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L.A. council debates whether to save red-light camera program

June 21, 2011 |  7:30 am

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday will discuss whether to save the city's red-light camera program, which is due to be turned off soon.

The city's Police Commission voted unanimously earlier this month to end the program. Commissioners at the time balked at the idea that the cameras -- which are installed at 32 intersections -- cost more than the revenue they generate. They also indicated they were skeptical of data provided by the Los Angeles Police Department affirming the cameras' importance.

The commissioners' action put the city in the center of a national debate over the effectiveness of the cameras. Several major cities, including Anaheim, have banned them.

Advocates of the technology say the cameras pay for themselves, but an audit last year by City Controller Wendy Greuel found that claim was inaccurate.

Council members Tony Cardenas and Bernard C. Parks had asked their colleagues to instruct the five-member Police Commission to extend the camera contract on a month-to-month basis for up to a year while additional safety studies are done.

Commissioners were irked by the action -- in particular questioning whether the council had the authority to instruct them to do something.

There was an emotional debate about the issue Friday at the City Council.

Others called it an inefficient, unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

"The cameras give us nothing but expense," said Councilman Paul Koretz.

As Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took the helm of the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Monday, the group endorsed red-light cameras as a traffic safety tool.   

The mayors' conference resolution said the cameras are valuable because they "help reduce red-light running and speed-related injuries and fatalities."


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