RED LIGHT CAMERAS
County of San Francisco Documents
In 2014 Sen. Corbett "termed out," and
was replaced by this person
who will be running for re-election in 2018 and 2022.
Please don't vote for him.
Send him back home to his bankruptcy
San Francisco Docs Set # 2
2017 Push for Automated Speed Cameras (Photo Radar)
In the 2017 legislative session in Sacramento there was another attempt to pass a bill approving the use of photo radar in California.
The SFMTA, the City of San Jose, and the Vision Zero Coalition are working for changes in state law to allow the automated enforcement of speeding.
There's been six previous attempts, just in the last ten years, some of which came close to being approved by the Legislature in Sacramento. Now is the time to let your legislators know that you are opposed to photo radar.
Details about the previous photo radar bills is on the Action page.
Francisco Docs Set # 3
To see some of the official reports from which the Ticket Counts table (on the main SF page) was derived, click:
Annual Summaries, 1997 - Sept. 2004
Annual Summary 2004
Annual Summary 2005
Annual Summary 2006
Annual Summary 2007
Annual Summary 2008
Annual Summary 2009
Annual Summary 2010
Annual Summary 2011
Annual Summary 2012
2013 to May
Annual Summary 2013
2014 to Oct.
Annual Summary 2014
2015 to Apr.
2015 to Nov.
2015 to Dec.
2016 to Aug.
2016 to Dec.
2017 to Apr.
2017 to May
2017 to Sept.
2018 to Apr.
San Francisco Docs Set # 4
SFMTA Red Light Camera Annual Reports - and the City Engineer - Say Most Cameras Ineffective
Highwayrobbery.net obtained these materials via public records requests.
Traffic Engineer's Letter in May 2016
From a letter highwayrobbery.net received from City Traffic Engineer Ricardo Olea in May 2016:
"You are correct that engineering changes are the most effective way to reduce red
light running crashes. We’ve had a long-standing record of improving intersection
safety through signal upgrade improvements and signal timing changes." "We are in the
process of starting a new Red Light Camera contract which will reduce the total
number of approaches being enforced in San Francisco, keeping some locations we
believe are still needed based on crash and citation history."
How did San Francisco arrive at their decision to downsize? Beginning in 2014 SFMTA staff did camera-by-camera examinations (copies at links below - as of Aug. 2018 the 2017 report was not yet available) of the effect the program had had upon accidents and found that the installation of a red light camera seldom was followed by a drop in accidents.
From the Red Light Camera Annual Report 2014
Instead, the drops occurred after engineering improvements like making the yellows longer, adding an all-red interval, the addition of an arrow for left turns, or a general upgrade to the signal.
In one instance (at 7th and Mission - see pages 11 & 12 of the 2015 report), staff conceded what one of the graphs showed, that the camera may have had no effect whatsoever.
Traffic Engineer's April 2016 Review of Locations
In April 2016 the City's traffic engineer recommended changes to the list of locations to be enforced by the future system to be installed by ATS. He recommended that three locations be removed from the list and three other locations be added.
SF Report for 2016
Title: Automated Photo Enforcement Annual Report 2016
In May 2018 the City published its third annual intersection-by-intersection examination of the effect the program had had, covering up to the end of 2016. Beginning with this new report the City charted crashes that were coded as having a primary collision factor of CVC 21453(a), violating a red light. Previously the City charted collisions reported as "broadside."
Out of the 19 intersections covered in this new report, only the cameras at 5th/Mission and Pine/Polk appear to have made a difference.
SFMTA Red Light Camera Annual Report, up to End of 2016
A Note about the 2016 and 2015 Annual Reports
The one-year-older Annual Report 2015 provides intersection-by-intersection details and dates about the engineering improvements made to the intersections while the Annual Report 2016 no longer does. The two reports are best read side by side - the later of the two reports has, properly, narrowed the focus to just those collisions caused by red light violations. See note 5 on page 2 of that report.
SF Report for 2015
Title: Automated Photo Enforcement Annual Report 2015
In March 2016 the City published its second annual intersection-by-intersection examination of the effect the camera program had had upon the incidence of broadside crashes with injury. The report showed, as did the 2014 report, that few of the City's red light cameras had had much of an effect. Out of the 24 intersections, only the cameras at 5th/Mission appear to have made a difference; at three other intersections (pages 17, 23, 27) the cameras may have made a difference.
