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Menlo Park red light cams - Contract Expiring

From: domainremoved <Jim>
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2018 14:30:25 -0700

8-6-18 (re-sent on 9-17-18, with address correction)

Subject: Red Light Cameras - Contract Expiring

Venue: Possible Upcoming Council Meeting

Honorable Mayor and Councilmembers:

The amount of the rent you agree to pay to Redflex is important because
it puts pressure on staff to keep
ticketing up.

    MPPD internal correspondence obtained via a public records request

I and others came to a council meeting five years ago (8-20-13) and -
well after midnight - suggested
that the new Redflex contract you were about to vote upon would have you
pay way too much
for the red light cameras. You took our advice - to an extent - and by
the next council meeting had
renegotiated to obtain a 9% discount, saving the City $107,400 which - I
believe - saved 1074 motorists
from getting a ticket.

Three years ago I wrote to you (copy below) and suggested that it might
be time to negotiate again. Had
you taken that suggestion you could have saved as much as $424,800 (and
the need to issue 4248 tickets).
But you did not renegotiate - you continued to pay the 2013 rent of
$4950 even though, with four of the
camera installations about to turn seven years old in Summer 2015 you
might have been able to obtain a
price close to the Elk Grove price of $2000.

My copy of the contract you approved in 2013 says it is to expire at the
end of this month. Per 2018 invoices
I received this April, you still were paying $4950. By now the contract
may have been extended a year or
more, but if Section 6.1 hasn't been changed or removed, you still have
the ability to cancel/suspend on short
notice, to give yourselves the opportunity to get a better price. Which
will cut the number of tickets you
need to issue in order to break even - or could allow you to reduce the
amount of the fine for a right turn.

_Can the City Reduce the Right Turn Fine?_

In 2016 66% of the City's camera tickets were for right turns. (In 2015
it was 38%.) Many people think that
a City cannot reduce the $500.00 fine for right turns, but the City of
Los Angeles was able to cut the fine in
half by citing under CVC 21453(b), which has a considerably lower base
fine than does 21453(a). Menlo
Park can easily afford to reduce the fine, as in the typical month the
program nets the City substantially
more than the cost to operate it; in May the monthly remittance (see
attached) from the court to the City
was $58,347 while the (way too high) monthly rent you paid to Redflex
($26,000) was less than half of that.

_Have Cameras Made Us Safer?__
I want to pass along a Case Western study which came to national
attention via a July 19 article in phys
(dot) org. The study was published (posted) in the Social Science
Research Network on November 30 last
year. The authors made an in-depth statistical analysis - with
"controls" - of the camera programs in Houston
(which shut its cameras down in 2012) and Dallas and found, "... the
cameras changed the composition of
accidents, but *no evidence of a reduction in total accidents or
injuries*." (Abstract, page 1 of the pdf of
the study, emphasis added.) The study further found, "... the model
suggests that *the camera program led
to a **decrease in social welfare*." (Page 5 of the pdf of the study,
line 5, emphasis added.) (The study is a
large file so I have not attached it here. It is available on the
University's website; Google the title, Criminal
Deterrence when there are Offsetting Risks: Traffic Cameras, Vehicular
Accidents, and Public Safety.)

When it comes to statistics I am a lay person, but even I have noticed
that when the subject is red light
cameras and the number of collisions at a particular location over the
years or before and after cameras,
often the staff report is missing a control group such as a comparison
with other intersections. The
importance of having a control group was highlighted out by a report
commissioned in 2016 by the City of
San Leandro (a Redflex client), in which the engineer concluded:

     "After reviewing over 13 years of collision data for the two
intersections, our findings are
     inconclusive with regards to an ARLE [red light camera] reducing

     "For whatever reason, it appears that the injury plus fatality
collision rate at signalized intersections
     (with or without ARLE) has decreased dramatically over the most
recent nine year period (when
     compared to the previous nine year period). *ARLE cannot take
credit for this reduction, because**
** the collision rate decreased more at signalized intersections
without ARLE*." (Emphasis

    The San Leandro report is a large file so has not been attached
    here. It is available at a link on the
    San Leandro Docs page at the website highwayrobbery (dot) net.

You probably know that other California cities have ended their camera
programs. (29 programs remain
out of the 103 that once operated.) Attached is a compilation of
comments made by police chiefs, city
managers, firemen and councilmembers in cities having a collective 200
years of experience with red
light cameras. (The attachment has "Candor" in the file name.)


1. The rent and the fine for a rolling right are both too high and the
safety argument is weak; the camera
program needs close examination before any further extension.

2. If staff's plan is to make public its detailed argument in favor of
cameras no earlier than the weekend
before the Council meeting at which the matter is to be decided, or even
to wait until the time of the
meeting and do a PowerPoint or verbal presentation, I am concerned that
doing so would have the
effect of defeating any in-depth analysis by the public or the press. I
am sure you want such input, so I
ask that you please publish any new staff report well ahead of time so
that the public and the press can
have more than a weekend to read it and comment.

3. The City should have its safety stats done by a professional with
credentials in the field of statistics
and who is independent of other ties or contracts with the City.


Jim Lissner
(jim at vivahermosa dot com)

Previous email, from 2015

Subject: Red light cams - save $424,800 for the City, or 4248 tickets
to Menlo Park motorists
Date: Sat, 07 Feb 2015 14:59:45 -0800
From: Jim
To: editor_at_(domainremoved)


Honorable Menlo Park Mayor and Councilmembers:

In March 2014 Elk Grove, California - also a Redflex customer - approved
a new contract which specified the following schedule of rents for their
five cameras.

*Table from Exh. D of the Elk Grove Contract, full document available at
highwayrobbery [dot] net*

*In Aug. 2013 Menlo Park agreed to pay $4950 for cameras that were then
five years old, so will pay 72% too much (compared to the Elk Grove
price schedule) over the five years of the extension it agreed to,
$497,184 extra. To cover that excessive rent, Menlo Park will need to
issue an extra 4972 tickets (assuming that the City receives an average
of $100 for each ticket issued).

But there is a way out. ****At the Aug. 2013 meeting you did not delete
the unusual requirement for a 4/5 vote to cancel on short notice, but
provided that after Feb. 15, 2015 only a 3/5 vote would be required (see
Section 6.1 of the contract).** Thus, starting next week, a simple
majority can vote to cancel the program so that the City can, if it
wishes, negotiate a better price.* *(If the City is able to negotiate
the $2000 "Elk Grove" price for the Aug. 2015 - Aug. 2018 portion of the
extension, it will save $424,800, and 4248 tickets.) *

*FAQ # 17 at highwayrobbery [dot] net has more information about other
cities' contracts, how much they pay - and how they negotiated their low


Jim Lissner

cc: Media

 Viva Hermosa !

Received on Mon Sep 17 2018 - 14:29:42 PDT

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