Contact Street Smarts
Capitola red light cams still there and active
Q Whatever happened to the (red light)cameras at Clares Street and 41st Avenue? I heard that they were moved, but where to? Or did this turn out to be just another waste of taxpayer's money? Carsten Hauge A The red light cams on 41st Avenue -– both the one at Clares and that at the entrance to Capitola Mall -- are still there, Carsten. The camera at the mall entrance has been there since October 2005, while the one at Clares was installed in November 2007, according to officials in the Capitola Police Department, which keeps track of the devices. The cameras were installed and are being maintained by American Traffic Solutions, or ATS, at no cost to the city. The cameras have been handy in helping decrease the number of red light violations, issuing nearly 2800 citations since their installation. But the cameras haven’t been without headache. When they were first installed, the city saw quite a few erroneously issued traffic tickets, said Chief Richard Ehle. Motorists who were “squealing to a stop” and passed over the limit line, were being photographed and issued citations, he said. The cameras have their own sensor, instead of one embedded in the pavement, which is more accurate. So the cameras had to be tweaked to stop doing that, he said. But a lingering problem the department is having is that of collecting the fines that are due. Citations for running a red light cost offending motorists $381, plus any fees that are tacked on. When a police officer pulls a driver over and issues a ticket, the motorist can sign the citation. In photo ticketing, there’s no signature and that’s what the courts have a problem with, Ehle said. Without the signature the courts won’t issue warrants when red light runners fail to pay, he said. So, his department is trying other avenues to recover the funds, including having the DMV not allow drivers to register their vehicles until they take care of the ticket, as well as having the city’s debt collection agency go after traffic violators who haven’t paid their fine.