Back in 2010, about the time I began studying red-light cameras, I posted a critique of the MRCA’s stop sign camera scam on my other blog, The Freedom Minute , entitled The $100 Stop Sign Scam. (It’s now $175) That post generated more comments than all other posts combined and it’s still going. I posted the following two pictures taken at Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park at the top of Reseda Blvd in Tarzana.
Here’s what I wrote back then: “You can plainly see that the stop sign sits pretty much in the middle of the road. There’s no cross street, no crosswalk, no intersection; no chance that any vehicle or pedestrian will cross your path. In fact, there’s absolutely no reason at all to have a stop sign here. And since there’s no common sense reason to stop, other than if you don’t, you’ll get a $175 ticket; many motorists only slow down rather than come to a complete stop.”
Well apparently the MRCA got tired of taking the heat about the placement of this stop sign and camera, so they now moved it up the hill further into the parking area.
As you can see, it’s still pretty much in the middle of the road, not at any intersection. But in order to try to justify ticketing drivers $175 if they slowly roll past the sign, the MRCA painted a crosswalk there. Of course there’s no valid reason to have a crosswalk at that location, other than the MRCA needing an excuse to generate millions of dollars in revenue from unsuspecting park visitors.
But if you are unconvinced that revenue generation is their only motive, just take a look at this series of pictures.
In the first, you can see that the crosswalk really doesn’t lead to anything on the other side of the road.
And for years, there was no need for a crosswalk in this location. The next two pictures show the area in 2010 and how it appears today in 2012.
In this aerial view, you can see the entire stretch of the roadway before the crosswalk and cameras were put in. The red arrow shows the approximate location of where the crosswalk and cameras were installed.
So for decades, up until the time the MRCA decided they needed an excuse to continue running their stop sign camera scam in the parking area of the Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park at the top of Reseda Blvd., the park visitors managed perfectly fine without a crosswalk there. But now they have one. A crosswalk to nowhere. One that will cost you $175 if you’re unlucky enough to get caught slowing rolling past a stop sign that isn’t justified by any traffic engineering protocol.
By the way, contrary to the self serving comments made by MRCA spokeswoman Dash Stolarz in the recent L.A. Weekly Article, if you do happen to get an MRCA camera ticket in the mail, the readers of my Freedom Minute blog have universally stated that when they ignored the ticket, it was sent to a collection agency, but not reported on their credit report. So essentially, there isn’t any consequence if you toss it in the trash. (I can’t advise you to do that, but that’s what people have been doing, although it’s always possible things could change.)
And just a note to those who have made comments on the L.A. Weekly Article that “you should just stop at the stop sign”. This isn’t about whether or not you should or shouldn’t stop. It’s about a rogue governmental agency acting beyond its legal authority and setting traps for park visitors. (I’ll cover the illegality of the MRCA’s actions in a future post.)
There’s a fundamental principle that this country was founded on, and that is that the government isn’t supposed to entrap you into making a mistake just so it can collect its pound of flesh. We have a right to expect that the government, which wields great power over its citizens, will treat them fairly. Slowly rolling a stop sign that is properly placed (the MRCA stop signs aren’t) is very minor technical violation, akin to going 2 or 3 miles over the speed limit. Yes, it’s technically breaking the law, but society doesn’t expend any energy to go after everyone who does it, partially because it truly is everyone, and it doesn’t make any difference in terms of safety. The mere fact that the MRCA has given out tens of thousands of tickets for this minor transgression, yet there has never been an accident or injury either before or after the cameras were installed, should tell you just how dangerous this really isn’t. Granted we don’t want to encourage people to do it, but we also don’t need the government lying in wait just to catch us stepping out of line. That’s not the kind of society I want to live in, do you?