Kennewick City Council shies from red light cameras

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 6, 2013 

Tom Staly's request for Kennewick to consider installing red light cameras at city intersections wasn't immediately embraced by the Kennewick City Council on Tuesday.

Staly of Kennewick told the council he is concerned with the frequency of drivers running red lights in the city.

But Kennewick Mayor Steve Young said the cost of adding red light cameras is high, and previously the public has not been supportive of the idea. It's a topic the council has considered in the past.

City Manager Marie Mosley said a contractor wouldn't even consider coming to Kennewick to install red light cameras unless other cities in the region also wanted to install them.

That isn't something Mosley said she has talked about with other cities. But Young said he will bring up the topic to the Tri-City mayors during their next meeting.

Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg said Kennewick police continue to do traffic enforcement with a special emphasis, such as red light violations.

Even though the city's population has increased, injury and collision rates have declined during the past decade, Hohenberg said. He credited improved streets for helping with that.

Red light cameras also take away officer discretion, an important part of generating community trust when it comes to traffic enforcement, Hohenberg said. Everyone who runs a red light gets cited, but pulling a driver over might result in a conversation that could change a driver's habits, though not necessarily a fine, he said.

Staly asked the council to find some way to alter driver behavior when it comes to red lights. He called running red lights a "significant" problem.

Councilman Don Britain said he sees people blatantly disregard red lights when they are making left turns.

He said he wouldn't mind having the city earn the reputation of giving tickets for red light violations.

Also Tuesday:

w The Kennewick City Council unanimously approved the parking and development agreements needed as part of the closing of the purchase and sale agreement for the hotel attached to the Three Rivers Convention Center.

Vijay Patel, president of A-1 Hospitality of Kennewick, plans to build a 102-room hotel that connects to the convention center, which officials say will make the convention center more competitive for conventions and other events.

An operating agreement still needs to be approved before the sale can close, according to officials.

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