Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Gruel has done it again — exposing enormous waste in yet another city department. However, in a Reverse Kafka-esque twist, this time it is motorists who are finally getting the upper hand when it comes to the insidious $446 red light camera citations.
Not only did Ms. Gruel say there was insufficient evidence that the cameras reduced accidents, but she questioned whether they had even been placed at the most dangerous intersections. Having seen many of these cameras peppered about the city, I have more than once wondered why certain intersections were chosen since they do not appear to be ones where accidents might understandably occur often.
However, the real lunacy of this program is that Los Angeles Superior Court judges have ruled that the citations are unenforceable. The successful legal argument was that because a human being did not actually hand the citation to the offender that the citation was not properly served.
If the citation is not legally served, then there is no crime to enforce. So people in Los Angeles County can ignore the citations with no repercussions. That’s right — drivers actually do get off scot-free. Yeah, you get sent to a collections agency, but even then there is no civil suit possible because no crime has been committed because no service was performed. Nor can the agency report your lack of payment to a credit agency or the DMV. Meanwhile, dozens of other court cases have made the camera enforcement a farce statewide.
Apparently, word of this has leaked out because 45% of the citations remain unpaid. So the entire program has cost the City of Los Angeles $2.6 million, the burden of which falls on the taxpayer. So what does the City of Los Angeles plan to do?
Renew the contract with the company that runs the red light cameras! That’s right, they will continue a money-losing proposition. Why? Get this — from the Asst. LAPD Chief Michael Moore. He says that the department relies on honesty of individuals who receive the tickets to pay them.
That statement is ironic considering LAPD Chief Charlie Beck isn’t standing up to City Hall regarding overzealous enforcement of minor traffic violations to close the City’s budget deficit.
So while it isn’t physically safe to run those red lights, let it be known that in the County of Los Angeles, it isn’t so dangerous to your pocketbook.