Traffic light issue or red light runners?, reader asks

Dear Street Smarts, Q: I've noticed that the timing of the green/red lights at this intersection has been off for the last few weeks. Every time I am at a stop on Water at Ocean streets, going north toward the Town Clock, and the light turns green, there are still plenty of cars making a left turn onto Ocean Street. If someone was to 'jump the gun' on Water, they could easily hit a car making the left hand turn onto Ocean. Please look into this before there is an accident. Barbara Burke via email A: A Santa Cruz public works crew will take a look at it, but “my experience is that motorists are consistently entering the intersection during the yellow phase and sometimes into the red,” said Chris Schneiter, civil engineer with the department. Streets Smarts posed your question to Santa Cruz Police Capt. Steve Clark, while also asking about the possibility of installing a red light camera to catch violators. Below is his response. “We actually studied the possibility of red light cameras and concluded they would not be advantageous.    “Red light cameras still require staff time to manage, maintain and monitor. Red light cameras do not perform with consistent reliability. They oftentimes miss red light runners, and falsely capture others. Processing and reviewing the 'violators' requires a police officer to review the photos, send out the citation, and store the data. This would require a full-time police officer position dedicated to this function. With our current staffing levels, we do not have the luxury of assigning an officer for that function and we would rather have that officer out in the field working. “The equipment is expensive and does not always pay for itself with fines generated. Additionally, the companies that operate and sell these systems, take an ongoing percentage of the violation fines generated by the camera. In our opinion, this arrangement dances too close the ethical line. Law enforcement should never be used as a profit-making entity. Using it in this manner opens the door to creating a perception of impropriety. Obviously, we don’t want to create that perception. “For these reasons, we steered away from red light cameras. If it is an enforcement issue, we will have our traffic officers monitor the intersection and enforce as time allows.”
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