Mesa City Council Nixes Photo Radar Vans, School Zone Cameras Stay


If the City Council has its way, you’ll never see another photo-radar van lurking in Mesa.

The unpopular vans were pulled off the streets last week as Mesa’s initial traffic-safety contract with American Traffic Solutions Inc. expired.

The council approved a new five-year contract on Feb. 24 after city staffers and ATS spent three months making sure it conformed to several conditions imposed by the council in November.

Removing the vans was one of the conditions. The council also wants staffers to study whether more school-zone cameras are needed and to clarify Mesa’s overall policies and procedures related to the program.

John Pombier, the deputy city manager overseeing the program, promised a thorough yearlong review of the camera system, which will be due for council review in early 2015.

When discussing traffic cameras in November, the council said the review could lead to discussions about whether to remove red-light cameras. If that happened, Mesa would pay ATS a buyout fee. Vice Mayor Alex Finter, in particular, has expressed concern over whether the cameras actually reduce crashes and whether people who get tickets are treated fairly.

As it stands, the contract will pay ATS almost $1.9 million a year to run the camera system. That outlay has been more than offset in recent years, city officials say, by revenue from citations. The surplus for fiscal 2012-13 was about $2.4 million.

Under another new council policy, those surpluses now will be plowed back into the Police Department for traffic-safety programs rather than into Mesa’s general fund. That, Pombier told the council in November, will validate Mesa’s assertion that the camera program has always been about safety, rather than revenue.


by Gary Nelson,