Followup: SPD activates automated speed camera by Gatewood Elementary

November 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm | In Gatewood, Safety, West Seattle news | 41 Comments

Back in August, we brought you first word that Seattle Police planned to place the city’s first fixed automated speed-detection cameras in school zones including Fauntleroy Way SW by Gatewood Elementary. SPD has just announced that camera and three others around the city are officially in operation as of today – read about it on SPD Blotter. There’s been a speed-camera-equipped van in the area for the past four years – and it’s the subject of this hot topic on the WSB Forums – but no fixed cameras till now. SPD says violations caught on the new camera will be “warnings only” until November 26th, when school reopens following the Thanksgiving break. That’s when ticketing – $189 per – will kick in.

41 Comments

  1. Uh…remember that the speed limit is in effect immediately as you reach the school zone sign. I received a $189 ticket for going 4 mi over the speed limit as I was slowing down and passed the “zone” sign…ugh, my own fault.

    Comment by Heather — 2:39 pm November 1, 2012 #

  2. Yay for speed cameras! Now if we can just get some for Admiral Way, 35th SW and Beach Drive, maybe we can calm down some of the automaniacs out there!

    Comment by Citizen Sane — 2:46 pm November 1, 2012 #

  3. $189 seems excessive to me.

    Comment by sna — 2:48 pm November 1, 2012 #

  4. Is the camera on 35th at OLG operational yet?

    Comment by Nitro — 2:53 pm November 1, 2012 #

  5. I am totally and completely opposed to speed cameras. I wonder if anyone knows of momentum from any organization to vote down such nonsense?

    Comment by Lfauntleroy — 2:54 pm November 1, 2012 #

  6. There is no fixed camera there. The speed van works various areas on 35th (not sure about elsewhere). What’s mentioned in the SPD release are the only four installed, so far, they say. That’s what the forum discussion I linked to is about – somebody got a ticket from the speed VAN, for 25 mph.

    Comment by WSB — 3:11 pm November 1, 2012 #

  7. Pretty simple watch your speed– be aware of where you are — SLOW DOWN in school zones! Yes $189 might seem excessive–but maybe will act as a deterrent .

    Comment by Anne — 3:20 pm November 1, 2012 #

  8. I agree with Anne; if you’re not paying attention to your speed in a school zone (or any residential area for that matter), you may not notice the child walking across the street either. OTOH, you will notice a nearly $200 fine. Don’t want a fine? Pay attention to your driving; it’s simple, really. I’ve been driving for 35+ years and have never received a speeding ticket; it can be done.

    Comment by Citizen Sane — 3:48 pm November 1, 2012 #

  9. If you’re focusing on your speedometer to avoid going 4mph over 20mph then you’re most likely not able to focus on the kid crossing the road.

    Comment by mike — 4:07 pm November 1, 2012 #

  10. Mike, if you can’t control your car at a speed at or just under the speed limit, and still maintain a watch for pedestrians and other hazards, give up your keys; you’re simply not competent to drive. Driving is a privilege that comes with a demand for a base level of competency and responsibility; it is not an entitlement.

    Comment by Citizen Sane — 4:21 pm November 1, 2012 #

  11. Just one more step toward big brother

    Comment by Yikes — 4:34 pm November 1, 2012 #

  12. @Anne, @ Citizen Sane. It’s not that simple. We all have a Constitutional right to confront our accuser, but how are we to confront a machine? Say the camera/system is out of whack and it adds 5 mph to every reading it takes. You drive by once a day for a week at the speed limit but the camera tickets you each time. You can’t face the camera in court, which is the problem. These cameras should be replaced by an officer to protect kids and our rights.

    Comment by Ixobbp — 4:44 pm November 1, 2012 #

  13. @LFauntleroy “such nonsense” ? You obviously don’t have kids. The speed cameras are there to save lives, not to make money. Come watch the people speeding by our school on Delridge, then tell me that it’s “nonsense.”

    Comment by STEM Parent — 5:16 pm November 1, 2012 #

  14. Can I just say, I’m sick of hearing about “constitutional rights”? This is a great country and I love living here BUT, sometimes Americans take this “constitutional right” thing too far. Do you have a constitutional right to run over my kid?

