Advertisement
  1. News

Red-light cameras continue to be divisive issue in St. Petersburg

Published Jan. 17, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — City leaders continue to clash over red-light cameras.

Talk of the 2-year-old program dominated a public safety committee meeting Thursday, with the only consensus being that more talk was needed.

Transportation director Joe Kubicki told council members Thursday that since the cameras were installed, red-light related and rear-end crashes have decreased. In those two years, the number of citations issued also have fallen, he said.

In that time, the 22 cameras placed at 10 intersections have generated a little more than $841,000 in revenue, he said.

In Kubicki's mind, that all equals success.

"We think this is an indication of a behavioral change," Kubicki said. "Fewer people are running red lights. Fewer people are getting caught. The program is working."

Kubicki said the city's data shows the majority of people cited live outside the city, and get only one citation. Violations decreased 28 percent from the first year to the second, he said, and crashes at those intersections fell almost 43 percent.

Frequent camera critic Matt Florell said he didn't agree with many of the city staff's conclusions. One of his biggest complaints involves the timing of yellow lights, which he says the city calculated incorrectly. The mistake, he said, means many drivers were cited unfairly.

Council member Wengay Newton said he wants the city to give refunds to those people. He, along with council members Charlie Gerdes, Darden Rice and Amy Foster, expressed frustration about the conflicting information they were hearing.

"Every time we get a report from our staff, it's glowing," said Newton, who has tried numerous times to kill the program. "The problems that were brought to our attention were always brought by a citizen."

Kubicki acknowledged that a complaint by Florell did result in the city ultimately adjusting the yellow signal time at a camera intersection. He also said the city was more involved with the details of how the cameras work than many other cities, which have led to statewide changes.

"I'm glad our micro-management has led to some change . . . but we are really micromanaging on this," said council member Jim Kennedy, who wants more red light cameras in the city.

Council members asked Kubicki and Florell to meet before the council holds another workshop in February so they can get some mutual clarity.

Florell said he has met with Kubicki in the past but felt the talks didn't go anywhere.

"Typically if there's something he can refute, he will," Florell said. "If there's something he can't, he'll ignore it."

One issue related to the cameras already has the attention of the new administration.

On Wednesday, Mayor Rick Kriseman quietly directed the Police Department to start requiring its officers to pay red-light violations whether they are on or off the job. Up until now, on-duty officers did not have to pay those tickets, even if they weren't headed to an emergency.

Kriseman supports the cameras, but wrote in a memo that officers should be held to a "higher standard."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Dr. Manjusri Vennamaneni (center) was awarded Businesswoman of the Year by the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce. With her are Matt Romeo, President of PrimeCare (left), and Dr. Pariksith Singh, CEO, Access Health Care Physicians. Vince Vanni
    News and notes on local businesses
  2. Scientology’s international spiritual headquarters in downtown Clearwater is anchored by the Flag Building, on left. An elevated walkway connects the building to the Fort Harrison Hotel, the church’s first purchase in the city in 1975. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    The mysterious deals could reshape downtown Clearwater.
  3. Clearwater City Council members react to Tampa Bay Times reporting showing companies tied to members of Scientology bought 101 acres of downtown commercial property in three years. Times  |   (2017)
    We showed the politicians a map of the land now owned by buyers tied to Scientology. Here’s what they said.
  4. About 400 demonstrators protest the Church of Scientology in front of City Hall in April 1980. The church has a complicated history with the city, from its secret arrival in 1975 to its recent flood of downtown property purchases. PIERSON, DAVE  |  St. Petersburg Times
    The church arrived in secret in 1975. Here’s what happened next.
  5. The church has amassed 60 properties in Pinellas County since arriving in 1975.
  6. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Booked on Friday on probation violation charges, 61-year-old Gerald Souders died on Saturday.
  7. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Troopers say the 28-year-old driver was involved in two minor accidents before causing the crash that killed a Largo man.
  8. Move over, Honeycrisp: New apple to debut at grocery stores
  9. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    University police say a 25-year-old grad student enrolled at the University of Florida fell to her death Friday afternoon from near the top of the 8-story parking facility.
  10. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister [CHRIS URSO | Times]
    Yes, that’s an "R" next to his name on the ballot. But if you dig deeper, Sue Carlton asks, does the sheriff bleed blue? And a follow-up: Does it matter?
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement