SeaTac Council extends red light cameras; approves fresh food resolution
by Jack Mayne
The SeaTac City Council approved a two year extension of its contract with Redflex for three red light cameras that cost the city nearly $15,000 a month.
This is the second and final extension allowed under the current agreement. If the council decides in two years to continue operating the cameras on 188th Street, it could be with a new vendor or under presumably increased costs with Redflex.
The extension was 6-1, with Councilmember Rick Forschler the only vote against.
He said the motivation for the cameras was increased revenue and not for safety. He cited a study that said the cameras actually increased accidents.
“We don’t have enough evidence in SeaTac that these things work.”
But Police Chief Jim Graddon said that in 2007, the first full year that the cameras were installed, there were 6,700 citations issued for red light violation, but just 3,100 in 2011, which he said, showed a “change in the behavior of drivers to result in a drop of more than half. There is a safer public out there.”
Council member Barry Ladenburg said that since there was no increase in cost, the extension “is a good deal for the next two years.”
Earlier during public comments, resident Earl Gipson urged the council to get rid of the cameras because they are “a waste of money.” But Matthew York said he was involved in a study of the cameras in Seattle and “they do work and they do save accidents.”
Corner store fresh food
The council passed a resolution proposing policies that would encourage the availability of fresh food and produce in the city. The resolution would have endorsed proposed “corner store policies” and then sought consideration and potential adoption as part of the 2014 major comprehensive plan update.
Councilmember Pam Fernald she preferred the city did not have to “motivate things” and that the “market itself is a good motivator” of providing fresh food where people want to buy it.
Deputy Mayor Mia Gregerson said the subject of fresh food availability “was a conversation we need to have,” perhaps pushing changes in the city’s zoning laws that now make it difficult for small vendors or mobile vendors from being in places where no supermarkets are located.
The council voted 4 to 3 to pass the resolution.
‘Celebrate America’ stymied
During a council study session before the regular meeting, one member said she wanted to support the proposed Fourth of July celebration but since the current budget did not have money for such a new event, the city did not have the nearly $46,000 the event promoter was seeking.
Council member Terry Anderson said it was her understanding that the local Hotel-Motel Committee was “not strong” for the proposed celebratory event, that “it would not bring in” out of town visitors. She also worried about who would pay the costs of policing parking and for ambulances that could be needed. She was told that the Police Department had those things “covered.”
Forschler was blunt, that while he liked the idea of a citywide celebration, “I don’t think the city should spend money on this.” Council members agreed, with Fernald saying, “it is a beautiful event but we don’t have the money.”