    Comment by STEM Parent — 5:21 pm November 1, 2012 #

  15. This has nothing to do with protecting kids and everything to do with the city trying to make money. Are the red light cameras protecting people? I think not. In fact, red light cameras make those intersections more dangerous but it doesn’t matter as long as the city makes money off of it and doesn’t have to pay an officer to patrol those intersections. Just like everything else we are relying more and more on machines to do work people should be doing and its all to make a buck while spending as little as possible. Pretty soon machines and computers will do everything for us and no one will have a job and we’ll all wonder why. Btw I would be pretty upset if I were from out of town and by the time I realized I was in a school zone it was too late and this machine was taking my picture to ticket me. All of us that live around here know where all the school zones are but this speed camera idea seems pretty unfair to those who aren’t from here.

    Comment by a — 6:20 pm November 1, 2012 #

  16. I drive 35th weekday mornings and few cars slow down at the school zone just south of morgan. Even if those lights aren’t flashing there are kids out and school busses running. Sometimes you don’t see kids til halfway through the zone. I get dirty looks from other cars and tailgated on a regular basis following the limit. And there are two zones on roxbury between 35th and 16th.

    Comment by Carole — 6:31 pm November 1, 2012 #

  17. I drive past Gatewood almost every morning during school hours and have been watching for the cameras to be activated. This morning I saw the southbound lane camera flash 4 different times – just in the time it took me to pass through the zone going northbound. Every one of these cars had slowed down for the school zone and appeared to me to be driving at a safe speed (admittedly – tough for me to judge while driving northbound). I imagine most, if not all, of those drivers will be surprised when the warning arrives in their mail.

    That said, I expect the cameras will have the desired effect and regular drivers will start to pay closer attention as they pass through this zone. I just hope they catch the guy who last school year flew past me in the center turn lane because I had slowed down for the school zone. C’mon karma.

    Comment by LP — 6:55 pm November 1, 2012 #

  18. The fine should be $1000

    Comment by Brian — 7:11 pm November 1, 2012 #

  19. For the people who think $189 if fair for going 24 in a 20, should we also raise parking tickets from $30-$40 to $189 as well?

    if you don’t get a ticket for going 65 in a 60 zone, why should you get a ticket for going 24 in a 20?

    Why would you slow down a major street like 35th to 20mph? Because a school happens to be there? Are the kids inside the school usually?

    If thats the case shouldnt the speed limit for ALL streets be 20mph? Because kids live in the houses next to the street? Because you know, kids are in the street all the time? Especially when its rainy?

    Comment by steve — 7:52 pm November 1, 2012 #

  20. The problem with this situation is that it’s not possible to tell if the lights are flashing until you’re already in the zone. The corner and trees are such that the lights are not visible to indicate that it’s 20 MPH, rather than 30 MPH until one is already in the ticket zone. Also, I have been driving by that area at 3:45 PM for years, and have NEVER ONCE seen an elementary school child on that stretch. The school is ABOVE this road, and all the school-related traffic is east of this stretch. Nevertheless, I’m glad to go 20 MPH if kids are in the vicinity, but it would be VERY helpful for the blog to post the hours during which the lights will be flashing, particularly for the afternoon window, since there is no standardized dismissal time among West Seattle elementaries.

    Comment by WestSeattleNeighbor — 8:54 pm November 1, 2012 #

  21. So drop down to 15 mph BEFORE you hit the school zone and this won’t be a problem. There is no issue here.

    Comment by Joe — 9:58 pm November 1, 2012 #

  22. 3:45 is too long after dismissal to see kids crossing. It’s really not that hard to slow down. I’d try 30 minutes before start time and 30 minutes after just to be safe.

    Bell Schedule
    Start Time: 8:40 am
    End Time: 2:50 pm

    Comment by mae64 — 10:00 pm November 1, 2012 #

  23. STEM Parent! Yes I have kids and as a matter of fact I drive slowly through the Gatewood zone to and then past STEM school every morning and afternoon on my way to work at a school where I also drive carefully and slowly. Then I drive into yet another separate school zone to pick up my daughter where we drive carefully and slowly through 3 other school zones before leaving WS to get her to after school commitments. So there!! And, I don’t need a camera taking photos to slow down. Comment by a is right. These cameras have nothing to do with protecting kids and everything to do with money. I am all for human officers ticketing speeding in school zones. If you think these cameras are going to protect kids on that street from crazy drivers you are sadly mistaken.

