Letter from Citizen Jim to Napa City Council:
Venue: Napa council meeting 6-17-14, red light camera item
Honorable Mayor and Councilmembers:
Please consider asking staff to address the following things in their eventual report:
a. The percentage of tickets going to visitors to town. Why?
Most likely, staff's report will reveal that the huge majority of the tickets are going to visitors.
A March 2013 Napa Valley Register article http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/tickets-from-red-light-cameras-leveling-off/article_7eda8ca2-90df-11e2-ad6b-0019bb2963f4.html said that the figure in Napa is 76%, and in the nine cities discussed in FAQ # 22 on the website http://highwayrobbery.net/redlightcamslinksref.htm#FAQ , visitors ranged from 69% up to 98.5%.
That's important because operating cameras in an area with high turnover will never stop the running; there's always fresh meat, sorry, new visitors, making mistakes, being distracted or lost (unless you keep them out of the City by installing a dome, like the one they have in Chester's Mill, Maine). And the red light camera business model says it has to be that way because, without a continuing flow of tickets the camera company can't have the continuous flow of revenue it needs.
If a city genuinely wants to minimize running, and accidents, it will do things to make the problematic intersection stand out, look more important.
Put up more visible signal lights (larger diameter, with bigger backboards, with more of them placed on the "near" side of the wider intersections).
Paint "signal ahead" on the pavement.
Install lighted overhead street signs for the cross street (also placed on the "near" side), and larger bulbs in the streetlights at the intersection.
Has the City done any of the above at Jefferson/First where there was a 50% increase in injury accidents (per the Napa Valley Register article linked above)?
Then there is the issue of what to do about rolling right turns. It is evident from the official Redflex Redlight Offender Statistics (Set # 2 on the Napa page at http://highwayrobbery.net/redlightcamsdocsNapaMain.html ) that many tickets are for right turns. I submit that if the number and severity of accidents caused by rolling right turns is high and has not declined despite years of photo enforcement, the City should study its records to determine when during the red phase most of those accidents occur and then install "blank out" signs programmed to light up and prohibit right turns during the high risk periods.
b. The average age (and min/max) of those ticketed, broken down by camera location. Why is age of interest?
Those intersections where the age of violators is found to be significantly higher probably need to be made more navigable for older drivers. Sometimes it can be as simple as lengthening the yellow light.
c. What does staff do when they cannot determine the name and address of the person shown behind the wheel?
An article published last week discussed a recent ruling in which the court decried the "ethical miasma" created by some police departments' practice of issuing a red light camera ticket to the registered owner when it is obvious that someone else was driving the car. http://thenewspaper.com/news/44/4426.asp
d. No doubt staff's report will include an analysis of accident data. With all due respect to staff, may I suggest that the statistical analysis be done by a credentialed - and independent of other City ties - professional in the field of statistics?
e. Based upon what other cities are paying (see FAQ # 17 at the highwayrobbery.net website) the new monthly rent should be $3000 or less, per camera. If the rent is proposed to be more than that, there needs to be a detailed description of what extras or special services the City will get for the extra money - and why those things are needed.