Council Feb. 20 to again review request for red-light cameras in Edmonds

(File photo)

The Edmonds City Council at its Tuesday, Feb. 20 meeting is scheduled to once again hear a request from the Edmonds Police Department to install red-light cameras at selected intersections.

The council in November voted 5-2 against a proposal for a red-light camera pilot program at three to five Edmonds intersections. The measure had been included as a 2024 police department budget proposal for $180,000 but with revenue estimated at $3.5 million based on fines issued.

Councilmembers gave various reasons for rejecting the proposal, including the increased amount of staff time — for both the police and the municipal court — that it would require. There was also skepticism about the estimated amount of revenue the program would produce.

According to a presentation included with the Feb. 20 council agenda, Edmonds Police Chief Michelle Bennett this time is offering the council a pilot program that could includes one of the following three red-light camera options:

1) At three high-accident intersections citywide:

220th Street Southwest and Highway 99

212th Street Southwest and 76th Avenue West

State Route 104 and 100th Avenue West

2) At six Highway 99 intersections and three additional high-accident intersections:

224th Street Southwest and Highway 99

220th Street Southwest and Highway 99

238th Street Southwest and Highway 99

216th Street Southwest and Highway 99

228th Street Southwest and Highway 99

212th Street Southwest and Highway 99

220th Street Southwest and 76th Avenue West

212th Street Southwest and 76th Avenue West

State Route 104 and 100th Avenue West

3) At three Highway 99 intersections and three non-Highway 99 intersections.

In other business, the council is scheduled to further discuss the acquisition of the Mee property located adjacent to Mathay Ballinger Park, hear the Edmonds Planning and Development Department 2024 work plan and receive the 2023 annual report from the city’s public defender’s office

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N. You can also comment remotely via Zoom at Or comment by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782. The webinar ID is 957 9848 4261.

Regular council meetings beginning at 7 p.m. are streamed live on the Council Meeting web page (where you can also view the full agenda), Comcast channel 21 and Ziply channel 39.

  1. It is all about government control-vote out anyone on the council that votes for this. I grew up in Wallingford-Fremont. Accidents all the time as that is part of life. When you having cameras watching everything we do we are not free. Vote out any council members that vote for this. If the mayor goes along with this remember to vote him out. Our freedoms are being controlled by lunatics.

    1. “Accidents all the time as that is part of life.” – So just let them happen. Tough if someone gets killed.
      “cameras watching everything we do” – Stop light cameras see into your bedroom! Watch you take a bath!
      “we are not free.” And we need to be free to get killed by drivers ignoring stoplights, free to ignore red lights and speed limits!

      Yesterday, I saw a car turn right through a red light at Olympic View Drive and 196th, barely slowing down. Stand at 7th and Main. You will see more cars rolling through the stop signs than you will see actually stopping. Ditto the fountain. “Freedom” from traffic enforcement seems like small compensation for being killed or injured.

      If anyone has a better idea how to make our streets safer for cars and pedestrians, it would be valuable to hear it. Our streets are full of accidents waiting to happen. With ever-growing population density and ever-increasing population we have more and more traffic, and the probability of accidents is far greater than it has ever been. Helpful ideas, anyone?

      1. Yes, I have a helpful idea Nathanial. The reason more people roll thru than stop at 7th. and Main is because it is a stupid place to have an all way stop in the first place. Put the one stop sign on 7th. and move the all way stop up to 8th. and Main where four busy roads intercept and you need traffic calming into and out of our Bell Street Neighborhood. Add pedestrian activated flashing signs at the crosswalks at 7th. and Main. Our Nelson Happy Streets planning staff (who are still well entrenched in our city government) are planning to put bike lanes down Main Street and pedestrian bulges on the East half of the 8th. and Main intersection when two simple added stop signs and basic wheelchair ramps would be the perfect solution to traffic control there. The proposed stop light cameras are really to produce much needed revenue, which they will do.

        1. I agree with your suggestions, Clinton, but “The reason more people roll thru than stop at 7th. and Main is because it is a stupid place to have an all way stop in the first place.,” is interesting. I never took you for someone who encourages civil disobedience!

