RED LIGHT CAMERAS
If you haven't already done so, please read the Fremont section on the Camera Towns page
Fremont is a RedFlex
town. Many RedFlex towns send out "Snitch
Tickets," which you can ignore. A Snitch
Ticket will not have the Superior Court's name and
address on it. For more details, see the
Snitch Ticket section on the Your Ticket page.
East Bay Voters:
Please don't vote for him.
Send him back home to his bankruptcy
"According to City of Fremont
Staff, other safety features to improve safety and
discourage red light violations were not considered
prior to the installations of the ARLE systems [red
light cameras] at either study intersection. To
date, the City is satisfied with the operational
benefits of the current ARLE system and have not
explored other possible countermeasures."
New 2-5-17, updated 11-12-17
2015 - 2017:
Ticketing Way Down, Then Way Up, Then Way Down,
Immediately after the new statewide
rule requiring longer yellows took effect on Aug. 1,
2015 (for more info about the new rule see Defect # 2 on
the Home page), Fremont's ticketing dropped to about
half of what it had been, and stayed low through
November 2015. Then in December 2015, ticketing
began to go back up and by February 2016 it had almost
doubled, with most of the sudden increase coming from
two cameras on Mowry. Ticketing by those two
cameras stayed high until November 2016, when it dropped
The wild oscillations in ticketing were
caused by multiple changes to the lengths of the
yellows, as shown in this timeline.
(Table 1, by highwayrobbery.net, updated 11-12-17)
1 notes, by highwayrobbery.net)
In a Feb. 3, 2017 TV interview the
City denied that it had made any changes to the yellows
So, why did the City change the
It all started when the City lengthened
the yellows to 4.7 seconds on Aug. 1, 2015, to meet the
deadline to comply with the new statewide rule requiring
longer yellows. City staff used the 85th% from the
field survey sheet from Mar. 2015; that 47.5 mph 85th%
required a 4.7 yellow.
That 47.5 mph 85th% presented the City
with two problems. The new 4.7
yellows cut ticket production by the two cameras to
1/4 of the previous rate and, had the
47.5 mph 85th% been allowed to remain in the records, it
would have forced an increase of the posted speed limit.
(Image 3, by highwayrobbery.net)
From the Mar. 2015 draft surveys, as annotated (in red) by City staff. Part 1 (17 MB) Part 2 (17 MB)
Next, it appears that someone else - possibly Kimley-Horn, the traffic engineering firm the City hired to do the speed survey project - disagreed with the "downgrade to be consistent with adjacent street segment" excuse for lowering the speed on Mowry. (See NOTES in the Mowry portion of the Re-survey List, imaged below.)
(Image 4, by highwayrobbery.net)
Mowry Portion of Re-survey List dated Sept. 15, 2015 (green shading added)
In November 2015 they published the
"Final" ETS book, and for Mowry it showed (below) that
within nine days of the creation of the Re-survey List
they had re-surveyed Mowry and had managed to obtain an
85th% of 39.0 to replace the 47.5 found in the March
2015 survey sheet. That dramatically lower 85th%
allowed the retention of the 40 mph speed limit called
for in the red ink annotated copy of the March survey
(above), and would later be used as justification for
the Feb. 1, 2016 shortening of the yellows.
(Image 5, by highwayrobbery.net)
From the "Final" ETS book, published Nov. 2015, revision of Feb. 2016. See Note 5 above, for link to the book.
The City was not required to
shorten the yellows to conform with the 39.0 mph 85th%
they published in the "Final" ETS book. It is
optional - CVC 21455.7 says, "A yellow
light change interval may exceed the minimum
interval..." - but on Feb. 1,
2016 they went ahead and shortened the yellows to 4.0,
even though they should have been able to predict that
the dramatically shorter yellows would increase red
light running and make the intersections more dangerous.
