If the governor has his way, cities and counties will take red-light cameras to a new level.
Under the plan, the cameras would also be radar-equipped and would clock drivers for speeding. While supporters are calling it an extra traffic-safety measure, critics think it's a revenue-raising scheme.
Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneggar's latest budget proposal, 500 red-light camera intersections throughout California would get speed sensors. The governor's bean counters figure the move could generate $350 million in fines over a year's time.
Delivery driver Michael Sanchez likes the idea.
"For me, it would probably make me a lot safer, because I come into downtown a lot ...," Sanchez said. "I think maybe more knowledge about the cameras and where they are -- people might have more of a sense to slow down in those vicinities where there's more traffic."
Right now, drivers that run a red light at the 15 intersections in San Diego where a camera is recording have to pay a minimum of $436. Motorists who speed through with radar clocking them will pay $225 if they are going up to 15 mph over the limit, and $325 for going even faster.
There is resistance to the idea from a variety of standpoints.
"You get a red-light ticket, it's hard to pay that as it is," said downtown resident Ryan Lane. "Throw a speeding ticket on top of that -- that's just too much, I think."
"I think there's going to be more objections and more issues that come from having to fight these issues than the good that it could possibly do," said Alex Pierson of Crown Point.
"It's definitely a revenue generator," Point Loma resident Victor Ramsauer pointed out. "To hook up a radar and photo enforcement everywhere, it really is like Big Brother watching."
Critics are also questioning the reliability of speed-sensing radar equipment that piggybacks on the photo enforcement system.
"I work until 12 midnight, and I've noticed several times the flashing cameras flashing when there was nobody violating any law," attorney Eugene Ellis said. "But if it's your word against the machine, the machine wins."
Sacramento and the courts figure to make the real money out of this. Their share of red-light traffic fines is just over 61 percent, leaving the city of San Diego with barely enough to cover its program expenses of about $1 million a year.