Eyman appeals traffic-enforcement camera petition lawsuit: Mayor says appeal is a 'moot issue'
November 10, 2011 · Updated 4:05 PM
Tim Eyman is not taking no for an answer as he continues his quest to put the issue of traffic-enforcement cameras on an upcoming ballot.
The initiative advocate is taking a two-pronged approach to appealing a judge’s decision last month that blocked Redmond’s traffic-enforcement camera initiative efforts.
On Tuesday, Eyman’s attorney, Daniel Quick, filed an official notice of appeal to the Division 1 Washington State Court of Appeals.
The city has 14 days to respond to Eyman’s appeal to the superior court ruling, which it plans to do, according to a statement by Mayor John Marchione released to the Redmond Reporter Wednesday afternoon.
In addition, Eyman’s attorney plans to file a motion to reconsider to King County Superior Court Judge Laura C. Inveen, who threw out the original lawsuit, Eyman told the Reporter Wednesday.
Eyman filed the original lawsuit after Redmond city clerk Michelle McGehee did not turn in the petition they filed with the city that would have required a citizen vote on the traffic program. But Inveen ruled Oct. 11 that it would be a “useless act” for the city to turn in the petition to the county for signature validation. She concluded that the issue concerning traffic-enforcement camera falls under the power of city legislature rather than the initiative process, based on a September appeals ruling in Bellingham.
Eyman disagrees and said he feels his attorney will prove that processing the petition, which features more than 6,000 signatures, is not a “useless act,” if given another opportunity.
“It is useful for the process to continue,” Eyman said. “Every stage this moves along, it puts extra pressure on the city council to listen to the citizens. There is shelf life on these signatures. People move all the time. There’s no marginal cost to the city or county to process this petition now.”
Eyman is the co-sponsor of Redmond Initiative No. 1 — “Let the People Decide on Red Light Camera in Redmond.” If the initiative is put on the ballot and passed, it would ban the use of cameras to catch and fine traffic violators unless approved by the City Council and voters. But so far, the initiative effort is hitting a legal road block.
Eyman’s two-pronged appeal plan comes on the heels of a unanimous vote by the Redmond City Council to terminate its red-light contract with the city’s camera vendor, but continue to pursue using traffic speed cameras in school zones.
While many anti-camera activist applauded the City Council’s decision, Eyman said the city continues to ignore the will of the people.
“It’s infuriating that the 6,000 Redmond voters who support Initiative No. 1 continue to be ignored,” Eyman said. “Both red-light cameras and speed cameras are clearly opposed by Redmond citizens and the council’s decision to not just continue, but expand the use of speed cameras totally contradicts the clear will of the people. It is clear the mayor and council still don’t get it. As a result, we will continue to fight for Redmond Initiative No. 1 — it’s obviously still needed.”
EYMAN’S APPEAL A ‘MOOT ISSUE,’ MAYOR SAYS
In his statement, Marchione said Eyman’s appeal efforts are a “moot issue.”
“The City already conducted an open and transparent process to evaluate traffic safety cameras,” the mayor’s statement said. “After reviewing nine months of data and listening to a voluminous amount of public testimony, the Council elected to end the camera program at intersections but to continue to pursue cameras as a strategy for school zone safety.”
Marchione went on to state that the city’s representative democracy is effective and if citizens had a problem with the decisions of its elected officials, it would have shown in this week’s election results.
The only incumbent city council member up for re-election, David Carson, holds a commanding lead against his opponent Sue Stewart.
“The election gave voters the opportunity to make changes if they thought they were not heard and no changes were made,” Marchione stated. “Mr. Eyman’s appeal wastes public resources pursuing a moot issue.”
However, Eyman pointed out that banning the use of traffic-enforcement cameras always wins when put to a vote by the people. He said his initiatives in Monroe, Bellingham and Longview have all garnered at least 60 percent support of voters.
“At the end of the day, voters just don’t want them,” he said. “Do you think it would have been different in Redmond?”
The city will look at all options to improving drivers’ behavior in school zones, including the use of speed cameras, Marchione told the Reporter earlier this week.
“We have not selected the tools but the Council has said that cameras are an allowable strategy,” Marchione said. “Potential options could include widening the sidewalks and narrowing the road, speed reading signs to alert drivers that they are exceeding the limit. Every school zone is different and would require it own analysis.”
HARLAN CONFIDENT IN CITY
Union Hill resident Scott Harlan, who lead the signature-collecting effort, was pleased by the City Council decision and said he believes his efforts showed to the Council how much “the public hates the program.” He said he is confident the city will “come up with solutions better than speed cameras.”
Harlan said using variable speed indicator signs are a cheaper and more effective way than using speed cameras as a way to change drivers’ behavior in school zones.
“Nobody wants to speed through a school zone,” he said. “A speed indicator reminds drivers to slow down. Frankly, it’s a pretty easy problem to solve. … It’s about prevention, not fining people after the fact.”
Eyman does not share Harlan’s optimism that the city will use options other than speed cameras — and that’s a driving force behind his appeal.
He said the use of traffic-enforcement cameras is “taxation through citation. There are other ways to address the problem and they need to pursue them.”
Eyman also said if Judge Inveen’s ruling stands, it would invalidate the initiative process and squash the possibility of future initiatives.