LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that the city should refund potentially hundreds of drivers who may have been wrongfully ticketed by a faulty photo-enforcement camera in Watts.
On Monday, CBS2 exposed a faulty photo-enforcement camera at the Metro Blue Line crossing at East Century Boulevard and Grandee Avenue. At the intersection, the traffic light remains green at the same time the crossing gates come down.
CBS2 learned that in 2015, 34 photo enforcement tickets were issued at the intersection. In 2016, there were 807, an increase of more than 2,000 percent. If all paid, that equates to almost $400,000 in fines.
Last August, William Taylor of Watts received a $490 red light citation in the mail. Taylor decided to fight the ticket, pushing his case before the MTA. In January, an agency chief admitted, “I have reviewed the merits of your claim and frankly, I agree with you. I believe the light phasing is confusing for traffic and that you should be refunded.”
MTA spokeswoman Paula Tonilas told CBS2 that because of Taylor’s case, the intersection is now being redesigned. Another traffic light will be added to remove confusion. However, since last month, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has not stopped issuing tickets at the intersection despite the ruling on Taylor’s case.
On Wednesday, Garcetti, who is the first vice chair of the MTA Board Of Directors, told CBS2 that wrongfully ticketed drivers should “absolutely” get their money back.
“I would encourage MTA to refund those dollars, and for the sheriff to stop issuing those tickets until it’s fixed,” Garcetti said. “Certainly I would vote for that as an MTA leader.”
In 2014, CBS2 exposed city traffic officers issuing tickets for street cleaning in areas where the tickets shouldn’t have been written. Garcetti ordered a refund there as well.
“The cost was a couple of million dollars, but I think it was the right thing to do and I think Metro should as well,” Garcetti said.
When asked earlier about why people who may have wrongly been issued tickets were not being given refunds, Tonilas responded, “Well, we’re not going to be in the practice of letting people off the hook who broke the law.”
The MTA issued the following statement to CBS2 Wednesday evening.
“While Metro believes the light phasing and traffic light placement at the Century/Grandee crossing conforms to industry standards, due to concerns expressed, Metro will stop issuing citations at this intersection while we continue to review this matter and work with the City of Los Angeles to enhance the intersection with an additional near side traffic light.”