In late 2016 the 4.7 yellows came
back! We don't know for sure the date the City
made the change, but the ticket counts suggest it was in
October and some signal
logs (highlighting added by City) say it may have
been Oct. 24. The return to 4.7 yellows may have
happened because City employees became concerned that
they could be prosecuted for switching the
A Fractional Refund - And,
the Yellows Would be Shortened Again
In the Feb. 22 East Bay Times article
where the City first admitted that it had shortened the
yellows - it continued to blame an intern for the error
- it revealed that it would ask the court to refund
approx. 1000 tickets issued during the first two months
after the yellows were shortened. The EBT
The Feb. 22 EBT article also said:
On Mar. 6 the City issued a press
release which said:
An Apr. 13 East Bay Times article quoted the Court as saying that it cannot refund the (approx.) 1000 tickets because the fine money has already been distributed and cannot be retrieved. The Court also announced:
“Institutionally or globally,
we’re not doing anything.“ "If people still feel they
(It should be noted that when the City of South San Francisco had a nearly identical situation, involving 6000 tickets, the city and its superior court were able to arrange a full refund and expungement of all the tickets.)
On May 10, 2017 the City issued a press
release announcing that the City had offered to
refund $147 to 672 of the (approx. 4000) motorists
ticketed. In a story
copy) it broadcast later that day, KTVU
"(Public Works Director) Larsen said the
City can't rebate the entire ticket since 70 percent of it
goes to state and county programs which are out of the
Larsen also claimed:
"There isn't any recourse that we have to
dismiss a ticket that was valid and legally issued."
"It's a challenging issue and there isn't a perfect
(It should be noted - again - that when
the City of South San Francisco had a nearly
identical situation, the city and its superior court
were able to
a full refund and expungement of all the tickets.)
The Refund Shrinks Even
By Nov. 2017 the City had mailed out
244 refund checks totaling $34,983. The City's
logs (linked below) revealed that the City mailed
notifications to only (approx.) half of those who got
tickets during the 2+ month eligibility period listed in
the Mar. 6 press release above.
The press release did not disclose all
the changes, but did say that at the two cameras on
Mowry the yellow would be shortened by 0.2 second, to
4.5, and that on faster streets, the yellows for left
turns would be increased by 0.5 second, to 4.0.
Please contact me.
Now that it is clear that both Fremont
and the Alameda County Court are wiggling out of
refunding the fines and clearing motorists' records, you
should consider contacting your state legislators
(assemblyperson and state senator). And, while you
have them on the phone, please talk to them about the
ongoing legislative efforts to allow speed cameras in
California (photo radar - speeding tickets mailed to
you). (In the 2017 session in Sacramento
there was Assembly Bill 342, and while it did not pass
there could be another attempt, in 2018 or 2019.)
More details are on the Action/Legis page.
The ups and downs were not confined to
Mowry Avenue. See Set # 9, below, about the
cameras on Mission.
If you have a speeding ticket
anywhere in Fremont, you should be concerned as it
wasn't just Mowry Avenue that was re-surveyed in late
2015. Eleven other street segments were
re-surveyed. This table of 85th
Percentile speeds and recommended posted speeds shows
that even though the initial recommendation (probably
by Kimley-Horn, the engineering firm the City hired to
conduct the surveys) was to increase the posted speed
on ten of the twelve segments, when it was all over
there were no increases.
The City used means other than
re-surveying to produce lower-than-recommended speed
limits on the four following segments.
Lakeview (Fremont to Warren), Scott
Creek (Warm Springs to I-680), and Stewart (Albrae to
Boyce) were given speed limits 5 mph lower than those
initially recommended, despite the concerns raised in
the NOTES column of the Re-survey List (link
above). (The initial recommendations, and the
contents of the NOTES column, are believed to be
by Kimley-Horn, the traffic engineering firm
the City hired to do the speed survey project .)
Boscell Road, between Stewart and Auto
Mall: Per the Re-survey List, the City deleted the
two fastest cars from the survey sample - they called
them "outliers" even though they were going only 50 mph
- and by doing so was able to change the 85th% from 40.0
to 39.8, which they used to take the
no-justification-required 5 mph reduction permitted by
CVC 21400(b) after rounding up has occurred.
