Future of red-light cameras is up in the air

The red-light camera at Chilco Street and the Bayfront Expressway in Menlo Park. Google photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Menlo Park City Council last night (Oct 23) extended a contract with a company to operate its red-light cameras for six months, but the city could switch operators or stop using the devices at the end of the period.

Council members unanimously approved the extension while telling Police Chief Dave Bertini and City Attorney Bill McClure that they do not want to just automatically OK a new contract with operator RedFlex.

They instead want to ask other red-light camera operators how much they would charge the city.

The city has brought in $63,000 this year from the cameras after paying fees to RedFlex.

In 2013, the city got $84,000. Tickets cost about $500.

Both Vice Mayor Ray Mueller and Councilwoman Catherine Carlton expressed consternation with RedFlex. Operator’s woes RedFlex was caught bribing local officials in Columbus, Ohio, and Chicago to get city contracts.

Former Redflex CEO Karen Finley was sentenced by a federal judge to serve 30 months in prison in the Illinois case and 14 months in the Ohio case. She’s also been ordered to pay $2 million in restitution.

The council also asked for the future report on red-light cameras to say how effective they have been in reducing accidents and why the city ought to continue with the program.

Concerns about cameras Resident Cherie Zaslawsky said there are concerns in town regarding the corruptness of the company and how long the data the devices collect is stored.

Complete Streets Commissioner Adina Levin said the cameras improve safety for pedestrians in the community.


  1. I think it’s all about the money.

    The City’s red light cam ticketing jumped in May 2018, to the highest since Jan. 2009, and in June, July and August 2018 it was higher yet. The ticketing in that May – August period:

    A. Was 66% higher than the ticketing seen in January – April 2018.

    B. Was 55% higher than the average ticketing seen in May – August of 2016 and May – August of 2017.

    C. If continued through December 2018 will produce 8107 tickets in 2018, 37% higher than in 2017.

    D. If continued in 2019 will produce 9351 tickets by the end of that year, 58% higher than in 2017.

    A possible explanation of why the ticketing went up in May is this March 15, 2018 email from MPPD Commander Dixon to Traffic Sergeant Mackdanz:

    “According to the current budget information our Redflex numbers are way down year to date. I’m trying to determine if this is due to one installation being lower than the rest or if the lower numbers are across the board.

    “Please have Deborah contact Redflex and get a fiscal year (16/17 vs 17/18) to date comparison of each installation.


    (sig) “Commander William A. Dixon”

    (That email was obtained legally, via a public records request.)

  2. California once had 103 active red light camera contracts, almost entirely for the profits. As residents are increasingly aware the only real goal for the cameras is profits, public opposition has become overwhelming in many CA communities. There are now only 29 active red light camera contracts, with several like this one in Menlo Park under serious consideration for being ended.

    Note there are now five guilty pleas or verdicts in federal Reflex-related indictments for fraud, bribery or extortion in just two states. Former Redflex officials say there are similar issues of corruption in more than twelve states. NO CITY should deal with Reflex – given the history of felonious behavior – regardless of claims to have cleaned house.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

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