BELMONT (KPIX 5) -- Citing high costs for drivers and an increase in traffic accidents, the Belmont City Council voted this week to get rid of the city's red light cameras. Two other Bay Area cities have already removed the cameras from their intersections so far this year.
After costing drivers millions of dollars over the past few years, the council voted 3-1 Tuesday night to get rid of the city's two cameras. According to officials, the cameras will be deactivated by the end of June.
"I think it is dehumanizing to a certain degree, our city," Councilmember Dave Warden told KPIX 5. He said the cameras did not make the area near Ralston Avenue, Old County Road, and El Camino Real safer. The city said the number of red light runners did not go down, and the accident rate shot up with drivers slamming on their brakes to avoid a ticket.
Earlier this year, Redwood City and Hayward have removed their cameras.
When asked if it would be the beginning of the end for red light cameras in the Bay Area, Warden said, "That's a pretty tall statement. I hope it is."
Councilmember Coralin Feierbach told KPIX 5 that she was bothered that Redflex, the Australian company that operates the cameras, is under federal investigation for bribing officials in Chicago.
"Yeah, good riddance. Goodbye Redflex. Stay in Australia," Feierbach said.
Roger Jones, a red light camera activist, said the love affair with the cameras by Bay Area cities may be ending.
"That's what Hayward found out, they found out the accidents had increased. Cameras cause more rear-enders. Violations weren't coming down. Why penalize the people for millions of dollars for a program that is not working," Jones said.
The city's contract with Redflex ends on June 30th. While the cameras will be deactivated after that date, physical removal of the cameras may take longer.
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