HOUSTON—Houstonians voted Tuesday to put the breaks on red light cameras, which have issued thousands of tickets and collected over $40 million in fines over the last four years.
The numbers showed that voters were clearly divided on the issue: 52 percent thought they were a bad idea while 48 percent voted to keep them up.
Since voters rejected Proposition 3, when are the red-light cameras going away? It turns out there is no official word on when the City of Houston will take the cameras down. The city's message to drivers is this: If you run a red light and get caught for it, you'll have to pay up. At least for now.
"More than 22,000 Houstonians signed a petition for proposition 3 and the city attorney clearly weighed in and said we absolutely had to put it on the ballot," Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday.
Houstonian Jorge Rodriguez said he's happy the red-light cameras will be gone because of all the headaches they've caused him.
"They done gave me a couple tickets that I thought should not have been, you know, [charged to me]," Rodriguez said. "I got through the [road] in enough time or made a turn, and I made a wide turn one time and it took a picture of me. [Receiving those tickets cost me] $50 dollars [for] each one."
Parker said the city's contract with the company that runs the red-light cameras doesn't expire until 2014. Parker can't pinpoint an exact date when the red-light cameras will officially be removed until her staff first meets with legal departments and reviews contract details.
"All the money that was generated by the red-light cameras went right back into the Houston Police Department, so it is a budgetary impact on the Houston Police Department," said Parker.
Since HPD will have to absorb that hit, Parker said she will try to remove the cameras in a way that does not impact public safety.
"We're not going to lay off firefighters. We're not going to lay off police officers. But the ability to fund everything else in the city is in question," Parker said.
As many wait anxiously until that question is answered, some residents are disappointed to see the red-light cameras go.
"I think the cameras are just better to have there rather than real people. I think it does save lives," Houston resident Mimi Do said.
"The red-light cameras got your license plate, so you could have borrowed my car and ran through a red-light camera and I'm in jeopardy of losing my registration," said Jolanda "Jo" Jones, who holds Houston City Council at-large position 5. "That's not fair."
39 News contacted the mayor's office to find out what this proposition 3 vote means for tax payers down the road, but they said it's hard to say until all details are finalized.