haven't already done so, please read the Costa Mesa section on
the Camera Towns page.
Costa Mesa Chronology
City of Costa Mesa,
Costa Mesa, pop. 110,000, is
immediately north of Newport Beach, in Orange County.
This page contains details of trials of Costa Mesa
Ticket counts and signal timing for Costa Mesa's cameras are
at: Costa Mesa
May 27, 2004, Costa Mesa:
Yellow Too Short
On April 5 a defendant
emailed me that the signal for northbound Newport Blvd. at 17th in
Costa Mesa had a yellow of 3.6 seconds, while it should have been
longer - 4.3 seconds - in keeping with the posted speed limit of
(For an explanation of the law regarding the length of the yellow,
see Defect # 2 on the Home Page.)
That defendant received his ticket in late
December. He measured the yellow by using a video camera (see
the Measuring the Yellow section on the Your Ticket page), and
then, in January, requested the official signal timing chart from
the local CalTrans office. He received the chart in late
February. Here is part of that chart, showing the length of
the yellow phase.
(Excerpt from Newport/17th CalTrans chart. For
full chart, see: Costa
defendant pled not guilty, and at his trial session in late May his
ticket was dismissed by the police before the case was called, with
no explanation as to why. (They're not required to
explain.) He never got a chance to show the timing chart to
the judge. In the courthouse hallway after that session, I
asked Sgt. Andersen of the Costa Mesa police department what the
City was going to do about the other tickets previously issued
there. He replied that any action would be up to his
This Costa Mesa section of highwayrobbery.net was started shortly
Costa Mesa (cont'd), June 7, 2004: No Official
By June 7 the City had made no announcement about the
I phoned them. On June 9 they called me back and told me that
they would come to a decision within two weeks.
(cont'd), June 10, 2004: Big Refund!
On June 10 the City of Costa Mesa issued a press
release indicating that it would be asking the court
to reverse all convictions, provide refunds of fines, and dismiss
any unresolved citations, for red light camera violations that
occurred at northbound Newport/17th prior to Feb. 12. (They
said it would not apply to southbound tickets.)
The press release did not mention refunds for
Community Service, traffic school fees, increased insurance
premiums, or lost wages. If you did Community
Service in lieu of paying your fine, you probably will not
automatically be receiving a
check. You should file a claim with the City - for at
least the $326 value of your labor, plus the Community Service
registration fee. If you went to traffic school, lost time
from work, or experienced higher insurance premiums as a result of
your ticket (and your insurer will not refund the
increase), you should file a claim for that too.
I have posted an easy-to-use claim form
The June 12 LA
Times carried an article with the headline "Error Slams Traffic Tickets
Into Reverse," and another short article on the 17th.
See: Costa Mesa
Costa Mesa (cont'd), June 26, 2004: Yellow
Short - Left Turns
Costa Mesa's yellows for left turns are less than their
straight ahead movements.
See Defect # 2 on the Home page.
(cont'd), June 27, 2004: Ticket Counts Available
Intersection-by-intersection and month-by-month ticket counts for
Costa Mesa's cameras are now available
here: Costa Mesa
Costa Mesa (cont'd), July 7, 2004: Blackout on
Refunds for Community
As of July 7 the City website (see link
at: Costa Mesa
Documents) contained new information about
Newport/17th, but still no mention of refunds for Community
Service, increased insurance premiums, traffic school fees paid to
schools outside Orange County, or lost wages. Nor were these
refunds mentioned in a News Pilot article published July 7.
Costa Mesa (cont'd), July 29, 2004: Details of
I attended the July 29 trial session. Half of the
dismissed. More details are in Set # 9
of Costa Mesa
(cont'd), Aug. 6, 2004: Full Scope of Changes to Signal
On June 24 I made a public records request to CalTrans for the
current signal timing charts for Newport / 17th and Newport /
19th. (The signals are maintained by CalTrans as Newport
Blvd. is a State highway.) The charts arrived on Aug. 6 and
revealed that there were many more changes made than just a
lengthening of the yellow for northbound Newport / 17th. For
full details, see the footnotes at the bottom of Set # 6
of Costa Mesa
(cont'd), Aug. 9, 2004: Request to Discontinue Camera at
Newport / 17th Left
See the letter in Set # 10 of Costa Mesa
The letter also reveals a near-doubling of rear-enders there
the camera went in.
Costa Mesa (cont'd), Oct. 14, 2004: Who To
To . . .
The most recent figures show that "violations recorded" at
19th are still high. Clearly the length of the yellow needs to be
increased. To bring pressure on CalTrans (they control the signal
timing) I recommend calling the state legislators where you live, and
also those who represent Costa Mesa. The phone numbers for the
legislators representing Costa Mesa are below. Your local phone
book will have the numbers for the assemblymember and state senator who
represent your home town, or you can find them by using the automated
locator at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html
Costa Mesa Representatives:
Assemblymember Ken Maddox (714) 668-2100 or (916) 319-2068
Senator Ross Johnson (949) 833-0180 or (916) 445-4961
Costa Mesa (cont'd), Feb. 2005 Trial Session:
Many Tickets Dismissed
Here is a note from a defendant
"And thank you for all your help and the time you took to
reply to my correspondence. I did beat my red light ticket....