For one of the remaining cameras (7th and Mission), the report included a prose admission of its lack of effect. (See pages 11 & 12 of the report.)
And the intersection on page 25 (Marina/Lyon) left us wondering why they installed a camera there at all.
SFMTA Red Light Camera Annual Report, up to End of 2015
SF Report for 2014
Title: Red Light Camera Annual Report 2014
The City's first annual report, covering up to the end of 2014 (published in Aug. 2015), was very detailed, but a little deceptive: It led off with an impressive-looking graph (Fig. 1) showing a dramatic decrease in crashes citywide.
That graph covered only 1999 to 2011, while the notes above it said: "Red light running collisions have shown a general decrease since the early 1990's...." (Emphasis added.) It should be noted that the first cameras came on line in late 1996.
The intersection-by-intersection charts for just the intersections having red light cameras (Figs. 2 thru 26) told a very different story than did the (Fig. 1) graph: At the vast majority of those intersections, the red light camera(s) clearly had had no beneficial effect. Instead, the times when crashes dropped followed engineering work such as making the yellows longer, adding an all-red interval (both of which are cheap to do), the addition of an arrow for left turns, or a general upgrade to the signal equipment.
SFMTA Red Light Camera Annual Report, up to End of 2014
Dec. 2014 Traffic Engineer's Evaluation of Collision Changes
In Dec. 2014 the City's traffic engineer wrote about: The future upgrade of the camera system, changes in the rates of collisions over the years, the locations which should be retained, removed or added, and the effect of recent changes in the lengths of the yellows.
Other Cities' Annual Reports
San Francisco Docs Set # 5
Some Defendants' Experiences in Court
New 3-25-05, updated 8-7-13
"After failing the trial by declaration, I did the trial de novo in SF traffic court. After roll call, they asked if anyone wanted to take traffic school and a number of people did. Just before the trials started they asked again, strongly implying this was the last chance, but stated, "After the trial, you may not be granted traffic school." Heavy! I don't know if this was so in later cases because mine was the second trial and the first one was tried in absentia.
The commissioner had the officer state her case and show the photos. She ticked off all the vital stats, where, when, etc. but said, "The driver's photo matches the stated age range and characteristics of the registered owner." Curious. She did not say anything like, "The photo of the driver and the owner of the vehicle are the same." The commissioner asked me if I wanted to question the officers statement, or the technician who was also present, or give my version of events (confess?).
I declined and went right to step one, questioning the photo of the driver. I said,"The photo is rather blurry. You must have a clear photo." The color photo original, as you pointed out, was little better than the black and white copy mailed to me. Half the face is obscured by mirror and sunglasses and the rest is so fuzzy you can't even make out what the nose looks like. The commissioner looked at the photo for a minute and said,"The face looks about as clear as a department store mannequin's. Dismissed!"
Another thing I noticed about this photo packet was the traffic light was obscured by the Gatsometer box so you couldn't see if the light was actually red though I didn't have the chance to point this out. So there I was all prepared for a hard slog and I got as far as step one! Thanks for your help. I'm glad this ordeal is finally over.
I noticed your news about automated photo radar [possibly] being on the way. Groan. Unlike the movie, I suspect our Governator [Schwarzenegger, at that time] will support this Rise of the Machines. [For more info about the speed cameras, see the Legislation section on the Action page.] As for the warning signs in San Francisco, they are a bit hard to measure as they are so high off the ground, often perched high atop a light standard so I guess we'd have to take the sign installers word for it they are the right dimensions.
The moral of this story? Drive carefully because it's the right thing to do and Big Brother is watching."
In San Francisco, the traffic court, and even the Appellate Division, are in a sad state. Read the David case, on highwayrobbery's Library page.
San Francisco Docs Set # 6
The SFMTA has a web page about the program.
Until recently the City published a history of the program. Highwayrobbery.net has an archive copy of the 2011 version of that history, which has additional information, including how and why the (statewide) fine grew to be so large.
The Superior Court has information at http://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/index.aspx?page=179
If these pages have gone away, use the archive.
San Francisco Docs Set # 7
The Contract, the Too High Price, and New Vendor (and Locations) in 2018
The City has provided the following contract documents.
