Redmond City Council Plans to End Contract With Red-Light Camera Vendor

After a lengthy discussion at Tuesday's study session, the Redmond City Council is poised to vote on legislation that would end its contract with American Traffic Solutions.

The Redmond City Council took the first step Tuesday toward ending a contract with the city's red-light camera vendor, saying data gathered during the first eight months of a camera pilot program fail to show a significant impact on safety.

Council members asked city staff to prepare a motion to cancel the city's contract with American Traffic Solutions. Tentative plans call for a vote on the matter at the regular Nov. 1 meeting.

The decision to move forward with canceling the contract came as the released the latest data on the camera program, including number of violations and collisions at the city's three red-light camera enforced intersections and one speed-camera enforced school zone area.

Overall, the number of citations that were issued fell slightly over the past several months, from 2,258 citations in April to 2,053 in September. The number of violations that were rejected by the reviewing police officer, however, increased from 298 in April to 404 in September.

With those rejections factored in, the number of infractions the camera vendor captured and sent to Redmond Police for review dropped by just 99 in that same six-month period.

Police Chief Ron Gibson said the variation in rejections by both the reviewing officer and camera vendor American Traffic Solutions over the past eight months make it difficult to extrapolate conclusions from the data.

"When you, for lack of a better term, smooth those numbers out with rejections versus the total events and citations that were actually issued, there's a slight reduction but it is not significant," Gibson said.

Meanwhile, the total number of collisions at the three red-light camera enforced intersections has increased slightly, from 25 in January through September of both 2009 and 2010 to 30 during that same nine-month period in 2011. The number of rear-end collisions at those intersections, however, has remained relatively the same, dropping from 15 in 2010 to 14 in 2011.

Council member Kimberly Allen said negative public input on the program makes it especially difficult to overlook the lack of data showing the cameras have had an impact on safety.

"We have data that's inconclusive...is it enough to offset the community message that we've heard about this?" Allen said. "As I see it, I don't think it is. So I'm not in favor of continuing at this point with the program for the red-light cameras."

But Allen and several other city council members said they were pleased with the effectiveness of the speed camera located on Northeast 116th Street near . Allen said she would like to explore the possibility of finding another vendor to continue the speed camera program, which could also be expanded to other school zones in Redmond.

Council President Richard Cole and other council members also said they want to leave open the option of continuing a red-light camera program on an intersection-by-intersection basis with another vendor in the future. Cole said having the framework in place to pursue those two options will be a critical factor in whether he decides to vote to end the contract with ATS.

"I will support what you guys are going for because I think it's the right way to go, but only if the other motions are coming along," he said.

Camera-enforced warnings and citations

Avondale Rd / Union Hill Rd NE 40th St / 156th Ave NE Redmond Way / 148th Ave NE NE 116th St at Einstein Elementary February (warning period) 859 499 1,093 139 March 769 599 965 129 April 666 555 941 96 May 644 499 183* 107 June 688 508 20* 79** July 439 326 190* 0** August 440 380 384 0** September 747 528 669 109

*The camera at Redmond Way and 148th Ave NE experienced an equipment malfunction during these months that contributed to a decrease in citations.
**The camera at Einstein Elementary was turned off after June 22, when the school year ended.

Source: Redmond Police Department

Editor's note: The city sent out a news release Wednesday afternoon that contained stronger language about the city council's intentions regarding red-light cameras. This story was revised at 6:30 p.m. to include the new information.

Redmond October 13, 2011 at 08:45 PM
GUESS WHAT PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you just follow the LAW and not run red lights, the issue would just GO AWAY!!!!!!!!! Apparently that is just too simple. BUT the bottom line is this, we can not hold a special election every time you think you know better. You voted in folks to represent YOU. This is not NEW and yet none of you are running for city council or for the mayors office. So go out and make a difference or stop wasting tax payer dollars on elections so you can speed and run red lights! JUST STOP RUNNING THEM and the lights will go away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I personally can not wait for them to end so the Redmond Police can give you a REAL ticket and then maybe you will learn! I will gladly put up with the traffic jams from police cars pulling people over thousands of times a month per intersection. Bring it on!!!
Mike October 14, 2011 at 02:11 AM
I guess my question to those who support this program - how far do we go with enforcement cameras? Why limit it to traffic when you can catch litterbugs with them? Or perhaps jaywalkers? Do you really want automated electronic government surveilance of your behavior in public? Even for petty crimes like littering and free rights on red? Is that the hallmark of a free society? Though I guess adding exclamation marks at the end of sentences always adds credibility to what someone has to say.
Catherine Wittel October 14, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Hi Mike. I think the two examples you give about enforcement cameras being extended to other areas such as litterbugs, which is not a public safety issue. The jaywalker is risking his/her own life not threatening the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. Also, I agree with you that the right to privacy is an issue, and people have that right, but cars do not and the camera is on the car, not the driver. In fact, the owner of the car gets the ticket. It doesn't matter who is driving. I suppose this conversation is moot in that the council has voted to discontinue the contract on the red light cameras. Interesting perspectives from all, and sharing your perspective is appreciated.
Redmond October 14, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Catherine, perfect reply, thank you! Mike, Wow you do realize almost every store has surveillance cameras, the gas stations also and your ATM at your bank. We live in the year 2011 and if you have a cell phone you most likely can be found, if you use a credit card the police can track down where you have been. I am sure you must know this. Here we go again back to the reason for all of this. If people would not run lights and take what is not theirs, once again “breaking the laws” of our country we would not need these extreme measures. You said SOFT RED, what is a soft red? Now I am guessing you mean rolling into a right hand turn on a red and just going. Maybe you need to go back and read the WA state drivers guide and take a test with an instructor and try a SOFT RED on them and see if you pass. It is a RED light, not yellow, not green, but a RED light. Red means STOP in this country. Maybe you need to realize you are wrong, that is your problem. Yes the cameras are going away but the police are not and I hope you understand this before you get a moving violation. I am guessing the judges are not going to be kind to those who run red lights at those intersections. Good luck and I hope there is never a situation where your carefree thoughts of the law get you or anyone hurt. Honestly, my goal in life is to live and yet be safe and respectful of others, I would not run a red and put you in harms way, I would hope you would not do the same to me. Susan
Douglas Neal October 18, 2011 at 05:25 PM
Good article. Nice coverage. And I appreciate the thoughtful replies. One aspect that isn't mentioned or covered in the meeting is that some consumers now avoid the Target, Kohl's, Fred Meyer and Home Depot at the end of 520 in favor of visits to other locations of those stores since the red light camera at 520 and Union Hill was installed. The fact that it flashes for 'near misses' or questionable 'soft stop' situations is enough to drive a few people away from that intersection and the adjacent stores altogether. It would be interesting, although difficult to quantify, how much business is lost to those Redmond locations due to these people, nervous enough about getting a ticket - even if they fully stop - who now avoid those locations for doing business.


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