A similar situation involving the red
light cameras in Oakland pitted the ticket issuers (the
OPD) against the traffic engineers. See Set # 1 on
the Oakland Docs page.
How Much Money Does Fremont Make, and
what have they done to protect that income stream? - Set
# 3, below.
The email linked in Set # 4, below, in
which the Director of Public Works says that the City's
policy is to round yellows up to to the nearest
half-second - which they didn't do on Mowry.
The 2001 ETS Book (link at Note 1)
Table A: 2001 - 2005 monthly ticket
totals, by intersection.
Table A: 2001 - 2005 Tickets
Paid, and Detail for 2005
Total Violations Recorded (some months), Notices Printed, and Citations Paid at Court 
Table A was made by highwayrobbery.net, using official monthly tabulations of citations actually issued.
[ ] indicates a footnote.
 Totals are as provided by the City.
 YTD = Year-to-date total.
 Un-used columns are to allow for later expansion of City's system.
 Any figures in red type (or, if you are looking at this table in black and white, the upper figure when there are two or more figures in a cell) are what RedFlex calls Total Violations, or all incidents recorded by the cameras, and due to time limitations may have been posted only for selected months or locations (or not at all). If there is sufficient public interest, the remaining months will be posted. The figures in black type are what RedFlex calls Notices Printed, and represent the sum of genuine citations issued (those filed with the court) plus Nominations mailed (not filed with the court, a.k.a. Snitch Tickets). Figures in blue type (or, if you are looking at this table in black and white, solely in the rightmost column) are total Cites Paid (at the court), per RedFlex's monthly invoices to the City.
 Camera-by-camera data for these months has not been requested.
 The camera enforcement is on traffic on the first-named street, but the direction of enforcement (north, south, east, west, thru, left) is not yet available, except as noted for October 2005.
 Cites paid from 9-24-00 to 1-31-01.
 Highwayrobbery.net requested details about the first and last 10 tickets issued by each camera during that month. The information posted in italic type shows how many of the 20 tickets were for right turns and how many were for straight-through movements.
Table B: 2001 - 2018 Annual
Totals by Intersection, and 2009 - 2018
Monthly Totals by Intersection.
Table C: 2010 - 2018 Right
Turns on Red, Monthly, for Three Intersections
D: Official Source Documents for Tables A, B and C
2001 - 2009 Annual Reports
2001 - 2005 Reports
2012 Month-by-Month, to Oct.
2012 Right Turns
Nov. 2012 to June 2013 Month-by-Month
July 2013 Report
Aug. 2013 Report
Sept. 2013 Report
Oct. & Nov. 2013 Reports
Dec. 2013 to June 2014 Month-by-Month
July 2014 to Jan. 2015 Month-by-Month
Mar. 2015 to May 2015 Month-by-Month
June 2015 to Mar. 2016 Month-by-Month
Feb. 2015 & Feb. 2016 to June 2016 Month-by-Month
July 2016 to Oct. 2016
Nov. & Dec. 2016 Reports
Jan. 2017 Report
Feb. & Mar. 2017 Reports
Apr. & May 2017 Reports
May, June & July 2017 Reports
July & Aug. 2017 Reports
Sept. & Oct. 2017 Reports
Oct. 2017 to Mar. 2018 Reports
2018 Right Turns
Apr. 2018 to July 2018 Reports
Annual Reports, 2013 Onward, with Breakout by Movement (straight, left, right)
Fremont Docs Set # 3
How Much Money Does Fremont Make?
The City pays RedFlex $600,000 per year (see Set # 6, below). To estimate Fremont's internal costs to run the program (mostly labor), we started with the $222,600 that the City of San Mateo charges the City of Millbrae to process approx. 1600 tickets a month, deducted about 1/3 because Fremont issues fewer tickets than that, and got $144,000. For a total cost of $744,000.
