To keep or not to keep the red light cameras. That is the debate that going on in several South Florida cities like Miami and Doral after a new state law will require the cities to handle their own citation appeals process, starting Monday.
Mayor Tomas Regalado said five years ago Miami "was the number one city in the United States with traffic accidents and traffic fatalities." According to Regalado, those accidents have gone down.
"Is it because of the camera?" he asked. "Maybe," he said.
Regalado said the City Commission will have to decide whether to set up its own appellate process – something that up until now was done in court – or just cancel the program and break a contract the city has until 2016 with the camera operator American Traffic Solutions.
The commission voted Thursday to suspend Miami's red light camera program, beginning on Monday, and take a look at whether it’s working or not.
City Commissioner Frank Carollo said he wonders why they just found out about the decision they have to make if the law was passed in May.
"Seeing it for the first time in the agenda as an emergency ordinance, I think realistically there should've been much better planning and the administration dropped the ball," Carollo said.
He wants to see if red light cameras really have reduced accident rates before making a decision.
City Commissioner Francis Suarez said Thursday that he wants the cameras removed altogether.
Regalado said commissioners that are now opposing the cameras voted to award the contract to ATS and never questioned them at the time.
"Have the cameras become unpopular? Yes," Regalado said. "Are we in the middle of a campaign? Yes."
In the city of Doral, Mayor Luigi Boria, who opposed the camera installation when he was a council member, is now against creating a city magistrate to handle the appeals and will ask city leaders to cancel their contract and get rid of the cameras.
"Why do we have to bring more bureaucracy to our facility and to the constituents if we really don't need that burden?" said Boria, who calls the red light camera tickets a "tax."
In Broward County, the city of Davie is suspending its program until July 17 when the council can approve its own appellate process. Doral will suspend its red light camera tickets until it makes a decision August 21.
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