Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Pete Beach decides against red light cameras

ST. PETE BEACH — Residents, tourists and visitors of St. Pete Beach can relax. They will not get an automatic traffic ticket if they stray a few inches over a painted stop line in St. Pete Beach after the light turns red.

That's what often happens when red light cameras are installed at intersections.

Nearby South Pasadena already has them, and St. Petersburg is planning to install cameras at multiple intersections this summer.

St. Pete Beach resident Pat Anderson recently got a $158 ticket from South Pasadena in the mail even though she wasn't driving her car at the time. Under the law, that doesn't matter. She owns the car, so she has to pay.

Anderson said she knows several elderly residents who received multiple tickets after trying to turn into Palms of Pasadena Hospital.

"Red light cameras are good in theory, but in practice it's much easier to get these tickets than you realize," she told St. Pete Beach commissioners Tuesday before the commission decided to repeal an ordinance to install red light cameras.

"We have a lot of people living on low fixed incomes. A $158 ticket is going to make the difference between groceries and no groceries for some of these folks."

The city's hoteliers are relieved as well at the commission's decision to abandon red light cameras.

"The city needs to be careful about the image we leave with our guests," said Tim Bogott, TradeWinds Island Resorts' chief executive officer. "Our community is clearly tourist driven, and it would be insensitive to become known as a trap."

John Marks, general manager of the Don CeSar Beach Resort, agreed.

"We all have to abide by the law, but in general, we would prefer that a tourist not get a ticket," he said.

That won't happen now that the commission reversed a decision made just a month ago and repealed its red light camera ordinance.

"I don't think red light cameras are merited in St. Pete Beach," Mayor Steve McFarlin told the commission Tuesday.

Commissioner Marvin Shavlan said he thinks the cameras can actually cause accidents and said the tickets are often successfully challenged in court.

Commissioners Bev Garnett and Al Halpern agreed.

"We don't have high-speed intersections that can create the T-bone crashes that result in fatalities or serious injuries," Halpern said.

The only commissioner still strongly in favor of installing red light cameras was Jim Parent.

"This is about public safety, pure and simple," Parent said. "It is sufficient that red light cameras might save more lives than not having cameras. To me that works. It's kind of like seat belts in cars — they are annoying but are worth it."

The city originally planned to install cameras on 75th Avenue at Blind Pass Road and Gulf Boulevard but delayed implementation until after the spring legislative session.

When American Traffic Solutions, a private Arizona company, originally pitched its camera monitoring services, the firm estimated that 1,800 tickets would be issued each month.

Although most of the revenue would go to the state and the company, the city would still get more than $3 million over five years, according to McFarlin, who called it a "hidden tax."

In the past month, many residents reported getting pro-red-light telephone calls, and apparently they were then immediately connected to elected officials.

"I received a call from a lady who said someone called her telling her why we should approve it (red light cameras)," Garnett told her colleagues.

Garnett said the resident told her that the red light camera caller had "patched her through" to Garnett's phone.

"I don't like this kind of marketing," said McFarlin, who received one of those calls himself.

McFarlin said he didn't know if the calls were from ATS or made on its behalf.

St. Pete Beach decides against red light cameras 05/28/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 28, 2011 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump vows more sanctions on North Korea


    President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to impose more sanctions on North Korea as he prepared to meet with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea to seek a common strategy in confronting the isolated nuclear-armed state.

    U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters on Sept. 19, 2017. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 in New York described as "the sound of a dog barking" Trump's threat to destroy his country. [Associated Press]
  2. Tampa chamber of commerce votes against tax increase on business property


    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce on Thursday voted against supporting a city of Tampa plan to raise taxes on commercial properties in the city for 2018. The property tax, included in the city's proposed $974 million budget, would boost taxes from $5.73 to $6.33 for every $1,000 in property value.

    The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce voted against supporting a city tax hike on commercial property. Pictured is Bob Rohrlack, CEO of the chamber. | [Times file photo]
  3. How should St. Pete make up for dumping all that sewage? How about a street sweeper?


    Every crisis has a silver lining.

    In the case of St. Petersburg’s sewage crisis, which spawned state and federal investigations and delivered a state consent decree ordering the city to fix a dilapidated sewer system, the upside is figuring out how to satisfy the $810,000 civil penalty levied by the Florida …

    City Council chairwoman Darden Rice said it was important to chose carefully because residents will be paying attention.
  4. A boy and a girl stare at the camera from their house after Hurrciane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. [Associated Prss]
  5. Tampa poll rates streets, flooding, police-community relations and transportation as top public priorities


    A city of Tampa online survey of the public's priorities for the next 18 months rated improving streets and easing flooding as the top priority of nearly 89 percent of respondents.

    Survey results