This week, the City Council meets Tuesday instead of Monday, and the afternoon agenda has several items of West Seattle interest. Biggest among them: The bill to authorize enforcement cameras on the West Seattle low bridge. SDOT first mentioned the plan for them in June. The general authorization is under state legislation authored by local State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, passed last session on the second try, but now the city has to change its laws to make it happen. The meeting documents include some numbers of interest: The city projects the enforcement cameras will bring in more than $2 million in revenue next year, but the council-staff memo says that won’t be going to general SDOT coffers:
Under the state law, only warning notices with no monetary penalty are allowed in 2020, and fines of up to $75 per infraction are allowed beginning in 2021. After paying for administrative costs, half of the remaining funds are to be remitted to the state’s Cooper Jones active transportation safety account, which the state uses to fund grant projects or programs for bicycle, pedestrian, and non-motorist safety improvements. The remaining half of the funds may only be used for transportation improvements that support equitable access and mobility for persons with disabilities.
The initial cost to set up two cameras will be $29,000, and that will come out of the initial $70 million bridge-related funding recently approved by the council. The documents also say the cameras will cost $4,000 a month to operate. And the council staff memo notes one other cost:
Citations from cameras are required to be reviewed by a Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer for a ticket to be issued. In 2020, the pilot program can make use of existing officers that are currently funded through the school zone camera program, as COVID-19 has suspended school zone camera enforcement activity. Staffing needs for any expansion of the program in 2021 and 2022 would need to be addressed in subsequent budget proposals.
That “expansion” would likely be elsewhere in the city, as it’s noted in agenda documents that “SDOT plans to roll out cameras at locations in 2021 to enforce bus lane and ‘block the box’ restrictions.” The low-bridge camera bill is on the agenda for the 2 pm Tuesday council meeting; the agenda explains how to comment, during or before the meeting, and how to watch/listen.