FOLLOWUP: Warning period recalibrated for West Seattle’s new speed-camera zone. Also: New price for school-zone tickets

Once it was determined that Seattle Public Schools would start this past Thursday, we published a reminder about West Seattle’s new speed camera zone, its fourth one, on Delridge Way SW by Louisa Boren STEM K-8 and interim Arbor Heights Elementary (as first confirmed in June). We have since obtained followup information about the warning period for that camera – and it includes news of the new increased fine for school-zone speeding. From Chris Steel of SPD’s speed-camera program:

The new sites [this one and others in the city] will have a 30-day warning period starting on the first day of school, 9/17/15. Drivers who exceed the posted speed limit while the school zone beacons are active will receive a Courtesy Warning Notice. This notice explains the school zone safety program and advises the driver:

· This is a Courtesy Warning Only
· There is No Penalty for this Notice
· These is No Response needed
· This Notice will not be reported to the Department of Licensing

The notice goes further on to explain that once the warning period ends, the current fine for this violation is $234. This is an increase from last school year as mandated by the Washington Supreme Court and in effect as of July 1, 2015.

Again, the “grace period” applies only to the ticketing *camera* in the STEM/AH zone – if an officer tickets you, or if you get an in-person or camera ticket in any other flashing-beacon school zone, it’s official from the school year’s start. (Here’s the map of speed cameras citywide – West Seattle has three that were in use before this school year, Fauntleroy Way SW near Gatewood Elementary and two on SW Roxbury, by Roxhill Elementary and Holy Family School.)

14 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Warning period recalibrated for West Seattle's new speed-camera zone. Also: New price for school-zone tickets"

  • chemist September 19, 2015 (1:14 pm)

    So a school speed zone ticket is different from a municipality-controlled speed camera ticket ? KIRO was saying the increase was $12 added to the base to fund court computer upgrades. Also… the fine was $189 last year so I’m not sure how this decision accounts for a $45 increase.
    Tickets involving red light and speeding cameras will also not cost more because those are setup and controlled by municipalities and not the state.

  • Westie September 19, 2015 (6:33 pm)

    How does a $45 increase happen when the base rate of moving violations only increased $12 ?

  • Bree September 19, 2015 (7:14 pm)

    Could the tree be trimmed by West Seattle High School so the warning lights can be seen sooner? Thanks.

  • WC Ron September 19, 2015 (7:32 pm)

    Went by the camera by Gatewood Elementary during the strike and the cameras were taking pictures. No students or teachers in sight.

    • WSB September 19, 2015 (7:37 pm)

      Yes, we discussed that in traffic coverage a couple times during the strike days. The cameras – as well as the beacons – were pre-programmed for the scheduled dates of the school year. If anyone actually receives a ticket for one of those days, they aren’t supposed to be enforced or charged. – TR

  • MSW September 19, 2015 (10:47 pm)

    $234 seems excessive. I guess the corporations who supply these cameras need to make their profits.

  • Please Slow Down September 20, 2015 (8:05 am)

    It’s probably so expensive because speeding past a school is uniquely bad behavior. We live just south of WS High and I’ve several near-tragedies.

  • mtnfreak September 20, 2015 (8:37 am)

    I’d argue that anyone getting a speeding ticket in a school zone deserves what’s coming to them, including the $234 fine. I’m not a parent, but in my first career I was a paramedic, and I can still vividly remember my first pedestrian vs auto call. And yes, children were involved. That was 1994.

    What I’d really like to see is the speed limit simply be set to 20mph at all times in school zones, with a speed bump at the beginning and the end of the zone to get peoples attention. I would prefer that to this special-speed-limit-when-school-might-be-in-session system we have now.

  • AJP September 20, 2015 (9:28 am)

    @Please Slow Down @ mtnfreak Amen and Amen!!!!

  • Diane September 21, 2015 (1:59 pm)

