By Andria Borba

FREMONT (KPIX 5) — What difference does seven-tenths of a second make? For two intersections in Fremont that suddenly churned out hundreds of red light tickets to drivers — the answer is about half a million dollars.

The city proposes to shell out at least $490,000 to drivers after it was revealed a mixup resulted in a change to the yellow light duration.

“They shortened the yellows,” said traffic camera activist Jim Lissner. “That’s the smoking gun.”

Earlier this month, KPIX 5 reported on the skyrocketing number of red-light camera tickets at the intersections of Mowry Avenue and Farwell Drive, along with Mowry and Blacow Road. The yellow light times at these two Fremont intersections lasted just 4 seconds for a chunk of 2016, not the 4.7 seconds the city claims online.

Fremont Public Works Director Hans Larsen had offered this reason for yellow light discrepancy. “We had, you know, student interns that were helping us.”

On February 14, the city changed its story during the city council meeting after Lissner and Fremont resident Suresh Bazaj brought up the KPIX 5 report.

“We are painfully aware of the situation and we appreciate you bringing the issue here,” said City Manager Fred Diaz. “We admit mistake and we are in the process of coming up with a remedy.”

Bazaj said he’s happy the city is admitting fault – finally.

“For them to say it didn’t happen, shows that this is a rogue operation,” said Bazaj. “Anyone should see that the number of tickets are jumping from a factor of five to 10, it should raise an alarm. There’s no quality control, there’s no supervision.”

The refunds will have to have to be approved by the Alameda County Superior Court.

Comments (11)
  1. The automated red light ticket business is a total racket. Numerous studies have shown that the vast majority of tickets issued by the cameras are for violations at extremely low speeds while watching for oncoming traffic (i.e., a mere failure to stop all the way), whereas most if not all red light accidents are caused by people who blow through red lights at relatively high speeds, completely oblivious to (oncoming) cross traffic. Probably 95% of the tickets generated before Fremont reduced the yellow light should not have been issued either. These red light cameras are nothing but a money raising tool for the government, and do not increase safety at all.

  2. “Mixup”, sure, you liars. This is legalized extortion.

  3. Ok so some people might get a refund, but how are they going to take the point off the driving record from DMV?

  4. James Walker says:

    In an earlier study in Fremont, an increase of 0.7 seconds on the yellow intervals produced about a 71% reduction in violations to improve safety and stop literally robbing mostly safe drivers of about $500 each for the “crime of driving safely in a place with improperly short yellows”.

    Red light cameras are government-run for-profit rackets that should be illegal in every state, as they are in some already. Most tickets go to safe drivers for small technical fouls that endangered absolutely no one. Ticketing safe drivers for revenue is no different than larceny, in these cases thefts by governments. NO ONE should tolerate red light cameras.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

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