Red Light Camera Companies & Opponents Eye CS Fight

By: Ashlea Sigman Email
By: Ashlea Sigman Email

This week a red light camera lawsuit could be laid to rest, but the aftermath may have lasting implications across the state and beyond.

Anyone who thought the red light camera battle was just about College Station, should think again. As red light camera companies and opponents duke it out across the state, both are keeping an eye on the electronic showdown in Aggieland.

"College Station was nearly the beachhead on a turning around of the red light camera business in this state," said Jim Ash.

Nearly, said Ash, because the petition he initiated and voters passed nearly a month ago still hasn't been made law. It was halted by a lawsuit and temporary restraining order.

Now the restraining order has been lifted, but the ordinance still isn't on the books.

Last week, the city council voted to take the cameras down. The city is also negotiating to end the suit.

In a phone interview Sunday, City Manager Glenn Brown said he doesn't expect the judge to rule on the validity of the election, only make sure the parties have reached an agreement. He doesn't think the city will decide on the election either.

Brown said taking the cameras down carried out the will of the voters. "Citizens voted to eliminate the red light camera program and we're doing everything we can to do that," said Brown.

It appears unless the judge rules Friday that the election was valid, the ordinance passed November 2, won't become city law. Brown said he plans to recommend that the council nullify the ordinance from two years ago that allowed the cameras in the first place.

However, Jim Ash said that's not the same as enacting the ordinance. He maintains his petition made photo enforcement illegal in college station; something not accomplished by eliminating the original law.

"The red light camera interests don't do anything by accident," said Ash. "They (the city council) will not enact the law that the citizens voted for, there's a reason for it."

A reason Mayor Ben White may have identified last week.

"I do know and it's been publicized that ATS (American Traffic Solutions) is working in other areas and you know have cameras in other areas and that the anti-red light camera people are working to negate the effectiveness of other cameras in those cities and that ATS is quite concerned that this doesn't become a snowball in effect and take care of the red light camera in all of their cities," said White.

While the cameras may be down in College Station, both sides are hoping the law and court decision errs in their favor to use as precedent in other cities.

As of Sunday, Brown said he had not seen the final draft of the agreement to end the suit, but said the city will likely file it before Friday. That's when the judge is expected to accept it, and close the case.

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