, the number of broadside, or “T-bone” crashes at the three intersections has declined 53 percent, according to a city report prepared for the mayor. In the seven years prior to the cameras there were 62 crashes, or 8.9 per year. With the cameras operating the seven-year total was 29 crashes, or 4.1 per year. However, the number of rear-end accidents at these intersections increased 8 percent during the seven years of the right-light camera program, the report said.

Revenues returned to the city from tickets have been used for several traffic improvement projects. Higginson said the Poway cameras were approved as a way to better manage the time of sheriff’s deputies, who otherwise would be spending time writing tickets for suspected red-light running. Using the cameras as a revenue-generating source was not a factor, he said.

Three residents spoke on the issue Tuesday night. All supported the continued use of the cameras. Two suggested that more intersections be added to the program.

In agreeing to shut off the cameras for six months, the council asked city staff to explore other ways to cut down on red-light running, including extending the time yellow lights are on and programming a period when red lights are shown in all four intersection directions.

The El Cajon experiment was mentioned Tuesday night by City Attorney Morgan Foley, who also provides legal advice to that city.

In other matters, the City Council:

• Voted 3-2 to reduce the cost to food truck owners of obtaining a city-required license, ID cards and background checks for each employee, from $105 to $50. Councilmen Steve Vaus and Dave Grosch voted against the motion. The council briefly discussed, but then rejected, the idea of writing a special fee ordinance for food trucks.

• Heard that the city may end the 2012-13 fiscal year with a surplus of about $5 million, thanks largely to unexpected, one-time post-redevelopment payments from the county, revenues from the sale of a city-owned office building on Poway Road and money from a legal settlement. During budget deliberations in June, the council will discuss a staff suggestion, endorsed by Higginson, that much of the surplus be earmarked for a new community center in Community Park.

• Approved a conditional use permit allowing an existing building at 12160 Community Road (the former Alba Motor Sports building) to be used as an indoor trampoline center. Mike Foster is the applicant.

Pre-recorded Poway City Council meetings can be viewed on Cox Channel 24 and Time Warner Channel 19. Broadcast times are 6 p.m. on Monday, Thursday and Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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Posted by Steve Dreyer on Mar 8 2013. Filed under Local News, Poway. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

20 Comments for “Poway’s red-light cameras turned off”

  1. ShyCam

    PIty about the cameras. Without proof of service, they provided a nice hidden tax to fleece the Sheople. Although certainly more just, it's unfortunate that the rest of us will have to make up the revenue difference.

  2. Henry

    Last week the El Cajon city council voted to shut their cameras off for a six-month study, just like Poway has just voted to do. But beyond that the two cities seem to be handling it differently. El Cajon had their cameras shut down the day after the council meeting, while Poway is talking about continuing to the end of the month – which will allow time for the issuance of another 500 tickets worth $300,000 in fines. I think El Cajon got it right, this time.

  3. Tom Yarnall

    This article did not paint a clear picture. The total accident rate on Scripps has hardly changed since the camera was installed and the rate on Poway Road is up slightly(3%). The Ted Williams intersection is driving the stats., so why not just leave it installed?

    • Poway Dad

      Agreed. Any why don't they give the number of rear-end collisions? (they only give percent change)?? Are there more total accidents now or less ?? You can't tell from this article!!!

      • Joe St. Lucas

        For the three red-light camera intersections in Poway:
        48 rear end collisions in the seven years prior to the lights, 52 rear end collisions in the seven operational years.
        62 broadside collisions in the seven years before the lights, 29 broadside collisions while the cameras were on.

        • Poway Dad

          Good info. Reducing the (more dangerous) broadside accidents by 1/2, while only incurring a minor increase in rear-end accidents is a good thing.

          • Joe St. Lucas

            I saw a broadside collision yesterday at RB Rd and W. Bernardo Drive after noon. The eastbound car drove through the intersection at warp speed a full 2-3 seconds after the light changed to red, hitting a southbound car. The collision was squarely on the drivers side front door and rear. No one was killed but it's easy to see how that could happen, hit the car a little to the front or rear and it would have spun around. Hit "off-square" and you'd push the door into the driver.

          • TCK

            Ah…I see total numbers presented below. What is the source for these numbers (48:52 & 62:29)?

          • TCKC

            You don't know if it is a minor increase beacause total numbers are not used.

    • Eleanor Oakley

      You're right, Tom. I live close to the TW/Pomerado Rd intersection and I would wager most residents in this area welcomed the cameras as before they were installed, the accidents were frequent and not pretty Also, the after-work traffic coming East down TW turning left onto Pomerado Rd was backed up thru the intersection as people continued to turn on the yellow with nowhere to go. Add to that the fire station 1 block South on Pomerado and emer. vehicles not being able to get through the intersection. Goodbye to common sense and safety.

      • mehoff

        so what youre saying is, we need to have laws, backed up by force, to make sure we are all safe and have common sense.

      • sd_sundevil

        Sounds like the lights need better coordination. That's a rampant problem in San Diego as a whole – none of the lights are timed off the others. Legging left arrow (after the regular green) also helps traffic flow, but you don't see that around here either. You'd think we'd have smarter traffic engineers around here given the amount of time consumed, gas wasted by sitting at red lights.

        • Fix the lights.

          100% Agree. I timed the left turn signal at Twin Peaks and Silverset the other day. 4 freaking minutes later it finally gave me the signal to turn left. Waste of gas indeed. Come on Poway. You already have the best roads around, now fix the lights to match them.

        • TCK

          The timing on most of the lights in North County is set such that you get stopped at nearly every light. And, they are constantly adding new lights…even where there is little or no cross traffic.

          I have lived and commuted in Illinois, Ohio, Alabama, Virginia and Washington DC over the past 30 years and the lights on major thoroughfares are timed so that you get a green light and go the speed limit, you will go miles without being stopped again.

    • Joe St. Lucas

      FYI, not all of the approaches to the intersections were actually covered by WORKING red light cameras even though it might look that way. According to the agenda report, the eastbound and southbound approaches to Pomerado/Ted Williams had the cameras.
      The east and west approaches on Poway Rd/Pomerado and the eastbound one at scripps poway pkwy. Now, approaching these intersections you might forget, hmmm, which directions have the lights working and which ones don't?

  4. Joe St. Lucas

    In cutting down the fees for food trucks, they also cut down the fees for door-to-door solicitors. Now we can expect even more aluminum siding salespeople, solar panel salesfolks, etc., to pop up at your front door to try to get you to buy something from them. Also, the brick and mortar shops will probably want a decrease in their fees since we've now lowered the fees for door-to-door licenses and that's creating a special monetary benefit for some of the businesses in Poway and not all. Heck, I'd want a decrease in fees if I had a store.

    • Tom needs a hobby

      Joe, with all due respect, I have never had an aluminum siding salesperson visit my house. It's more of a back east trend.

      • Joe St. Lucas

        I was going to say "expect more Fuller Brush salesmen" but I haven't seen any of them in 30 years either.

    • mehoff

      in america, once land of the fee, why should you have to pay, to get a piece of paper from the government, to do business with your fellow man.

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