Contract, Pt. 1
Contract, Pt. 2 (Appendices)
Board of Supervisors Resolution
1st Amendment (adds five cameras)
2nd Amendment (sets min. compensation for ACS' employees)
3rd Amendment (extends term to Dec. 2009)
4th Amendment (makes technical changes)
5th Amendment (extends term to Dec. 2010)
May 2011 Contract (Big File)
The three-year contract signed in May 2011 contained a provision allowing the City to cancel at any time, at its convenience.
In Appendix A of the contract, there is a provision for ten decoy cameras - which will flash and record data but (apparently) not generate tickets.
A defendant requested information about the profitability of the program, and was sent this document:
Invoices from early 2013 and late 2013 showed that the City paid Xerox $100,000 per month for the cameras, or about $2700 per month for each of the 37 cameras which were active throughout 2013.
On the April 15, 2014 agenda of the San Francisco MTA Board was a staff report recommending a contract amendment to extend the red light camera program for another two years, to expire in April 2016. The Board approved it, with no discussion.
Unfortunately, that amendment did not
include a reduction of the $2661 rent, and as a result
the City paid WAY too much during the extension.
For example: In the previous month (March 2014)
the city council of Elk Grove, California approved a
new contract which specified the following schedule of
rents for their five red light cameras.
San Francisco paid 30% too much (or more - this
is before any adjustment for economies of
scale - compared to the Elk Grove price schedule)
over the two years of the extension, $563,784
extra. To cover that extra rent, the City needed
to issue an extra 5638 tickets (assuming that the City
receives an average of $100 for each ticket issued).
But there is a way out. Section 21 of the 2011 contract allows San Francisco to cancel the program on short notice, giving the City the leverage to negotiate a better price.
In March 2016 the City signed an amendment, extending the contract to July 2017, again with no reduction in the rent.
For more information about the rents that other cities pay, and how they negotiated, see FAQ # 17.
New Vendor, New Camera Locations, More Ticketing, in Late 2018
At their meeting of July 18, 2017, the SFMTA Board of Directors approved a contract extension, to Dec. 2018. The staff report said that the purpose of the extension is to provide time for a possible change to a new vendor. The staff report did not specify who the new vendor would be - they had the option to stay with Xerox/Conduent - but it did reveal that the SFMTA was in negotiation with American Traffic Solutions (ATS).
In order to recoup its costs to install the new equipment, any new vendor will want to be paid substantially more rent than the outgoing vendor was paid, so the City could increase ticketing in order to cover the new higher rent.
At their meeting of Aug. 21, 2018 the Board voted to sign a contract with ATS. Page A-3 of the contract says* that the new vendor will install nineteen cameras: Twelve at some of the current locations and seven at the following new locations. (Also see footnotes 12 and 13 in Set # 1, the ticketing table.)
4th Sbd at Harrison
6th Sbd at Folsom
8th Sbd at Folsom
Divisadero NBd at Bush
Harrison Wbd at 4th
Park Presidio SBd at Lake
Van Ness SBd left turns at Broadway
*The page A-3 list of locations may not be final, or correct, as elsewhere in the contract (Exh. F) there are lists including some locations other than the nineteen listed on A-3.
The new vendor is ATS, which runs the cameras in Millbrae. In Millbrae 81% of the tickets are for rolling right turns, so it possible that San Francisco may begin heavy enforcement on rolling rights. But no matter what, ticketing will need to increase, a lot, in order for San Francisco to cover the rent on the brand new camera equipment. Since Sept. 2016 the SFMTA has been issuing about 250 tickets a month. Once the new equipment is working - installation is to begin in Sept. 2018 - ticketing could go back up to the levels seen before then - about 1400 tickets a month.
The Aug. 2018 Staff Report Including the Contract and Appendix A (Business Rules, Locations, Monthly Reporting Required)
The Aug. 2018 Staff Report, Contract, and ALL Appendices (214 pages, 8 MB file)
Our Aug. 2018 Letter to the Board
This list of contracts and amendments may not be up-to-date - there could be a contract or amendment later than the ones listed above.
Docs Set # 8
Judge Meeks retired in 2006, and now
works as a temporary judge. I strongly recommend
using a Peremptory Challenge to remove him from your
San Francisco Docs Set # 9
Docs Set # 11