PHOENIX — In November, the Phoenix City Council voted 5-4 to not allocate funds to extend the city's contract with Redflex, who owns and operates red light cameras at 12 intersections, along with multiple mobile speed cameras at various school zone locations.
The measure would have added $800,000 to the more than $4 million current contract and extend the program until December 31, 2020.
"I just don't understand it," said Debra Stark about why five of her fellow council members voted against the contract extension. "I think they save lives and I am just embarrassed we voted to take them down."
Stark was joined by a couple of dozen protesters Wednesday morning from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the corner of 7th Street and Bell Road in Phoenix. The cameras at that intersection handed out more than 3,000 tickets to drivers who ran red lights in 2019.
(1/3) I share in the disappointment of @DebraStarkPHX that the full Council could not come to a consensus on keeping our current red light cameras active and thank her for leading on this important issue.— Mayor Kate Gallego (@MayorGallego) January 2, 2020
Among the protesters, Barbara Hoffman, who has been fighting for red light safety for years after her 14-year-old son, Michael, was hit and killed by a red light runner in 2004.
"He waited until the light turned green, and when he took off, someone ran the red light and hit him in the intersection," said Hoffman, who is now Executive Director at Red Means Stop Traffic Safety Alliance, a nonprofit that aims to prevent fatal car accidents
"Being able to do this gives me strength to keep his memory alive and to hopefully change some bad driving behavior," said Hoffman.
Nine of the 12 intersections with red light cameras have had a 57 percent decrease in crashes since installed in 2015, according to an analysis done by the city.
Councilman Sal DiCiccio was among those who voted against extending the camera contract. Sam Stone, DiCiccio's chief of staff, said the councilman does not accept the contention that red light cameras make our roads safer.
"What the public is told and the reality is are two different things," Stone said. "The public is told these are critical life saving devices. But the data and the places these things were placed says it's absolutely not true."
Councilman Carlos Garcia called the choice of the intersections to a money grab for the company at the expense of the community.
"I fundamentally don't trust Red Flex or the process in how these cameras were set out," Garcia said at the December 18th council meeting. "I think this is profit driven. I think it's a poor tax."
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego shared this statement in response to Stark's protest:
"I share in Councilwoman Stark’s disappointment that the Council could not come to a consensus on keeping our current red light cameras in place. While I joined her in voting to keep our speed detection vehicles, it was not the outcome either of us wanted. We are at a critical juncture for pedestrian safety in Phoenix and should be adding tools to our toolbox— not taking them away. We will be holding a work study on this issue in the near future and hope to work with the full council to create more solutions to keep Phoenicians safe.”
The City Council currently has a request for proposal out looking for new bids on the red light cameras, meaning the current cameras could be off for at least four months.
Here's a list of the 12 intersections with red light cameras:
35th Avenue & Cactus Road
35th Avenue & Glendale Avenue
16th Street & Jefferson Street
Tatum Boulevard & Thunderbird Road
67th Avenue & McDowell Road
Central Avenue & McDowell Road
53rd Avenue & Indian School Road
50th Street & Ray Road
7th Street & Bell Road
12th Street & Camelback Road
35th Avenue & McDowell Road
24th Street & Thomas Road