          Nah, I get your point. 🙂

    2. Steve, I trust you are using hyperbole when you refer to “our freedoms are being controlled by lunatics”. Because “the root of this word [lunatic] is luna, which means moon. That’s because lunatic originally meant someone who went crazy with every phase of the moon, kind of like a werewolf. Most people these days don’t believe in moon-caused insanity, but we still talk about lunatics, sometimes meaning clinically insane people.”

      It is most unfortunate if you are declaring that anyone who votes in favor of red light cameras to help save lives is clinically insane. And several city council folks, and the mayor, were just voted in so you have a 4 year wait to vote them out IF you can convince the majority of Edmonds voters to do so. I think not.

      1. I was sitting at Starbucks on main and 5th last summer with friends that can verify this. Maybe 20% stopped completely. A guy in a pick-up did a California stop. Behind him was a police officer. I watched as the guy in the pick up headed up to Bell Street where there is a Stop sign. He did a rolling stop at 5th and Bell and took a left turn-The police officer behind him again ignored him and headed to the precinct. I walked up to Edmonds police office because I was gonna complain. I couldn’t get in. The police in this town shut the citizens out. If you are driving around Edmonds to go to Starbucks your Latte will cost you over $100-do we want to be the next Lynwood?

  2. Makes sense to me – even if it only breaks even on cost versus fines. I see more and more folks ignoring sensible intersection rules.

  3. Only if these are monitored by the Edmonds Police Dept and not someplace in Texas, like the ones in Lake Forest Park.

  4. Steve, freedom to endanger others with little regard for their right to not be killed driving?
    There is no such thing as accidents, only lack of proper judgement by those who disregard the law.
    I agree with Nathaniel.
    Without the actual presence of police, which is impossible as they can’t be everywhere, something needs to be done. I have witnessed many drivers blowing through red lights like it’s nobody’s business but their own.
    They act as if they have every right to drive without any regard for others safety.
    Hit them where it hurts, in the pocketbook and maybe they will think twice before punching the pedal.

  5. Boy, that sure showed up again quick. Same menu, same kitchen staff, different waiter (Rosen). Business as usual. Sketchy that the police would be in the revenue business. It’s all about the money, to say it’s about mostly safety is worthy of a few Pinocchios.

    1. Thanks Brian – your comment gave me a chuckle. Yes, a new mayor and a couple new city council folks barely slowed down the unhappiness and complaints about contemplated actions by the city council. Indeed. Be interesting to see how it goes with a few new people on board in city gov’t.

  6. From what I have read very briefly is that there is some evidence that the cameras lower deadly head on and side impact crashes by about 20% in some areas they are used but increase the incidence of panic type rear end crashes where used. In virtually all cases where used they increase revenue to the municipalities. In my view the two big issues here in Edmonds are: 1. This is a city dept. head (Chief of Police) and mayor by extension trying to make policy which is supposed to come from the Council and 2. We are a town highly dependent on tourist and visitor spending for our collective financial well being and what message does stop and speed traps send to the people we want to come here and spend money?

    1. “We are a town highly dependent on tourist and visitor spending for our collective financial well being and what message does stop and speed traps send to the people we want to come here and spend money?”
      Clinton I am a little surprised you would even write this as a legitimate point of contention.
      You are usually a respected voice of reason judging from your past comments.
      However, my answer would be that this town wants to keep my visit as safe as possible and obey all traffic laws while we’re here.

      1. Matt, tell that to the guy or gal who is all excited to bring a hot date to dine out at Charcoal and misses the yellow light at 220th. and 99; receiving a couple hundred dollar ticket in the mail for running the red light. He/She tells at least five or six friends about it and vows to never set foot in the city again. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care if we do it because I drive the speed limits and stop at all red lights and our city is essentially broke.

        1. Clinton, tell that to the guy or gal who narrowly escapes being hit when your excited driver ran the red light. Maybe he should calm down behind the wheel, hot date or not.

          I HATE disagreeing with you, but we need to do something about the dangerous driving that disregards red lights and stop signs in Edmonds. If your guy or gal tells friends that Edmonds is a town where you have to observe the driving rules, I’m all for it. I think the economy would recover, and I never heard that a hot date was an excuse for having an accident.

