Redmond's first-ever city initiative targets red light cams

Redmond's first-ever city initiative targets red light cams »Play Video
Tim Eyman (left) and Scott Harlan (right) begin collecting signatures on a petition to ban red light cameras in Redmond.
REDMOND, Wash. - One man's passion against red light cameras has turned into a petition drive in Redmond. And it's being backed by another man made famous for many petition drives of his own.

"It just doesn't feel right," says Redmond resident Scott Harlan, who was upset after the Redmond City Council voted 7-0 in favor of installing four sets of red light cameras as part of a 12-month pilot program.

The cameras went hot Feb. 1.

Feeling like the council was ignoring his opposition to the cameras, Harlan turned to a guy who likes to wear a red light camera on his head - initiative gadfly Tim Eyman.

The two began gathering signatures on the petitions on Saturday.

"Two weeks ago, I didn't have initiative language, didn't have a process - and Tim has helped me to get to that point," says Harlan. "This puts it on the ballot and lets the voters get a chance to vote on it."

Eyman is throwing his initiative expertise and showmanship behind Harlan's opposition to the cameras by co-authoring the initiative to ban red light cameras in Redmond.

The initiative is officially titled Redmond Initiative No. 1 - meaning it is the first-ever initiative in the history of the city of Redmond.

"Every single city in the state of Washington says we start out with a pilot," says Eyman. "That's how Lynnwood started, and now cameras are absolutely everywhere. And the question is - does Redmond want to become another Lynnwood."

Although Eyman can be a polarizing figure, he's fought red light cameras in the past, and his initiatives have been successful.

His initiative to ban red light cameras in his home city of Mukilteo won by nearly a 4-to-1 margin in November. Eyman is supporting a push for similar initiatives in Monroe, Bellingham, Longview, Wenatchee - and now Redmond.

"Cameras are the crack cocaine for cities," says Eyman. "Once they get hooked on the money they can't get off of it. It's that's perennial argument red light opponents have used everywhere."

But Redmond Police Chief Ron Gibson says the cameras are about improving safety.

"It's absolutely a pilot program, and it's about traffic safety," he says.

Gibson says it is too early to tell if the cameras are deterring red light runners.

And as for the money, he says, "It's not going to come to the general fund to be used for the police department or for some other project other than traffic safety improvements in our city."

Petition drive supporters need to collect roughly 3,900 signatures by June 1 to get the measure on the November ballot.