New red-light camera in Marysville riles man
Starting at the end of the month, motorists who roll through the red light at 10th and Ramirez streets in Marysville can expect to receive a citation in the mail.
It is the fifth red light camera installed in Marysville since 2005, and while city authorities credit the cameras for sharply reducing injury traffic collisions, many residents oppose them, especially at that intersection.
"I don't see how they can justify a camera there because that light hasn't been there long enough to have many problems," said Frank Arostegui, a Linda resident who added he avoids going through all Marysville intersections with cameras.
Installed last week, the new camera is fully operational, but citations will not be issued until after May 30. However, red light violators will receive "warning notices" between now and that date, police said.
Many local residents have opposed the cameras. Arostegui called it "a money-making scheme for the city."
"That's all it really does is make money," Arostegui said. "I think they ought to take them all out."
Arsotegui said he is particularly annoyed about the newest camera because that intersection is one of the main connections between Linda and Marysville.
Police Chief Wallace Fullerton said there are significant problems at that intersection, noting it is particularly close to a public park and a Head Start program.
"With all that pedestrian and kid traffic in the area, we just can't have people driving unsafely," Fullerton said. "It just can't happen."
In fact, the camera went in April 30 and, as of Thursday afternoon, more than 70 violations had been noted, Fullerton said.
Former Yuba City counsel John Sanbrook even sued Marysville over a ticket he received in November at Third and E streets, calling the photographic evidence "inadmissible hearsay" because no officer was present to actually witness the traffic violation.
The court rejected the argument and found Sanbrook guilty in early April.
Judge Dennis J. Buckley called the argument "patently illogical."
"Given that the very purpose of an automated system is that evidence can be gathered without the need for an eyewitness, there is of course no witness to the violation ...," Buckley wrote.
The City Council approved the placement of the Ramirez Street camera and one other earlier this year.
Mayor Bill Harris and Councilwoman Christina Billeci were not available for comment. Councilman Dale Whitmore opposed the camera.
"I just don't think they're necessary, but I'm in the minority," Whitmore said.
The city has reported it receives about $700,000 annually from the cameras and pays the camera company, Redflex, about $295,000. Fullerton has previously said the program "pays for itself."
Police have said they understand the cameras may not be popular, but they don't have to be as long as they are saving lives, which Fullerton believes is the case.
"Since 2005, our streets have been made safer, and a lot of that can be attributed to the cameras," Fullerton said.
For the police chief, the proof is all in the numbers.
Between 2000 and 2005, there were 661 injury crashes in Marysville. Since 2005, the year the cameras first went in, injury collisions have fallen to 253.
"It's a dramatic drop, and those results are consistent with nationwide numbers, too," Fullerton said.
The chief said the sharp decline can be attributed to the fact that many people don't know exactly which intersections are equipped and simply assume there are cameras at every intersection.
Even Arostegui acknowledged the cameras are a deterrent, but suggested the drop in crashes could be part of a larger problem for the city.
"I don't think anybody's driving through Marysville anymore because a $500 ticket just isn't worth the trip," Arostegui said.
Officials noted that Friday afternoon's near-gridlock situation on 10th Street indicates that a lot of people are still driving through town.
They're just driving slower.