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City Wants to Lower Red Light Camera Fines & Reap Higher Revenues at the Same Time

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A state senate bill making its way through Sacramento has ruffled the feathers of some Los Angeles politicians. SB 949, authored by Senator Jenny Oropeza of Long Beach, would strip a local municipalities right to enact moving violations penalties, as provided in the California Vehicle Code. But with the current law, according to Councilman Dennis Zine who opposes Oropeza's legislation, it allows Los Angeles to lower the fine for running a red light intersection enforced by camera while collecting higher revenues for the city.

Currently, of over-$500 fine, the city only sees $150 because part of the money goes to the county and state. "By changing the citation process for photo red light and other traffic violations, the City could reduce fine amounts to reasonable levels for motorists while increasing the City's net revenue from these citations," Zine wrote in a resolution opposing the bill, which will go before the full City Council today.

Furthermore, he and Council President Eric Garcetti contend that cities should see the benefits, "particularly when local agencies are providing the enforcement mechanisms and equipment to enforce important traffic laws and issue violations," according to a city analysis (.pdf).

But "Senator Oropeza has stated that allowing a confusing patchwork of enforcement practices robs the state of resources for transportation," that analysis of the bill found. "She also states that tickets issued under local regulations are not reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles or the driver's insurance company, which would inhibit the State's ability to identify unsafe drivers and calculate insurance rates."