SAN MATEO (KPIX) -- The city of San Mateo is ditching its red light cameras and dismissing hundreds of citations after one of its cameras malfunctioned, city leaders said Thursday.
"Its overall effectiveness has plateaued over the years," said city manager Drew Corbett.
The decision was made after city staff discovered a construction project at the Saratoga and Hillsdale intersection, where there are several red light cameras, inadvertently altered the yellow timing by 0.2 seconds of one of its cameras. The city plans to dismiss or refund 985 citations that were issued between December and May.
"We did the learn that the incident was isolated and for anyone that was impacted by it we'll be contacting them directly to either dismiss their ticket or issue them a refund," Corbett said.
The program was suspended in May, when the issue was discovered. But when they took a closer look at the cameras placed at three intersections in the city they found the cameras had no impact on the number of accidents over the years.
In addition, they found that although the number of violations initially decreased when the program started, it began to level off and even increased over time. According to a city report, there were 15,898 red light violations in 2006 at the start of the program. In 2011, there were 11,692 violations reported. But then in 2018, violations jumped to 18,133.
Some residents, including John Bartolome, don't want the city to get rid of the program altogether because they believe the cameras actually slow down drivers at the busy intersections where the devices are installed.
"I think getting rid of it, it's not a good thing," Bartolome.
Kristen Connolly, who got a red light ticket herself a couple years ago, also doesn't want to see the red light cameras go.
"I just ran through, wasn't paying attention but it did teach me a lesson because it's a pretty expensive fine," she said. "I think it'd be better probably just to fix it -- make sure they function properly and put them back."
City leaders said it should take about 90 days to fully wind down the red light camera program. They said during that time no new citations will be issued.
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