        2. I’d tell him to focus on the road and not his hot date. No circumstance allows for any kind of negligent driving and I would hope they do tell all their friends. I really don’t understand why you would defend the “guy or gal” in your scenario. Maybe they should have allowed more time in order to arrive at their destination. I doubt the hot date was impressed by speeding through a red light!
          I appreciate your safe driving habits and agree the city could use more revenue instead of tax increases.

  7. The camera at Westgate on 104 will probably catch a lot of ferry traffic, might make the dangerous bike lane planned through that intersection slightly less unsafe.

    Overall I have come around to preferring this plan to blanket Hwy 99 and a few other busy intersection with red light cameras over alternative means of raising revenue such as tax increases…as long as the powers that be ensure that the police budget gets the revenue and uses it wisely.

  8. Some people think that disobeying traffic laws is a game where if you don’t get caught you win. They are sore losers if they get caught by cameras. The primary purpose of government is to keep us safe and secure. If that takes speed cameras, let’s install adequate numbers of them. It’s good to acquire all the money we can by catching all the violators we can. Double benefits. It makes no sense to continue to allow scofflaws to skate. People don’t get fined unless they deserve it. Here’s to a safer town of Edmonds, our home.

  9. I’m surprised by some of the comments here. Car caused fatalities and injuries have been rising for years, and our streets are just not safe for pedestrian and cyclists. This isn’t overblown government surveillance. It’s a safety measure to prevent people getting hit by cars.

  10. Cameras do not stop speeders or those who run red lights. Do they deter them? What traffic studies support the idea that traffic cameras reduce accidents? Lynnwood has a long history. Whats their record. Not sure there are any but, open to evidence to the contrary. If this is just to gin up revenue then it is selective and probably a bad idea.

    1. Actually, you are 60% more likely to NOT get a second ticket if you get one from an automated traffic camera. This was reported in a story within the last week on NPR.

    2. I see many traffic violations every day as I walk and drive around our city. I virtually never see anyone driving thru a red light. About the only place I can recall seeing that happening is drivers turning left from 100th onto Edmonds Way on the way to the ferry.

      1. I agree with Ron – I could list about ten, 4-way stop intersections where you could get your $3.5m in 1/2 the time.

  11. My sister was killed in a Traffic accident outside of Tucson Arizona in in 1987-did a traffic camera save her? Did a traffic camera save James Dean or Sam Kinison -Don’t give up your rights to the woke mob-vote out the woke mob in The Edmonds council if they put up traffic cameras-woke destroys

  12. They are not “red-light” cameras, they are “yellow-light” cameras, meant to catch drivers who didn’t successfully anticipate when the green light transitioned to yellow.

    This is a money grab, and you need to have bells on your feet to believe otherwise.

    1. Is this true Paul? I thought this was the case in lynnwood when they first put in the cameras. I was slamming on the brakes at a glimpse of a yellow. Very dangerous. Then I found out there that they had to have a picture of you at least partially in intersection with red light. So because of this I find myself pushing the yellow more than I ever used to before the cameras. Opposite of desired effect on safety… in my opinion.

  13. If automated cameras only issued tickets for people blowing through a red light at full speed, I’d be all for them. But I’m pretty sure this is rare enough that it doesn’t explain the $millions in revenue in Lynnwood.

    I think the majority of tickets are for right turn on red violations when you almost come to a stop, but not quite. Who hasn’t done this when a visual scan indicates no vehicles, pedestrians, or bicycles in the area? While technically a violation of the law, It’s not dangerous. It’s something very safe drivers do. I wonder whether an Edmonds cop who could see the context would even issue a ticket. But the cameras don’t see the surrounding traffic, so they can’t take that into account. They don’t know whether you did something dangerous.

    Red light camera fines are regressive. $139 is trivial to a CEO but painful for a minimum wage worker.

    I urge the city council to look beyond the revenue and reject this bad idea.

  14. Matt and Nathanial. Are you really reading my comments or just leaping to the conclusion that I’m opposed to the red light cameras. Nobody is defending anyone’s bad behavior or recommending that we have the cameras or not. What I am suggesting is that this thing be looked at very carefully before we just leap to the idea that it is going to really accomplish anything beyond lining our empty city coffers or pissing off people who would otherwise think Edmonds is paradise on earth and want to spend money here.

