BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 29
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          Date of Hearing:   June 13, 2011

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION
                               Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair
                     SB 29 (Simitian) - As Amended:  May 11, 2011

           SENATE VOTE  :  36-0
           
          SUBJECT  :  Vehicles: automated traffic enforcement systems

           SUMMARY  :  Imposes additional requirements on automated traffic 
          enforcement systems.   Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Specifies that a governmental agency must post signs within 
            200 feet of an intersection where a system is operating and 
            allows that the signs may be posted only in the direction in 
            which the system is used to issue citations.  

          2)Specifies that governmental agencies with systems in place 
            prior to enactment of this bill and that have not already 
            posted signs in accordance with this bill must do so by 
            January 1, 2013.  

          3)Clarifies that a governmental agency must perform all of the 
            activities that current law specifies to operate an automated 
            traffic enforcement system (e.g., develop uniform guidelines 
            for screening and issuing violations, establish procedures to 
            ensure compliance, etc.).  

          4)Requires governmental agencies, with systems in place prior to 
            enactment of this bill, to develop uniform guidelines and 
            procedures by January 1, 2013, as specified.  

          5)Requires, for systems installed after January 1, 2012, a 
            governmental agency to make and adopt a "finding of fact" that 
            the system is needed at a specified location for reasons 
            related to safety.  

          6)Prohibits a governmental agency from considering revenue 
            generation, beyond recovering the actual costs of operating 
            the system, when it considers whether to install and operate 
            an automated traffic enforcement system.  

          7)Provides that if, after a law enforcement agency has issued a 
            citation, the citing officer determines that the citation or 








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            notice should be dismissed, the citing agency may recommend in 
            writing to the magistrate or the judge that the case be 
            dismissed.  The recommendation must include the reasoning for 
            the recommendation and be filed with the court.  

          8)Requires that a notice to appear (i.e., citation or ticket) 
            include the following information:

               a)     The methods by which the registered owner of the 
                 vehicle or the alleged violator may view and discuss with 
                 the issuing agency, both by telephone and in person;

               b)     The evidence used to substantiate the violation;

               c)     The contact information of the issuing agency; and,

               d)     Information that clearly and conspicuously 
                 identifies the vendor with which the governmental agency 
                 contracts for the operation of the system.  

          1) Permits the issuing agency and the vendor to issue "courtesy 
            notices" to the registered owner of the vehicle or the alleged 
            violator prior to issuing a notice to appear.  Beginning on 
            January 1, 2013, courtesy notices must be on a form approved 
            by the Judicial Counsel, which must be developed in 
            consultation with the traffic and transportation committee of 
            the California Peace Officers' Association.  

          2)Specifies that both the citation and the courtesy notice must 
            contain the following information:  

               a)     The methods by which the registered owner of the 
                 vehicle or the alleged violator may view and discuss with 
                 the issuing agency, both by telephone and in person;  

               b)     The evidence used to substantiate the violation;

               c)     The contact information of the issuing agency; and,

               d)     Information that clearly and conspicuously 
                 identifies the vendor with which the governmental agency 
                 contracts for the operation of the system.  

          1)Prohibits a vendor from altering the notice to appear, the 
            courtesy notice, or any other form approved by the Judicial 








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            Council.  If a form is found to have been materially altered, 
            the citation based on the altered form may be dismissed.  

          2)Requires the issuing agency or the vendor, when contacting the 
            registered owner of a vehicle prior to issuing a notice to 
            appear in an effort to determine the identity of the driver, 
            to state in a clear and prominent fashion that the registered 
            owner is not required to provide the information and that 
            failure to provide the information will not result in 
            additional responsibility or liability associated with the 
            alleged violation.  

          3)Requires the vendor of an automated traffic enforcement 
            system, in cooperation with governmental agencies that utilize 
            such systems, to submit an annual report to the Judicial 
            Counsel that includes the following information, provided the 
            information is "in the possession of, or readily available 
            to," the vendor:  

             a)   The number of alleged violations collected from the 
               automated traffic enforcement system;

             b)   The number of citations issued by a law enforcement 
               agency based on information collected from the automated 
               traffic enforcement system;

             c)   The number of citations involving a vehicle traveling 
               straight through an intersection, turning right, and 
               turning left;

             d)   The number and percentage of citations that are 
               dismissed; and,

             e)   The number of traffic collisions at each intersection 
               that have occurred prior to and after the installation of 
               the system.  

