HOUSTON – The City of Houston will continue to issue red-light camera tickets until March 15, despite voters striking down the devices last week.
The city is locked in a contract with American Traffic Solutions, the cameras’ manufacturer, until May of 2014. The contract requires a 120-day termination notice, which is why City Attorney David Feldman said the city would have to continue using the cameras until March. Ignoring that clause, he said, would leave the city – and taxpayers – open to a lawsuit from ATS.
“This is a lesson learned,” Feldman said. “And obviously, going forward, we’re going to take a lot closer look at termination for convenience clauses.”
Meanwhile, a civil rights lawyer said he was considering filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of ticketed drivers if the city continues the use of the 70 cameras after Nov. 15 – the date the voting results would be certified.
“The people have voted,” said civil rights lawyer Randall Kallinen. “And as a matter of fact, in each and every city—about 15 now—where it’s come up for a vote, each and every single city has voted out the red-light cameras, so this should have come as no surprise to them.”
The city was forced to put the red-light camera issue on the ballot after opponents collected more than 20,000 signatures calling for a referendum.
Since they were first installed in 2006, many city council members and the Houston Police Department supported the cameras. Their removal would blow a $7-10 million hole in HPD’s budget, according to the city controller.
But during Tuesday’s council meeting, several speakers blasted the city for not taking the cameras down immediately.
“It makes me very angry and very frustrated that anybody can assert their power and delay the voice of the people,” said Sherman Mayes, a Houston resident who voted against the cameras. “I feel like my vote is being taken away.”