Murrieta voters pull plug on red light cameras

An 18-month, nearly single-handed push by a Murrieta resident has prompted voters to pull the plug on red-light traffic cameras that have operated for years in the city.

“I do feel like David and Goliath on this,” said Diana Serafin, who launched a drive to put the controversial ticketing cameras on a city ballot. “It’s a victory for the citizens and I am excited about that.”

Nearly 67 percent of the city voters favored Measure N, which called for ending and banning the ticketing program. Murrieta will now join Houston, Loma Linda, Anaheim, Albuquerque and more than a dozen other cities across the nation in banning the devices. Efforts are also under way to limit or remove cameras in Riverside, San Diego and other cities.

Serafin, who had attracted about six helpers, has cited concerns that drivers are unable to effectively challenge the tickets in court. She also criticized the rapid rise in ticket fines, which have climbed to $490 and are split with the state and the courts.

“It’s all about the revenue, not our safety,” she said in a Wednesday morning telephone interview.

Camera proponents have countered those arguments by saying the devices prevent traffic collisions. They also contend that the fines are “revenue neutral” for cities because police must review the identified violations and appear in court if drivers dispute the tickets.

Serafin said she and her group spent about $2,200 proposing, promoting and defending the measure from legal challenges. She said foes of the measure spent about $105,000 on court, attorney and campaign costs.

Voter approval of the camera ban further cements Murrieta’s reputation as a city where residents have used ballot measures to shape municipal policy. Council recall bids have surfaced periodically and voters overwhelmingly approved measures that imposed council term limits and created pay caps for elected officials and the city manager.

Temecula took the lead in examining the use of red-light cameras in March 2000, which is when city traffic commissioners expressed support for the concept. But fears of high costs prompted the Temecula City Council to abandon the red-light camera option in August 2003. At that time, city staff estimated that it would cost more than $600,000 over a two-year period to place cameras at several key intersections.

About that time, Murrieta and many other cities throughout Riverside County began studying and, in some cases, installing the devices that photograph drivers’ faces and license plates during traffic violations.

Murrieta’s decision to proceed while its neighbors did not landed the city at the center of the local debate over the contested law enforcement tool. The city stationed two red light cameras at key intersections on Murrieta Hot Springs Road east of Interstate 215 and another at Nutmeg Street and Clinton Keith Road.

Serafin said she hopes the election outcome – which must formally be endorsed by the Murrieta City Council – has erased any doubts over her determination to go the distance.

“Once I take something up I’m tenacious,” she said. “I’m like a dog with a bone.”

5 Responses to "Murrieta voters pull plug on red light cameras"

  1. What'sinthewater?   November 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Wow, a perfect example of "cognitive disonance". The first family that sues Serafin after losing a loved one in a "running the redlight" accident will realign her reality with the true reality of what her tenacity has wrought. Anarchists and authority haters will always vote against the rule of law. I’m glad I don’t live in Murrietta.

  2. James C. Walker   November 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Diana Serafin was the "David" and her "slingshot" accurately brought down ATS and the other camera supporters.

    Red light cameras ARE about money, not safety.

    Hopefully the City Council will honor the vote of the people without any nasty court fights to try to block the results of the vote.

    Congratulations to Diana and everyone who helped.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  3. Henry   November 11, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    For WhatsInTheWater:

    If someone brings suit because of an accident, the suit will be against the city, for they are the deep pockets. And, the suit will not be for removing the cameras, but for the city’s failure to fix the intersections’ obvious flaws, one of those being the lack of "signal ahead" painted on the pavement.

    In July Grand Terrace removed its cameras, in September eleven cameras were removed from Riverside, all cameras were out of Corona as of last week, soon will be out of Murrieta, and in June Riverside voters will probably vote to remove the 18 cameras remaining there. But cameras will remain in many other cities, so here is how to cope:

    Everyone in California needs to know about Snitch Tickets, which are fake/phishing red light camera tickets sent out by the police in an effort to fool the registered owner into identifying the actual driver of the car. (In SoCal, Bakersfield, Corona, Del Mar, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, Garden Grove, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Laguna Woods, Los Alamitos, Oceanside, Poway, Riverside, Santa Ana, Santa Clarita, Solana Beach, South Gate, Victorville and Vista use them.) Snitch tickets have not been filed with the court, so they don

  4. James C. Walker   November 12, 2012 at 8:46 am

    For What’sinthewater

    Henry is correct that any lawsuits would be versus the city itself for dangerous engineering errors.

    The real problem with cameras is that they require improper and less-safe engineering of the traffic lights to be profitable. Please read the Red Light Cameras link on our website to see the research showing that correct length yellows and other simple and low cost engineering fixes are FAR more effective to reduce red light violations than ticket cameras. In almost every case, when the engineering errors are corrected the violations drop so far the cameras are removed as both unnecessary and unprofitable.

    The real answer is a statewide ban on red light cameras so cities have no temptations to engineer for profit instead of for safety. People can see the lists of states and cities that ban or have dropped cameras at

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association,

  5. John Travis   November 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Let get real here folks. I counted 8 camera some hidden by trees at the corner of whitewood/murrieta hot spring road. Clearly a ticket trap for revenues not for safety.
    Well this time the citizens won and yeah it was like david and goliath but we did it. Remember "we" pay your wages (city) and we all knew it was a scam from day one. Way to Diana Serafin! You did it!
    It’s people like you that bring media attention to the unjustice. I have been living in murrieta for 12 years and I am so glad. Another thing when there is no HOA fees in a neighbor hood. why are citation for grass and broken sprinkers? Get the criminals not the citizens. That is the next issue on the agenda. No Hoa no tickets. Power to the people..


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