The City Council passed a resolution today to turn off the city’s red-light cameras immediately. It also repealed the city ordinance that authorizes use of cameras in general.
Only Councilwoman Sue Lovell, who has repeatedly warned that such a vote shouldn’t be taken without knowing how much it could cost the city in potential legal damages, cast the only vote against the resolution.
The resolution is non-binding. The mayor has the authority to turn the cameras off herself. However, City Attorney David Feldman said it will help him in federal court to have a united City Council behind him. He said he expects that the red-light camera vendor, American Traffic Solutions, will ask a judge to enjoin the city from turning off the cameras.
Feldman said he and Police Chief Charles McClelland had already prepared an order to ATS asking the company to shut off the cameras at 12:01 p.m. ATS attorney Andy Taylor said that could take several days.
“It’s time now that the people rejoice. The City Council has finally voted and this mayor has voted to do what we had asked them to do last November and that was to honor the will of the people and to take down these cameras,” said Michael Kubosh, an organizer of the ballot initiative through which voters citywide rejected the cameras.
The repeal ordinance essentially outlaws the use of red-light cameras in Houston.
Taylor confirmed that the company will seek to block the turn-off in federal court. ATS will argue that the Council’s action is invalid and void.
“If this is held to be invalid, then the cameras stay up,” Taylor said.
ATS has said that if the city shuts off the cameras, it could cost the city $25 million in damages. Yesterday, Feldman called that estimate ”a pure fantasy.”
Written by Chris Moran; courtesy of the Houston Chronicle