    My friend, Ken Reidy, has really researched the state law around how cities are supposed to do the research and honor open public comment hearings before these things are allowed to be implemented. Like I said, I obey traffic laws so I don’t really have a horse in this race, except that it should be done legally and correctly for all the right reasons; not just because a Police Chief and a Mayor say it’s a grand idea. Those two people aren’t supposed to be making policy; that’s the Council’s job under our system of city government.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Clint. Following is a link to a related Reader View from last year:

      I’m concerned that more taxpayer money was spent in 2024 leading up to last night’s presentation without the 2024 City Council first voting to authorize a study.

      Hopefully this Red-Light Camera discussion will end now and nothing more will be done unless the 2024 Council does what RCW 46.63.170(1)(a) allows.

  15. These red light camera schemes are bad ideas, opposed by the public, regressive to lower income drivers, bad for the economy and driven by policing for profit. I don’t know if links are allowed but check out this from the National Motorists Association:

    They point out that residents of cities where these are implemented usually despise these schemes and indeed sixteen states have banned automatic ticketing due to public opposition and others have never implemented them for the same reason. Also, when put up for a public vote – these machines have been rejected 90% of the time. These cameras are also on the decline nationwide.

    In 2011 PIRG released a report on the widespread abuse of these probities law enforcement camera schemes.

    Statewide reports and city reports have shown increased crashes at intersections with cameras as folks panic to beat the ticket.

    The best option to increase safety is to lengthen the yellow light timing. Even by a second. That solves most delayed reaction / slow speed approach issues.

    Sadly, these cameras catch a ton of safe drivers making safe slow rolling rights on red. For straight ahead violators, the majority are within a second of less of turning red – not the truly dangerous ones that violate after several seconds when perpendicular light turns green.

    Vote NO, council members!

  16. Vote YES! for option #3. Violators are everywhere in Edmonds neighborhoods and will continue to drive dangerously and carelessly because they aren’t being “observed”. Time to stop this blatant scofflaw thinking and hit their wallet. A community-wide DRIVE SMART campaign is needed … that includes turning on your headlights /tail lights 24/7 (helps low vision people judge distance) and Use Yah Blinkah at every turn, everywhere. Don’t forget bicycle season is upon us and crazy, speeding drivers need to slow down or pay the price. The HAWK signals are terrific safety features … just push the button!

  17. Mike,

    Thanks for the links. In the 2011 link:
    “Before pursuing a camera system contract, local governments should heed the advice of the Federal Highway Administration and first investigate traffic engineering solutions for problem intersections or roadways.”

    As our representatives, Council must address all of the issues presented in these comments, and question staff about implementation of “traffic engineering solutions” such as extending yellow lights by 1 second or more, to improve safety at these intersections.

    Council also must have a public hearing before making a decision about red light cameras. If Council fails to address all expressed concerns AND have a public hearing, citizens will be left to assume that this not about safety, it’s about revenue.

  18. Ron –
    Just the other day, I was on 212th waiting to turn left onto 76th and watched an eastbound driver run the red light.
    Christine – I always drive with my headlights on… and one of my major pet peeves is drivers not using them on rainy days.

    Here’s some background information about automated traffic safety cameras including the appropriate RCW section.

  19. I drive a loud, fast car and generally do the speed limit – occasionally 10 mph on arterials. I see your looks. I feel your glares. I’ve even stopped to challenge a man’s argument on Bowdoin once. I sound fast at 20 mph. I’m sure these red light camera will nab me at some point, and I already avoid speeding in school zones.
    If you’re going to hold me to a limit please hold others to the same limit. Have you ever seen somebody paralyzed with fear whether to commit to a decision? Whether to pull all the way into QFC or just hang half way out into 79th? Perhaps you’ve seen somebody cut across several lanes of traffic because the ferry lane is actually way over there. These people frustrate me, so I express my displeasure by roaring past them with my noisy car. Rhoda 1 and CatLady (plates) doing 22 in a 40 zone down Edmonds Way on a sunny Wednesday is unacceptable. Unfortunately there is no traffic cam for the overly cautious, timid, or indecisive.

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