The city council will take up one of the most controversial issues in the city of Lynnwood – red light cameras. Council members will hold a roundtable discussion on the topic tonight.
Councilwoman Kerri Lonergan-Dreke requested the discussion. She says red light cameras are usually the first thing people bring up when they find out she’s from Lynnwood.
“What I’m hearing from folks, both inside and outside of Lynnwood, is people don’t have a positive feeling about red light cameras,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of folks who have written to us, saying ‘we will no longer come to Lynnwood; we won’t shop in Lynnwood.’”
Lonergan-Dreke believes red light cameras run contrary to the city’s visioning statement of creating a welcoming, friendly city.
She says now is the time to have the discussion before they start hammering out the 2013-2014 biennial budget. About five percent of the police department’s budget comes from red light cameras.
Many opponents question whether the cameras are more about revenue than safety – a claim rejected by Police Chief Steve Jensen.
“We really weren’t being duplicitous or disingenuous by the way it was marketed as safety. We had a system we could automate without having to add a bunch more cops, which are expensive,” he said.
Councilman Benjamin Goodwin believes the cameras don’t always paint the city in a good light.
“I know of two businesses in Lynnwood that have left Lynnwood and gone to another city, in part because of the red light cameras,” he said.
Others on the council are staunch supporters of the program.
“If you come to Lynnwood and break the law you’re going to get a ticket. Period. It’s plain and simple,” Councilman Van AuBuchon said.
The roundtable is the first part of the city council’s regular work session, which begins tonight at 7 p.m. in council chambers. It will be followed by a discussion on new or alternative revenue streams the city could pursue.