    Comment by Lfauntleroy — 10:57 pm November 1, 2012 #

  24. Ooh, we need one of those on Boren.

    Comment by evergreen — 11:00 pm November 1, 2012 #

  25. @Lfauntleroy

    I disagree.

    But thank you for driving slowly and carefully past STEM.

    Comment by STEM Parent — 11:48 pm November 1, 2012 #

  26. We need one of those at Arbor Heights. .
    .
    Though, it’s almost always the PARENTS I see regularly speeding to/from drop offs at school, along 104th and of course on 35th. Moms in mini vans yapping on their phones are the worst offenders when it comes to speeding &/or not paying attention in general in the school zones. Some will flip you off and try to mow you down when you don’t go fast enough for them as they practically fling their kids out of their vehicles curbside for drop off, barely slowing to see if the kid is clear from the fender before speeding off again. And no, I’m not exaggerating.
    .
    I’m not a proponent of fixed cameras (I too believe they are strictly about revenue, not about saving lives), but since we don’t have enough officers to patrol & ticket our school zones & major traffic thoroughfares every single day, all day, busting speeders (texters, eaters, radio fiddlers, hair brushers, make-up putter on-ers, etc.), then what can we do to get people to SLOW DOWN? Clearly nothing else seems to get people’s attention except hefty fines, since I continue to witness so many parents driving like bats out of hell in their own kids’ school zones (and on their own residential streets) with no regard whatsoever.
    .
    Hope the camera experiment works out for Gatewood. If it gets people to slow the heck down (what are we all in such a hurry for anyway?!) then that’s a good thing IMO.

    Comment by Cheryl — 12:34 am November 2, 2012 #

  27. I agree that it would be a better solution to have a person giving tickets in each location rather than a camera, but this its a good start. The real problem is that too many drivers have the narcisistic (spelling?) view that they are too important to follow the rules. If anyone is interested, the lawstates that anytime a child is present in a school zone, the or the lights are flashing, the speed limit is 20 mph or posted speed. This includes 4 pm on a Sunday, the police don’t usually enforce that though.

    Comment by ChuckyChz — 5:18 am November 2, 2012 #

  28. Could WSB please confirm and post the exact timing of when these lights should be flashing on weekday afternoons? If Gatewood ends at 2:50, then shouldn’t the lights be off by 3:30 or so? What’s the standard for how long they stay on? When I drive by between 3:30 and 3:45, they are still flashing.

    Comment by WestSeattleNeighbor — 6:30 am November 2, 2012 #

  29. I drive through two school zones every day and for those of you who think it is confusing, or they were only 5 over the one time, or it isn’t right so therefore I don’t have to follow the speed limit “I never see kids there”- you are nuts!!!!
    Slow down!
    I see kids at the OLG site all the time. You might be going to fast too notice. I see them on Fauntleroy at Gatewood as well.
    What is most ridiculous are the comments where it is clear the person knows there is a school zone but then in the same whine they say it is not well marked to excuse themselves. Um. Ok.
    If you don’t want a ticket on grounds it is purely for revenue, here is a great idea for you- slow down.

    Comment by Slow it down — 9:09 am November 2, 2012 #

  30. I have a family member who works in the industry that builds these types of speed control devices. and yes, it is all about revenue generation. The trailer mounted speed monitors have been so effective in reducing speeds, that many cities and towns have removed them because speeding ticket revenues have dropped by as much as 70%, leading to reduced hours and shifts for public employees. So, out went the trailers and back came the radar guns to protect JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! I may be wrong, but I don’t recall reading about any kids getting run over in that area within the last 10 or 20 years, so to me, this is an over-the-top solution to an issue that could be dealt with in far less punitive ways, such as better marked cross-walks & signals, cutting back bushes near corners, etc., etc. But, front-end, proactive solutions don’t generate many tickets.

    Comment by pjmanley — 12:00 pm November 2, 2012 #

  31. @STEM parent: All state action against the citizenry is both authorized and limited by our state and federal constitutions. If it’s your government that’s doing it, it needs to be constitutional. If keeping government honest is “taking things too far,” I guess the bill of rights just isn’t of much value to you. Whatever.

