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.