10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, February 2, 2010
By DARRELL R. SANTSCHI
The Press-Enterprise

Two Loma Linda City Council members have opened a new front in the battle against red-light cameras.

After Redflex Traffic Systems refused early termination of its contract to operate the cameras, Councilmen Ovidiu Popescu and Rhodes “Dusty” Rigsby want to tell San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies not to write tickets to motorists caught on the cameras making illegal right-hand turns.

“I think there are some things we can do to mitigate what I think is an injury to our community,” Popescu told his fellow council members last week. “We do, as council members, have the authority to direct the Sheriff’s Department on how they should proceed with enforcement.”

Rigsby agreed, contending that the cameras are essentially a tool for “over-enforcement” of traffic laws and that deputies could continue to issue citations to motorists when an officer is present at an intersection and observes the violation.

Whether they will succeed in getting such an order remains to be seen.

Popescu’s attempts to author council action at last week’s meeting to cancel the city’s contract before its Dec. 1 expiration or, in the alternative, to order deputies not to write tickets for right-hand turn violations, were thwarted on technical grounds.

In response to a question from Councilman Robert Ziprick, Loma Linda City Attorney Richard Holdaway said the council could not supersede the California Vehicle Code and that action could not be taken at last week’s meeting because the agenda for the meeting did not include language indicating that such a decision was possible.

Rigsby tried to invoke a loophole allowing the council to take emergency action to cancel the contract on grounds that the proliferation of fines for right-hand turns pose a financial hardship for residents and visitors.

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