St. Petersburg, FL -- While the vast majority of people given a red light camera ticket in St. Pete deserved them, Matt Florell, the author of the website StPeteCameras.org, says about a thousand drivers have wrongly been issued a citation.
On Thursday an attempt to give those drivers a refund hit a bump in the road. The City Council decided to discuss the proposed refund -- as well as the entire controversial red light camera program -- at a workshop in late January or February.
"I can tell you unequivocally [that] if this was a car, this lemon would have gone back a long time ago," Councilman Wengay Newton said after Thursday's meeting.
Newton proposed the refunds and has been critical of the city's 22 red light cameras.
"Somebody has to stand up for the people, that area law abiding citizens that are getting unlawfully taxes and fleeced."
At issue is whether some yellow lights in St. Petersburg are too short. State law requires yellow lights to be up for 4.3 seconds on most roads.
Since the city installed the cameras two years ago, Florell has claimed some lights have been too short.
On Thursday he said at some red light camera intersections, like on 1st Ave South and 34th Street, the slope is not factored into how long the light should be yellow before turning red.
"I paid to have a traffic engineer firm survey that intersection. They found it 100 feet from the stop bar. You're looking at a 1.66 grade, which means the yellow light needs to be higher," Florell told reporters.
But the head of transportation and parking management for the city strongly disagrees and on Thursday defended the red light camera program.
"I think the public is fed misinformation and the misinformation is due to some fallacy in the process [that] people are being issued notice of violations in error," Joe Kubicki said.
"That is not true based on any investigation that we've been able to do, or the Florida Department of Transportation has been able to do, or any of the other people who are responsible for overseeing this program."
Florell estimates if the City Council agrees to refund the tickets in question, the city would have to pay out about $22,000.