Exception to California Ban on Stop Sign Ticket Cameras
If you’re ever driving through any of the parks in Southern California, make sure you follow the traffic signs. You could get a ticket for not stopping at a stop sign – even if no one is around.
You may have seen red light cameras while driving in California, but what about stop sign cameras? You will only find them in Southern California. There are seven stop sign cameras located along the trails, parks and open spaces around the Santa Monica Mountains.
The cameras have been placed there by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA), a little-known government agency. The MRCA owns 73,000 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains area.
The MRCA has installed seven cameras in the area: three in Franklin Canyon Park, one on Reseda Boulevard near the entrance to Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park, one at the top of Topanga Canyon and two in Temescal Gateway Park. The MRCA uses the cameras to enforce traffic laws. The agency claims the stop sign cameras increase driver compliance and prevent auto accidents and pedestrian accidents.
Some traffic experts believe that the cameras do not improve safety, given the camera’s remote locations. Motorists can see so well in all directions that even stop signs aren’t necessary. Camera opponents believe the cameras should be removed and only serve to generate revenue for the park. Since 2013, the MRCA has ticketed 97,000 drivers and generated a total of $7 million in ticket revenue.
California Vehicle Code Regulating Automated Traffic Enforcement
According to California Vehicle Code Section 21455.5M, an automated traffic enforcement system – such as a stop sign camera – may be equipped at an intersection or other place where a driver is supposed to stop, as long as certain requirements are met.
- There must be signs indicating that the system is installed at the intersection, and the signs must be posted within 200 feet of an intersection.
- If cameras are used, the driver must be able to be clearly identified.
Are The MRCA Stop Sign Cameras Operating In Violation Of California Law?
Opponents of the stop sign cameras argue that the MRCA is operating these devices in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 21455.5. Opponents point out that MRCA has failed to provide adequate signage to warn motorists about the cameras.
The MRCA, however, states that it is not in violation of California Law because it does not issue tickets for violating the California Vehicle Code. Instead, the MRCA labels the $175 ticket assessment as an administrative fee, for violating park rules as opposed to violating the vehicle code. The stop sign tickets are similar to parking tickets in that they do not affect your driving record. However, if you refuse to pay them, late fees will be assessed and you could end up in small claims court.