           EXISTING LAW  :  

          1)Authorizes the use of automated traffic enforcement systems at 
            railroad crossings and intersections to record violations of 
            unlawful grade crossings and red light running.  

          2)Specifies that only a governmental agency, in cooperation with 
            a law enforcement agency, may operate an automated enforcement 








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            system if specified requirements are met.  

          3)Specifies that a governmental agency may contract out its 
            duties to certify that the equipment is installed and 
            operating properly and to ensure that the equipment is 
            regularly inspected, provided the agency maintains overall 
            control and supervision of the system.  

          4)Requires a governmental agency, prior to entering into a 
            contract with a vendor to implement an automated enforcement 
            system, to conduct a public hearing on the proposed use of the 
            system.  

          5)Prohibits a governmental agency from including a provision for 
            payment to the vendor of an automated speed enforcement 
            equipment based on the number of citations issued or the 
            amount of revenue generated, unless the contract was entered 
            into prior to January 1, 2004.  

          6)Requires that prior to issuing citations, an agency utilizing 
            an automated traffic enforcement system must make a public 
            announcement of the system and issue only warning notices for 
            30 days.  

          7)Requires that a peace officer or "qualified employee" of a law 
            enforcement agency reviews the photographs and issues 
            citations, as appropriate.  

          8)Requires that a citation must be on a form approved by the 
            Judicial Council containing specific information, including 
            the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle 
            identified in the photograph, the license plate number of the 
            vehicle, the violation charged, and the time and place when 
            the person may appear in court.  

          9)Requires that a citation must be mailed within 15 days of the 
            alleged violation to the current address of the registered 
            owner of the vehicle.  

          10)Specifies that photographic records produced by systems, as 
            well as information obtained from the Department of Motor 
            Vehicles (DMV) are confidential and may only be used for 
            traffic enforcement purposes.  
                
            FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Senate Appropriations 








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          Committee, this bill would result in the loss of an unknown 
          amount of penalty revenues to local jurisdictions that operate 
          automated traffic enforcement systems.  The Senate 
          Appropriations Committee also indicates that costs to the 
          Judicial Counsel to carry out specified requirements would be 
          minor and absorbable.  

           COMMENTS  :  Existing law authorizes the use of automated traffic 
          enforcement systems with minimal restrictions on the government 
          agencies using the systems.  

          Automated enforcement systems were originally authorized in 
          California by SB 1802 (Rosenthal) Chapter 1216, Statutes of 
          1994, to enforce rail crossings.  Two years later, SB 833 (Kopp) 
          Chapter 922, Statutes of 1995, authorized a three-year 
          demonstration period to test the use and effectiveness of 
          similar systems in reducing the incidence of drivers running red 
          lights at roadway intersections and in identifying the drivers 
          committing such violations and the vehicles involved.  

          Installation of these systems were justified primarily because 
          motorists running red lights are a serious traffic problem with 
          potentially catastrophic results to other drivers, and it is a 
          difficult violation for police officers to witness and enforce.  


          After reviewing the operations and effectiveness of the pilot 
          program, the Legislature enacted SB 1136 (Kopp) Chapter 54, 
          Statutes of 1998, to indefinitely authorize the use of automated 
          traffic enforcement systems, or "red light cameras," at 
          intersections.  Major modifications were made to the statutory 
          authority by AB 1022 (Oropeza) Chapter 511, Statutes of 2003, as 
          a result of an audit by the State Auditor that generally 
          concluded local governments needed to exert more control over 
          the operation of the automated traffic enforcement systems.  

          According to the author, the idea for this bill was brought 
          forward by a constituent who experienced a number of problems 
          with being misidentified by red light cameras in Southern 
          California.  According to the constituent, the vehicle captured 
          in the photograph was not hers nor was she the driver identified 
          in the photo.  The constituent reported that because private 
          companies were involved in the issuance of the red light camera 
          citations, demonstrating her innocence was a lengthy and 
          involved process.  








