Mayor Filner ends red light photo enforcement in San Diego


San Diego Mayor Bob Filner fulfilled a campaign promise Feb. 1 and officially ended the city’s controversial Red Light Photo Enforcement Program, bringing San Diego Police Department officers back to red light violation patrol.

Standing with San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, the mayor made the announcement at what was the busiest red light camera intersection in the City, Grape Street and North Harbor Drive, just a mile from the San Diego International Airport.

The Mayor and Chief watched as city crews removed the enforcement warning signs at the intersection, where many visitors and residents drive through while leaving the airport for other destinations. The intersection produced more than 30 percent of all citations issued when the photo enforcement program was active.

The Mayor allowed the city’s current contract to expire and chose not to renew or issue a new contract to continue the program.

“Until midnight last night this system used robotic technology to capture unsuspecting motorists in the San Diego version of a traffic trap,” said the Mayor. “This is not the way to enforce the traffic laws or teach people about the traffic laws. The best deterrent is a police officer, writing citations and talking to citizens.”

“I have listened to residents who are angry and confused about the reliability of this system. I have heard from traffic engineers about accident statistics and changing traffic patterns on our roadways. And, I have listened carefully to Chief Lansdowne as he described the training, knowledge and discretion his officers bring to enforcing traffic laws,” said the mayor. “These cameras are history on San Diego city streets.”

Program Facts:

When did the program first begin?

The first red light photo enforcement cameras in the City of San Diego became operational in August 1998.

How many tickets were issued while the program was in effect?

There were three contracts since 1998. The city does not have detailed citation numbers for each. The first contract expired in June 2001 and the unverified number of citations is listed as 83,931. The second contract ran from June 2003 to Jan. 1, 2008 and the unverified number of citations was approximately 33,990. The third contract from May 14, 2008 through Jan. 31, 2013 and the number of citations issued on this contract through December, 2012, is approximately 78,113.

What will happen to all the cameras and equipment?

The cameras and equipment will be removed from the 15 intersections currently in operation

How many intersections in San Diego had the cameras and which had the most violations?

There were 15 intersections and the one with the most was Grape Street and North Harbor Drive.

What happens if a driver receives a ticket in the mail after the 31st, but the photo was taken prior to the program expiring?

If a citation has been issued, the driver will need to respond to the court.

--Staff Reports