Tag Archives: Chicago speed cameras
Mayor Rahm Emanuel created the city’s speed camera automated traffic enforcement program to protect kids from speeding vehicles.
At least that’s the official premise of a program called the Children’s Safety Zone Program.
Speed cams would be installed near parks and schools to slow down motorists and theoretically reduce kids being hit and injured or killed by speeding vehicles.
But some Chicagoans are angrily questioning why some speed cameras are not actually placed adjacent to the parks they’re mean to protect.
CBS 2′ Pam Zekman reports on a handful of locations where speed cams are placed within the legal parameters of the law (within 1/8th of a mile from a park or school), but seemingly not within the spirit of why the program was created.
Good new and bad news.
First, the good news.
Ald. Willie Cochrane has seemingly convinced City Hall to install more digital speed indicator signs near speed camera locations around the city according to columnist Mark Konkol at DNA Info.
It seems Cochrane has been frustrated by the trio of speed cam violations he’s been issued near the University of Chicago and wants more warning for drivers. The digital signs give drivers real time feedback on the speed their traveling near speed cameras. While there have been a handful of these signs posted at a smattering of sites around the city, Konkol reports another 50 are going up. Cochrane’s hope is the speed data will slow drivers down enough to avoid a ticket.
WGN TV focused their news cameras on Chicago’s parking debt crisis Tuesday, a story The Expired Meter broke several months ago.
Drivers owe the City of Chicago over $1.3 billion in unpaid parking tickets. When you add over $250 million in unpaid red light camera and speed camera tickets the totals top off at over $1.5 billion.
The worse news is that debt has been growing on average of $1 million a week since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office.
DNA Info’s comprehensive look at the city’s year and a half old automated camera program show’s the cameras have issued nearly 1.6 million violations with fines totaling nearly $58 million dollars since the first cameras began issuing tickets in October 2013.
Every day, nearly 3,000 motorists are hit with a speed cam ticket issued at 142 camera locations near parks and schools, and averaging fine revenue for the city of about $109,000 per day.
A local group dedicated to eradicating red light and speed cameras from Chicago streets, was able to put a few notches in their political belt during the most recent municipal elections.
Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras sent their pledge to abolish red light and speed cameras to all city aldermanic and mayoral candidates prior to the election. Eight of those candidates who signed the group’s pledge, won city council seats for the next four years.
Nearly 50 candidates representing races in 30 wards, and four mayoral candidates signed the group’s pledge.
“We want to congratulate newly elected on their impressive victories and express our gratitude to these champions of reform on their election to the City Council” said Mark Wallace, Director of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras.
The list includes three new aldermen–Susan Sadlowski-Garza, Derrick Curtis and David Moore as well as Toni Foulkes, an incumbent who was redistricted out of her current ward but won in the newly drawn 16th ward.
Next to pensions, the cameras are a close second in the top tier of issues being discussed by the candidates. Even USA Today says so.
One group who’s done an effective job of making the automated traffic enforcement cameras a hot topic is the Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras. They’ve been holding protests around the city for the better part of two years and asked candidates to sign a pledge to dismantle both programs if elected.
City officials said Tuesday that they are taking steps to collect the $1.5 billion in unpaid tickets and fines owed the city, but said the vast majority of debt was on the books long before the mayor took office in 2011.
The Expired Meter and DNAinfo Chicago reported earlier Tuesday that Chicago is owed $1.5 billion for unpaid parking, red-light and speed-camera tickets — a potential cash cow for the city.
“Nearly 70 percent of the debt cited in this story was generated before Mayor Emanuel took office, and in fact, it is debt that stretches back a quarter of a century to before the fall of the Berlin Wall,” Susan Hofer, a spokeswoman for the Department of Finance, said in an email sent late Tuesday morning. “Many of those who owe money from two decades ago are deceased, have moved, or are otherwise unreachable.”
The Expired Meter & DNA Info reported that the vast majority of the debt, $1.3 billion, is for parking tickets, while red-light camera tickets represent $205 million and speed cameras account for $27 million in outstanding fines, fees and penalties owed to the city.
The debt is far higher than that owed to other major cities like New York or Los Angeles.
From when he first took office, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken a hard line
on recovering money owed to the city — particularly when it comes to parking ticket
scofflaws or those who rack up red-light or speed camera tickets.
But under his administration, the amount of unpaid tickets and fines have continued
to grow — to a staggering $1.5 billion, according to data obtained through a Freedom
of Information Act request by The Expired Meter. It accrues at a pace of $1 million a
week, documents show, far more than what the city collects from tickets it issues.
A trio of motorists filed another lawsuit challenging the legality of Chicago’s red light and speed camera programs and are seeking class action status, according to the Sun-Times.
This lawsuit takes the unique approach of claiming the City of Chicago is not following the law when it comes to the noticing aspect of the program.
The first problem, the lawsuit states, is that the make (the name of the car manufacturer) is being listed at OTHR on all speed camera violations that have been mailed to lead footed drivers. However, the municipal code explicitly requires a specific make must be listed in order for the violation to be considered proper.
A group of aldermen is hoping to force a vote at Wednesday’s City Council meeting on an ordinance that would spell the end of both red-light and speed cameras by 2018.
The ordinance, introduced by Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) in early October, has been languishing in the Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Public Way since then.
But now, Sawyer and a handful of aldermen plan on using a parliamentary maneuver to bring it to the floor of the Council for debate and vote on Wednesday.
“We were hoping we would go through the committee process,” said Brian Sleet, Sawyer’s chief of staff. “While were talking about these other ideas for reforming the cameras, we should discuss a realistic way to address these policies. We want to discuss it and see where our colleagues stand.”
Sleet said Sawyer’s plan is a responsible way to rid the city of the unpopular automated traffic cameras by giving the city time to find alternative streams of revenue to replace the tens of millions of dollars in fines generated every year and allow vendor contracts to expire as scheduled. The aim is to end both the red-light and speed camera programs by 2018.