    NOT everyone getting a ticket in a school zone deserves it
    if they really care about people slowing down, people need to be able to see the signage
    if they’re charging $234 per car, even those going 21mph; spend a few bucks on cutting back the trees so people can see the signs
    WARNING to everyone re these school zone photo-enforced zones; yes the ticket has gone up; yes there are speed traps for people not familiar with certain areas because of signage NOT visible until you’re too far into it to slow down to 20
    I went through 3 months of hell over one of these school zone photo tickets; mine happened in Beacon Hill, on my way to a child care job in Hillman City, on June 1; photo ticket came in mail 2 ½ weeks later, with $189 ticket
    I was shocked, because I drive SO SLOW, like the little old lady I am; I do not speed; I’m the one that makes speeders angry because I drive the speed limit; I’m the one with line of cars behind me coming down Admiral, because I’m observing the 30mph speed limit
    by the time I was able to see the school zone signs, that read “when children are present”; I looked all around; not a single human being anywhere; even the photos sent with the ticket, which shows vast area around my car; no children present; no people present
    first thing after getting this crazy ticket in the mail; I went back over to this location and took photos; I contend that area IS a speed trap, because the school zone signage is ALL hidden by trees, until you’re about 10 car lengths before the crosswalk; and in that area, you’re coming down a steep hill from 15th, down Orcas, in a residential 30mph zone; the steep hill makes speed increase; unless you can see the 20mph signs to put on your brakes, YOU CANNOT go 20; your speed is likely to be 30
    no doubt, most people with M-F day jobs cannot afford to take time off work to fight these unfair tickets (it is unfair if you cannot see the signs); they just pay; and I’ve watched city council talk about the revenue generated; MILLIONS
    I fought it; got legal advice at the Sr Ctr; did my research; took photos of street, coming down the hill where signage is NOT VISIBLE at all
    it took 2 months for a court date; clearly the judge was impressed with what I provided and offered me to take it to contested hearing, but that would drag it out at least 2 more months; I didn’t want to deal with it anymore and opted for reduced $95 and community service (9 hours at $11/hr) which took another month of bureaucracy and finding a place to allow me to volunteer; I couldn’t find any place in WS that would let me do just 9 hrs, so I did my community service downtown at WA Talking Book & Braille Library, which in the end, was a fabulous experience
    my judge at the court house also warned me the photo-enforced school zone tickets will be $230+
    and btw, I was only going 27 (believing I was in a residential 30 zone); if I had been really speeding, going 45 or 50; same amount on ticket
    so apparently, if the camera catches you going even 21 mph in a photo-enforced school zone; you will get a lovely $234 ticket in the mail
    and apparently the city does not care that the signage is NOT visible; they do not care if you cannot see “school zone ahead”; so BEWARE out there
    yes, slow down; and beware that even if you are driving slow, you can get a $234 ticket

    • WSB September 22, 2015 (10:44 am)

      Just to circle back for anyone re-checking this thread … I heard back from Chris Steel at SPD:

      The WA Supreme Court increased the base penalty to $48. Under RCW 46.61.440 concerning the penalty for speeding in a school zone section (3) indicates an infraction will be assessed a monetary penalty equal to twice the penalty. This would mean that the base penalty for a school zone infraction would be $48×2=$96. The total calculation is as follows:

      Base Penalty = $96
      Public Safety & Education Fund (105% of base rounded up) = $101
      Legislative Assessment = $20
      Trauma Fund = $5
      Auto Theft Fund = $10
      Traumatic Brain Injury Fund = $2

      Total = $234

      You can also find it in this lookup, searching for SMC 11.52.100 –
      And just a note, regarding links from other media outlets that we now have confirmed were incorrect or short on information … not to deeply dis my fellow journalists but we don’t quote other news services a lot here (unless it’s something incontrovertible like a live stream of something happening – this morning, for example, the Chinese president arriving at Paine Field) because we can’t vouch for their work. Some reporters are awesome. Some are not. At least one link in a comment submitted for consideration in this thread but not published, for example, was for a story by someone whose work I know firsthand to be frequently erroneous, a “reporter” who actually plagiarized us (and made the plagiarized content erroneous in the process!) flagrantly earlier this year. We’re not perfect but we work really hard to get to the accurate heart of the info, as we’re doing here – Tracy

  • chemist September 21, 2015 (5:14 pm)

    mtnfreak, for excessive speeding in a school zone, I don’t disagree with a high fine. However, in Seattle a ticket for 2 mph over is as much as 20 mph over. In Kent it’s $128 for 1-9 mph over and $ 248 for 10 mph+ over, at least according to a KentReporter article from July 28. That brings the penalty more in line with what a speeding ticket costs, traditionally.

  • chemist September 22, 2015 (2:31 pm)

    Tracy, I appreciate your efforts to get the full breakdown of the fine. It’s interesting to read the concerns of the dissenting opinions from the supreme court and how a 14% $6 inflationary increase in a base fee ends up multiplying through doubling statutes and indexed penalties into a 24% increase in the ticket received.

    It’s interesting how one could get a red light camera fine at, say, 35th and Thistle going 30 mph through a red intersection and that’s only about half the fine of only slowing to, say, 23 mph in a 20 mph school zone.

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