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We’re number 3 – in school-zone camera speeding fines

Posted by Mike on January 14th, 2013

In just two weeks in December, after the new school-zone speed cameras west of Olympic View Elementary School went live, they generated 437 speeding tickets at $189 apiece.

In a story published Sunday, our news partners The Seattle Times indicates fines totaling $82,593 were issued along that stretch of Fifth Avenue Northeast between approximately 94th and 96th streets.

There are four school-zone cameras sites – on Martin Luther King Jr. Way (1,510 tickets), Greenwood Avenue North (881 tickets), Fauntleroy Way Southwest (435 tickets), and here, the Times reports. The tickets were issued between December 10 and 21.

The  last time we wrote about this, in November before fines were being issued, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn told the Times he was “surprised” at the high number of trial citations the cameras were generating – up to $2-4 million in fines annually, he said.

Now, though, should tickets continue at the current rate the city projects it could issue $1 million in fines a month.

The cameras were expected to bring in around $800,000 this year, and McGinn said the city would spend any excess on public safety improvements near the schools. The city also pays the Arizona-based operators of the cameras a fee of $456,000 annually.



Tags: Uncategorized

23 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Donna // Jan 15, 2013 at 11:09 am

    “McGinn said the city would spend any excess on public safety improvements near the schools” . . . I would like the entire amount, not just the “excess” to be spent on Safe Routes to School issues, starting first and foremost with sidewalks.

  • 2 Christina // Jan 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Are these cameras logging “violators” who are going @ 30 mph or slower outside of high-traffic times (+/- 20 minutes beginning and end of school day)? Are they ticketing drivers going 21 or 22 mph only when school lights are flashing?

  • 3 Znachki // Jan 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    @Christina – according to the reply given to that question in an article in yesterdays Seattle Times, the answer is – yes, they are ticketing. However, that is not provable data.

  • 4 An Observer // Jan 15, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    My math was correct in an earlier post concerning these cameras. I think the next move will be to have them activated during non school hours to ticket people for driving 31 MPH and over.

    “The cameras are already there, and by golly, they are speeding, and gosh, we could sure use the money.”

    Once you give the government a cash cow like these cameras, they will go to the well until they are forced to stop.

    How about having a government that operates within its budget and gives value for the money?

  • 5 SH // Jan 16, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Why are these cameras such a big deal? Speeding is very dangerous to all, no matter the time of the day. I wish we had more of these in the city. If you don’t want a ticket don’t speed. I’d love to see us collect zero dollars and have safer streets, but as long as we’re going to have speeders they might as well contribute to the city budget.

  • 6 David Miller // Jan 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Observer — Pretty sure that’s not legal in Seattle.

  • 7 MapleLeafBob // Jan 16, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    “How about having a government that operates within its budget and gives value for the money?”

    @Observer: I wish for the same thing, but the chances of me digging and finding a diamond mine in my backyard are probably higher. Government has zero motivation to be fiscally responsible because they spend other peoples money and care more about catering to the loudest whiners than what makes the most financial sense. Hence why our states and federal government just keep spending and spending.

  • 8 RushL // Jan 17, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Observer, MLB, FYI, private companies also spend other people’s money, and the larger they are, also tend to be rife with waste and inefficiencies. It’s virtually unavoidable due to the sheer scale; but is routinely overlooked if they turn a profit, which is not how the government, on the other hand, is measured. Time to find a new rant and/or different cable news channel.

  • 9 Sue // Jan 17, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    The only good news I read is the money is all going back to increase safety around school and does not go in the general fund I would not object at all if they used it for sidewalks but I want to see the proof.

  • 10 Dan // Jan 17, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    “If you don’t want a ticket don’t speed. ”

    I hate this attitude. It’s like the Republicans that say “If you don’t want to get pregnant, then don’t have sex” as part of their justification for pushing to restrict access to abortion and birth control. We should always question overbearing observation, laws, and punishment. We don’t have to live in a world like in Orwell’s 1984. There’s no harm in questioning government, it’s power, it’s new laws, it’s new fines. You may blindly accept new laws and fines, but please discourage others from speaking up.

  • 11 Dan // Jan 17, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    That should have said “please don’t discourage others from speaking up”

  • 12 dhsea // Jan 17, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Re “…and McGinn said the city would spend any excess on public safety improvements near the schools.” Give me a break, it’ll be “re-allocated to the general fund” soon enough. Moneys like these are never spent where they’re promoted to be.

  • 13 SH // Jan 18, 2013 at 10:28 am

    @Dan

    I guess I just don’t understand why this particular method of speed limit enforcement is so distasteful. It’s illegal to speed. The cameras aren’t making the speeding laws more onerous, nor are they issuing fines or punishments that are materially worse then an officer with a radar gun.

    Would you equally object to stationing a few motor officers in this area on a daily basis? Would the cameras be more palatable if try we’re mounted on the roof of a police cruiser that is moved around by an officer?

    I just don’t understand how this particular method of enforcing the speed laws is so much worse then any of the existing methods.

  • 14 SH // Jan 18, 2013 at 10:32 am

    @Dan

    I’ll just skip addressing your false equivalency between the traffic laws and this particular enforcement mechanism, and abortion policy. I can’t really believe that you don’t understand the difference between the two.

    Unless you’re really just arguing that you think you should be able to drive at whatever speed you desire on our streets.

  • 15 An Observer // Jan 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    I don’t speed. Never ticketed. In fact, I think I will start going 59.5 mph in the left lane of the freeway.

