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‘Speed van’ plan moves forward to Santa Fe City Council

 

SANTA FE — The Santa Fe City Council’s Finance Committee gave the green light to advancing a proposal to restart the S.T.O.P. speed limit enforcement program.

The Santa Fe Traffic Operations Program involves the use unmanned speed enforcement vehicles, generally known as “speed vans,” parked roadside and equipped with radar and cameras to catch speeders. The city allowed the program to lapse in 2014 while the CEO of the company that held the city’s contract, Phoenix-based Redflex Traffic Systems, was being prosecuted on bribery charges in Ohio.

The full City Council now will consider publishing notice of a public hearing for public hearing on July 12.

In a 3-1 vote, the Finance Committee approved changes to the existing ordinance — removing references to red light cameras, eliminating language that would allow an offender’s car to be seized upon a second violation and modifying the fine structure for violators — and a resolution to direct the city manager to restart the program.

A speeder would be fined $50 for a first offense. If they were caught speeding again within a two-year period, the fine would be $100. For violations in a school or construction zone, the fine would be $150. Tickets would only be issued if vehicles were exceeding the speed limit by at least 11 mph or more, or 6 mph in school and construction zones.

City Councilor Renee Villarreal voted “no” on the speed van plans, saying she wanted more information, including data from other cities with similar programs.

The amendments to the ordinance already have four city councilors as sponsors. It would take five votes to approve the proposal. Last week, the Public Works Committee, which includes Villarreal, voted down the speed van plans 3-0.

When in effect before, the program was not popular with many people who felt the program was intrusive. One man fired a gun into a speed van, even as the van’s cameras recorded the shooting.

Councilor Signe Lindell, one of the sponsors, explained her support by saying, “I just want people who are speeding continuously all over town to slow down.” She also said she considered it a quality of life issue in that people should expect that cars won’t be speeding through their neighborhoods at 60 or 70 mph. Proponents said speed vans also would help keep police officers from spending so much time on traffic enforcement.

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