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Beverly Hills Seeking to Use Speed Cameras

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Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist

A few weeks ago, we reported on Senate Bill 1142, which would widen the use of enforcement cameras in California from intersections to roadways where photos and video could capture speeding cars on streets, ultimately sending the violator a ticket in the mail. Senator Dutton's office said it was a spot bill and later released a statement to highwayrobbery.net, an enforcement camera advocacy site:

"Senator Dutton will not move any bill that expands the use of red light cameras. He has voted against them... as a state legislator. [That's true - he helped to stop SB 1300 (see below).] SB 1142... is available for use by any member of the Republican caucus who would like to limit or restrict the use of red light cameras."
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While that may relieve some anti-camera folks, the heat is on once again with SB1325. This bill, submitted by Senator Sheila Kuehl, who represents parts of Ventura County, San Fernando Valley and some cities 'over the hill' such as Beverly Hills, is an attempt to allow what 1142 tries to do, but with more focus -- a pilot program in Beverly Hills.

When asked what Kuehl's motivation was, legislative aide to the Senator, Jonathan Tran, said it was a constituent request. It was Beverly Hills who wanted the bill that would allow them to initiate the state's first pilot program with speed cameras. It's been tried before too... twice, in fact. Both SB466, which the city of Los Angeles lobbied behind, and SB1300 of Beverly Hills' desire, failed up in Sacramento.

One group behind the two previous bills' failure was law enforcement. Who wants their job replaced by robots? Not rank and file cops. According to Tran, The International Association of Chiefs of Police wanted the bill to include interaction between the individual and the violator. If passed, the pilot program would allow Beverly Hills Police to place a clearly marked mobile unit with officer on the street that's been given public notice for at least 30 days and has signs warning motorists that this area could be monitored. The officer stays with the camera and marks down violators. Instead of pulling a car over, the offender gets a ticket in the mail. From one perspective, it works to get speeding decreased on streets. An officer on a motorcycle can pull three or four people over while other speeders blow by. Now with a camera, everyone gets "pulled over."

Some figures say, where used, the cameras have reduced speeding by 85-90%. With Beverly Hills being in the middle of Los Angeles, pass through traffic to avoid major arteries such as Wilshire Blvd. bleed onto local residential streets where speed surveys find an overwhelming amount of cars going 50 mph or more. Beverly Hills ensures this is not a measure to get people off their streets but to slow people down.

If passed, the bill would allow the program to exist until January 1, 2014 where an evaluation on the program would determine its future to either be law that was or law of the state.

Is this a good thing or a terrible idea? Chime in the comments section below.