    I would prefer, if a problem exists, that a police officer give out the tickets.

    I do have a question, if we have a rule that states “20 mph when children are present”, and then put up an absolute “20 mph during school hours (regardless of whether a kid is in view)” and start taking photos to fine people, it is a bit much.

    Another point, the Seattle Police no longer cite people for smoking crack on the street downtown, probably because they just get out in hours and do it again. They also won’t pay any fines. So, the police are enforcing petty rules against those of us who can pay the fines, and they can coerce payment by a number of avenues. It is bad policy, even if it fills their coffers.

    I’d like you include the definition of:
    “ad hominem (Latin for “to the man”), short for argumentum ad hominem, an argument made personally against an opponent instead of against their argument.”

    Please CAPITALIZE any ad hominem attacks, so the rest of us can tell if you know what you are doing or not.

    I can choose not to patronize private businesses if they are run poorly, I am stuck with the government and would like them to operate within their budget, rather than look to the citizens for more and more revenue.

    I enjoy respectful exchanges of well thought out points. Keep it that way.

  • 16 SH // Jan 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    What does the efficiency of the goverenment have to do with enforcing a valid law on the books? But if efficiency is what you want then I can’t see why this is a problem. We pay an private business less then 500K per year to enforce a traffic law. If we placed officers at each of these locations every day then I have to imagine that costs more.

    From what I can tell mostly your problem is with enforcing this law. You’d prefer the law to be enforced less of the time. Why? I just don’t understand why enforcing this law is a problem. Personally I find it to be a good law an most of the folks that live near my house complain all the time about speeding. I’m happy to see the law enforced.

    I’m not sure we have a defacto policy of not enforcing laws against the public smoking of crack, but even if we did why should that prevent us from enforcing our traffic laws?

  • 17 RushL // Jan 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    It’s cheaper to have a camera catching school zone speeders than to have an officer there handing out tickets to speeders throughout the duration of designated timeframe, thus helping the government YOURE STUCK WITH try and operate within its budget.

  • 18 MapleLeafBob // Jan 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    @RushL:

    Nice attempt at deflection and bringing up private company talking points. It’s such a commonly used tactic now days people just let it roll.

    The biggest difference is that a private companies, most of them that don’t receive subsidies which is the majority, obtain their money through consumer CHOICE. People giving to them. The government obtains their money through forceful taxation and failing to pay means you are breaking the law. Do you see the difference? Choice versus force.

    Now, before you deflect again and go into some counter about how taxes are necessary, I will spare you the typing time and agree. Taxes are absolutely necessary and are critical for our society. But how the taxes are used and the efficiency in which they are used is subjective and therefore open to argument. Again, when its money that people are forced to give the government they tend to have a much more vested interest in ensuring it’s spent wisely. If you don’t like how some company spends it’s money, you have a CHOICE not to give them any of yours. It’s a pretty simple concept.

  • 19 SH // Jan 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    You still haven’t addressed my actual point which is why is enforcing the speed laws bad? Are you really saying that if our government budget was balanced we shouldn’t enforce laws anyway since there’s no reason to collect fines? It’s against the law to speed. The way we punish an infraction of this type is by a fine. What does the government budget have to do with that and why should it matter how the law is enforced as long as it is enforced legally.

    It seems like this is an efficient way for our government to enforce a valid law. I can’t understand why you don’t want the law enforced, or why you would want it enforced by motor officers at a much higher cost.

    Should we enforce all laws that when broken result in the payment of fine depending on how the city budget is doing in any given year?

    You’re idea that the point of this exercise is only to raise revenue is not correct. The point of the exercise is to get people to SLOW DOWN in these areas. The fact that this generates revenue for the city is a side effect.

    I guess it might be better for you if instead of a fine we put you in jail for 2 or 3 days as punishment for speeding. Would that make this more palatable to you? Maybe we could do this for red lit runners too. I fact I bet if we used jail as a punishment for excessive speed or running a red light we would actually see a reduction in those behaviors.

  • 20 Dan // Jan 22, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Enforcing existing speeding laws = good. But cameras are ugly aesthetically for our neighborhood, a violation of privacy to people not committing crimes but being filmed, annoying to the people that live by them, and as it turns out, a big money making scheme for the city. SH, I’m sure you’re also a fan of the drone planes Seattle police want to use (http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2019607687_drones05m.html). Some of us fear the loss of privacy, that really shouldn’t be so hard to understand.

  • 21 SH // Jan 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    @Dan

    Again, I don’t understand how this is any worse then stationing a police cruiser on scene to do the same job. The cruiser has a camera as well. The speed laws need to be enforced somehow.

  • 22 Dan // Jan 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    SH, I’ve laid it out a bunch of times and you simply ignore my points, you are a good little lemming for big intrusive government. Do you approve of the Seattle Police using drone planes? And you’re completely OK with law abiding citizens losing their right to privacy? If so, great for you, but don’t assume we all share your fondness for big brother. I’ve seen no evidence provided that there were any accidents or injuries related to cars speeding along that street. If I’m going to compromise my privacy and freedom, I want there to be a damn good reason for it.

  • 23 PSJ // Jan 23, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    I tend to agree with SH: this is a low-cost method of enforcing a law. If you don’t agree with the law, then change it. If you don’t want a ticket, don’t speed.
    Disagreeing with an enforcement mechanism is meaningless; if you have a problem with the law, change the law.
    Regarding drone planes and privacy: that’s a straw man argument. Drivers are in the public right of way, performing a public activity (driving), licensed by the government. There is no illusion of privacy.