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          SB 29, would in part, address this problem by standardizing the 
          content and contact information contained on citations ensuing 
          that due process is provided in the adjudication process.  In 
          addition, this bill places further controls on the use of red 
          light cameras to ensure that the systems are used solely for 
          safety purposes and that motorists are given clear notice by 
          requiring sign placement at intersections where red light 
          cameras are in use.  

          This bill also creates annual reporting requirements for red 
          light camera manufacturers or suppliers whereby information 
          related to accidents and citations at red light camera locations 
          are compiled and submitted to the Judicial Council.  It is 
          unclear, however, what the Judicial Council would do with this 
          information beyond acting as a repository.  

          Concerns have been raised that the requirements set forth in 
          this bill would make installation and operation of red light 
          cameras cumbersome for local agencies.  It has been further 
          suggested that local jurisdictions could potentially discontinue 
          or reduce the use of red light cameras as a result of lost 
          revenues.  It can be argued that by authorizing red light 
          cameras, the Legislature's intent was to improve public safety 
          rather than provide a tool for revenue generation.  If red light 
          cameras reduce the number of catastrophic accidents associated 
          with red light running, then the cost of maintaining those 
          systems should be sufficiently offset by the public safety 
          benefits they provide.  If, however, red light cameras are not 
          sufficiently reducing such accidents, then it is questionable 
          whether or not they should be maintained.   

           Related Legislation  :  AB 432 (Hall) would require that a peace 
          officer or law enforcement agency issue the notice to appear for 
          an automated enforcement citation and that the notice be 
          accompanied by a certificate of mail obtained through the United 
          States (U.S.) Postal Service, completed by the local law 
          enforcement agency.  That bill is currently being heard in the 
          Senate.  

          AB 2729 (Ammiano) would have expanded the authority to use 
          automated traffic enforcement systems to include the enforcement 
          of unlawful turns explicitly at one specific location in San 
          Francisco.  That bill was vetoed by the Governor citing that it 
          was unnecessary given that existing law allowed for violations 








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          enforced through automated enforcement.  

          AB 2567 (Bradford) Chapter 471, Statutes of 2010, authorized a 
          local public agency to issue citations based on photo-evidence 
          of parking violations occurring in street-sweeping parking 
          lanes.  

          AB 1336 (Eng) of 2009, was nearly identical to AB 2567.  It was 
          vetoed by the Governor over privacy concerns and fear that the 
          bill could lead to the "unwarranted proliferation of camera 
          enforcement in many other arenas."  

          AB 101 (Ma), Chapter 377, Statutes of 2008, authorized the City 
          and County of San Francisco to issue citations based on 
          photo-evidence of transit-only lane parking violations.  

          AB 23 (Ma) of 2007, would have provided the San Francisco with 
          the explicit authority to automatically enforce an illegal right 
          turn violation at the intersection of Market Street and Octavia 
          Boulevard.  That bill passed Assembly in 2007 but failed in the 
          Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and was ultimately 
          gutted and amended to deal with a different subject.  

          AB 1022 (Oropeza) Chapter 511, Statutes of 2003, added 
          conditions and restrictions to the use of automated traffic 
          enforcement systems.  

          SB 1136 (Kopp) Chapter 54, Statutes of 1998, repealed the 
          January 1, 1999, sunset date, and extended indefinitely 
          provisions that allow the use of automated traffic enforcement 
          systems at official traffic control signals.  

          SB 833 (Kopp) Chapter 922, Statutes of 1995, authorized a 
          three-year demonstration period to test the use and 
          effectiveness of automated traffic enforcement systems in 
          reducing the incidence of drivers running red lights at roadway 
          intersections.  

          SB 1216 (Rosenthal) Chapter 1216, Statutes of 1994, originally 
          authorized automated enforcement at rail crossings.    

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

           Support 
           








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          None received
           
          Opposition 
           
          Department of Finance

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Victoria Alvarez / TRANS. / (916) 319- 
          2093