California has the most expensive red-light camera tickets in the world; and the tickets are so steep, according to Kevin Fagan, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, that one camera in Oakland generates more than $3 million annually.
According to Fagan and the traffic-watch site TheNewspaper.com, anyone in California photographed violating a red light pays a fine of $480 and no other jurisdiction in the U.S. has a tab that high. The second-highest fine in the U.S. is $250, Fagan says.
California's Dept. of Finance estimates that red-light cameras bring in more than $80 million annually to the state and $50 million to cities and counties. Not all $480 from each ticket goes to the cities or counties that authorize the cameras; more than half goes to the state or to the companies tht run the devices.
While the fine is the same whether a camera or not a live police officer issues the ticket, the camera draws considerably greater criticism because it can issue far more tickets than a single cop at any intersection.
Roger Jones is one local resident who asked: "Is there a limit to how much 'gotcha government' we have to put up with?" He began crusading aainst the red-light cameras after he got a ticket from one in 2009. "Just because you can do it (issue tickets) doesn't mean you should," Jones noted.
His organization, the Red Light Camera Protest Group, pickets in Fremont and calls for the elimination of red-light cameras and a reduction in the fine. "I think we'd all be better off without them," Jones said. "There are better ways to address the problem."
His foremost suggestion is to increase yellow-light durations, giving people more time to stop safely - and to avoid tickets.
He first pushed the city of Fremont in 2010 to tack 0.7 of a second onto the yellow light at Mission Boulevard and Mojave Drive, pushing it to five seconds, the city noted a 62 percent drop in red-light camera tickets there. But, they're at it again...