    Comment by pjmanley — 12:27 pm November 2, 2012 #

  32. Slow it Down- Yes, many school zones are busy, and yes, drivers should slow down when children are present. Absolutely! But that’s not at question here. The question at hand specifically relates to the stretch of Fauntleroy west of Gatewood Elementary. The issues are A) whether the flashing school sign is visible in time to reduce to the correct speed, and B)whether the lights are still flashing beyond the time when children are likely to be present, and C) the ethics and issues related to photo cameras, rather than cops. I’m afraid pjmanley is right on target with her observations. In fact, I think it’s possible that the lights are left flashing well after kids are out of the area, specifically to increase the number of tickets that are able to be given.

    Comment by WestSeattleNeighbor — 12:33 pm November 2, 2012 #

  33. Thanks pjmanley!! @STEM parent – I sure hope you drive as slowly past schools other than your own child’s school zone. There are all sorts of rights that could be chipped away at in the guise of saving lives. I’m not even going to start naming them. When we become lazy and decide that it is ok to let government take away our rights out of fear……well that is really scary. If you give up and just say well it’s ok because Im fearful for the children then there is no hope for finding a constitutional alternative that could be just as safe.

    Comment by Lfauntleroy — 1:04 pm November 2, 2012 #

  34. What I don’t understand is why the school zone speed limit is enforced the whole school day and not just when kids are outside and may be crossing the street. Once school starts and the kids are inside why do we have to drive 20mph by the school? I’m all about protecting the kids but I don’t think you can hit a kid when they are inside a school. Also, these kids are still on school grounds for recess. They never leave school grounds until school gets let out so why is the speed limit enforced the whole day? It should be enforced one hour before school starts till an hour after it starts then again once school is out for 45 minutes after it gets out

    Comment by a — 4:34 pm November 2, 2012 #

  35. The reason its enforced all day is not for the safety of the children but rather to stuff the pockets of the city. The city is looking for new ways to screw us out of our money and this is one of them. Only gonna get worse until we stand up for ourselves and fight back against this b.s.. Hopefully one day you overprotective parents will see that the city doesn’t give a crap about your kids. They are in this to make money! Teach your kids how to properly cross the street and you won’t have to rely on the cash cow that is our government to protect them

    Comment by a — 5:54 pm November 2, 2012 #

  36. Just adhere to speed limit laws folks…simple

    Comment by Sharon Akers — 9:29 pm November 2, 2012 #

  37. I picked my son up at OLG Parking lot and had a photo snapped immediately when I started driving. The truck in front of me when I pulled out was flying. I tried to get close enough to get the plate or name so if I get a ticket I can fight it, but I was only going about 12 miles an hour and couldn’t catch him.I didn’t even know they had a camera there. Today when I went by, It kept taking pictures of every car. What does that mean?

    Comment by Barb Korducki — 10:16 pm November 2, 2012 #

  38. we should all have cameras on us at all times. that way you can see what i had for breakfast on my lunch break. Patrol the area and do real work. sitting there racking up tickets all day while eating krispy kream is not my idea of police WORK. i agree that people shouldnt speed trough school zones, but this is silly and a waste of tax dollars.

    Comment by aw — 6:53 am November 3, 2012 #

  39. Barb’s experience is a great example of why this is not just a simple matter of slowing down or driving the limit. At least at the moment only warnings are being issued. When real tickets are being issued and mistakes are made, people are going to get stuck with undeserved fines/dings on their record/higher insurance, etc. The onus will be on the individual to fight the city on it. That means spending half a day at court trying to persuade a judge that the machine made a mistake. Not easy. This is a big mistake all around.

    Comment by WestSeattleNeighbor — 7:23 am November 3, 2012 #

  40. If you’re wondering, here’s a link to the locations of all four permanent Seattle cameras:

    http://tinyurl.com/SeattlePermSchoolSpeedCams

    Comment by FYI — 7:35 am November 4, 2012 #

  41. Thanks, FYI. Only four locations in the whole city, and this is one…Why?? Also, the information on the link says: Flashing lights in school zones DURING SCHOOL HOURS show when the cameras are active. Could the WSB please try to find out how the active hours are determined at the Fauntleroy location? Why are the lights on Fauntleroy still flashing after 3:30, when school dismissal is at 2:50? Other than the city’s interest in making extra $$, of course. I could understand a 20-30 minute window before and after school, but not much more.

    Comment by WestSeattleNeighbor — 12:06 pm November 4, 2012 #

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