SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – It’s now up to Governor Gavin Newsom if three Bay Area cities will get speed safety cameras. Lawmakers passed a bill on the cameras Wednesday and sent it off to Newsom’s desk.
The proposed cameras are aimed to make streets safer for drivers and pedestrians, but some opposed to the potential law continue to question the approach.
City leaders in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose have been looking for solutions to stop dangerous speeding and deaths. Many believe these cameras are worth a shot.
However, getting to this point took some stretching with the bill going through several changes to curb opponents’ concerns. Some are still not satisfied with what’s being proposed.
San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan explained why he likes the bill.
“We need to invest in technology, education and continued enforcement, and this is part of the enforcement strategy to hold people accountable for following our traffic laws,” he said.
San Jose saw a record-high of 65 traffic deaths last year. The idea is these automated cameras would track the speed of the cars and take pictures of the license plates.
Offenders would then get tickets in the mail, but opponents say there continue to be questions about privacy and equity.
“So now what we’re basically doing is taxing the people that live in these communities to pay for traffic and road improvements that the government sort of hasn’t done,” said Tracy Rosenberg, the advocacy director of Oakland Privacy.
Rosenberg says cameras are a lazy approach to addressing the lack of proper infrastructure. She’s also concerned about personal information being stored by cities, especially after March’s ransomware attack in Oakland.
“There’s a real safety issue in terms of our personal business not staying personal,” she said.
Mahan and other supporters say the speed cameras will not be invasive and will also not intentionally target low-income communities.
“It’s really about making sure people adhere to our traffic safety laws. Speeding can save a minute or two, but slowing down can save a life and we need to remind people of that and hold them accountable to following laws to keep our neighbors safe,” Mahan said.
The City of Oakland’s website points out several reasons why they support this bill. One of those reasons is that it would remove traffic stops between police and the community that have the potential to escalate.
When the cameras are installed, the pilot would last for about five years, and the governor has until October 14 to sign the bill.