All I did was plead not guilty and on the day of the court took a
similar looking 2nd cousin's picture with me. Also I took
pictures of the Anton and Bristol intersection. However, I was
not even given a chance to give my defense. Judge Odriozola came
out and read a list of people whose tickets would be dismissed and I
was one of them. I was relieved! I guess they could not see
my picture very well. Thanks again and keep up the good work,
maybe someday these illegal red light cameras will go away."
There's another possible
reason why all those defendants' tickets were dismissed. See the
Feb. 11 entry, below.
Costa Mesa (cont'd), Feb. 11, 2005: Cameras Suspended
for a Month, or More
in the Feb. 12 Orange County Register and the Feb. 15 LA Times said
that Costa Mesa is
suspending, for 30 days, the use of three of its four cameras (all but
the one at Harbor and Adams). [Ticket counts received in late
April indicate that in the month of March, the Newport Blvd. cameras
did not operate at all - so it is possible that they have been
suspended for more than just 30 days.] In Jan. 2005 an appellate
court found (in People
Fischetti) that the City should have issued warning tickets
30 days upon the installation of each new camera but didn't (Defect #
6), and that
it should not have allowed a separate
government agency (CalTrans) to set and control the timing of the
signals (see Defect # 10 on the Home page). That appellate
decision could affect all the tickets issued thus
far at those three intersections. An article in the Feb. 12 Daily
Pilot said the City says it is not going to do a refund on tickets
already issued. So, if you want a dismissal or a refund, you will
have to plead not guilty and contest your ticket. I have posted a
new Trial by Declaration form, at the bottom of the Your
Ticket page, so that you can fight your ticket without having to attend
a trial in person.
This appellate decision could
affect thousands of tickets in
other cities, too.
Costa Mesa (cont'd), Feb. 23, 2005: The City
According to an article in the Feb. 23 Register, the City has decided
to appeal Judge Margines' decision.
Costa Mesa (cont'd), March 16, 2005: Appeal
Rejected, City Goes to Supreme Court
According to an article in the March 16 Register, the Fourth District
Court of Appeals has rejected the City's appeal, so the City is taking
the case to the California Supreme Court.
Costa Mesa (cont'd), May 11, 2005: Fischetti Wins
On May 11, 2005 the Supreme Court denied the City's petition to review;
so, the decision in favor of appellant Fischetti, and against the City
of Costa Mesa, is final.
If you want to fight your ticket using the warning tickets issue, see
the sample Trial by Declaration, at the bottom of the Your Ticket page.
Costa Mesa (cont'd), Aug. 11, 2005: New Speed
Surveys Could Be "In the Bag"
On Aug. 11 CalTrans put bags over the cameras at Newport and 19th and
17th, just for the day, while they were conducting a new speed
survey. The speed survey will determine whether the speed limits
need to be changed. If the speed limits are lowered, they will be
able to shorten the length of the yellow lights. They might not
automatically do so, but the lower limit would allow them to do so if
CalTrans' reason for bagging the cameras doubtlessly was honorable;
they didn't want the threat of a camera ticket to influence driver's
speeds during the survey. But I think the presence of the
bags will cause people to be curious and slow down and look, and could
have more of an effect than the presence of unbagged cameras. I
have just written to CalTrans to make that point - but they might
ignore a comment from just one person. If you want to call them
too, their # is (949) 724-2000.
Costa Mesa (cont'd),
Sept. 1, 2005: Still in the Bag!
On Sept. 1, I got a reply
from CalTrans about the bagged cameras - see Aug. 11 entry, above.
Deputy District Director James
for covering the red light cameras during the data collection portion
of the Speed Zone Survey is for compliance with Section 2B.116 of
the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices 2003 California
Supplement. Among other things, the Engineering and Traffic
Survey portion of this section stipulates that "The speed of traffic
should not be altered by concentrated law enforcement, or other means,
just prior to, or while taking the speed measurements." We
consider the red light cameras to be concentrated law enforcement and
the City of Costa Mesa agreed to shut down this enforcement during the
period of speed data collection."
the receipt of Mr.
Pinheiro's letter, I wrote to overall CalTrans Director Will Kempton,
in Sacramento, and asked him to look into the matter. I sent that
letter on Sept. 1. As of Oct. 24, Mr. Kempton still had not
replied. His # is
(cont'd): More Coming
There may be some more Costa Mesa
developments. If you got a red light
camera ticket in Costa Mesa, mark your calendar to remind you to
come back here and look!
RED LIGHT CAMERAS