Our Rule of Thumb is that the revenue flowing from the court to a city is about $100 for each red light camera ticket issued, so Fremont's gross revenue has been about $1.1 million annually, against expenses of $744,000, yielding a net profit of $356,000.
What have they done to keep the income up?
When straight-thru ticketing went down, they turned on right turn ticketing. An example of that is on the last page (page 59 of the pdf) of the 2016 DKS study discussed in Set # 9, below.
They haven't explored countermeasures. See Set # 9, below.
They have manipulated the yellows. See Set # 1, above.
Fremont Docs Set # 4
A June 2013 email
from the Public Works Director to a motorist revealed
that only 31% of Fremont's tickets went to City
Food for thought: 31% is
actually rather high; in Menlo Park, only
10% of the tickets go to that City's residents.
Fremont Docs Set # 5
Grand Jury Says: "Don't Hide the Emails"
In 2015 the Alameda County Grand Jury told the City of Fremont that it must cease its practice of destroying emails after 30 days.
If you would like to read some grand jury reports from other counties, about their red light cameras and related issues, see the Grand Jury entry on the Site Index page.
Fremont Docs Set # 6
The Contracts - City Pays More Than Double
Not the City's Official Logo
The original contract was expiring, so at the Sept. 13, 2005 council meeting the City Council approved a new contract with RedFlex. That contract included a unique compensation scheme so complicated that I had trouble telling if it complies with the CVC 21455.5 "pay-per-ticket" prohibition. (See Defect # 10.) Despite the complexity of the contract and its five-year term, there was absolutely no discussion of by the council before they voted to approve it. Staff Report and Minutes
2010: Another New Contract
Here is the staff report for the new seven-year contract which was approved at the June 1, 2010 council meeting.
The new contract reduced the monthly rent for each of the ten existing cameras to $4800. Despite that lower price the City will overpay by $2,352,000 over the seven years (when compared with a $2000 target price - see FAQ # 17).
2013 Amendment to Annual Pricing Adjustment
Early 2013 Invoices showed that the rent had risen to $4995. With that increase, the amount by which the City will overpay during the seven years 2010 - 2017 rose to (at least) $2,445,600. To cover that extra rent, the City will need to issue an extra 24,456 tickets (assuming that the City receives $100 of revenue from each ticket issued).
As of early 2016 the City still was paying $4995 per camera.
The City can cancel the contract anytime, on 10 days notice.
In June 2017 the city manager approved a one-year extension of the contract, which will automatically renew
for two more one year extensions (on June 30, 2018 and June 30, 2019) unless the City gives notice 30 days in advance of those dates.
Fremont Docs Set # 7
Why Do These Intersections Continue To Be So Dangerous?
Despite heavy ticketing for a long time, the cameras at three intersections continue to see unusually high numbers of straight-through violations. On Dec. 30, 2005 I received documents which may explain why.
All three intersections (Mowry at Blacow, Mowry at Farwell, Decoto at Paseo Padre) have 40 mph posted speed limits and, per the signal control charts received from the City, yellows set at 4.0 seconds, 0.1 above the minimum required in a 40 zone. [That was under the old rules, prior to Aug. 1, 2015. Under the new rules the yellow is to be based upon the 85th, rounded up. See Defect # 2, on the Home page.] However, both Mowry and Decoto are high speed streets, and one explanation for high ticket numbers can be a too-low posted speed limit and the too-short yellows that it allows.
Posted speeds are supposed to be determined, and justified, in an engineering survey done every five to seven years. Here are the surveys for Mowry and Decoto.
In these surveys, the "85th Percentile Speed" for the section of Mowry that has cameras is 47, and the 85th for Decoto is 46. By law, the traffic engineer (who writes the survey) is supposed to choose a speed limit that is just below the 85th percentile speed.
(The "85th Percentile Speed" is the speed at or below which 85 percent of the motorists travel, according to survey results.)
However, he can reduce the posted speed by an additional 5 mph increment if he cites, in the survey, a danger that would not be apparent to a driver on the street. That danger could be a hidden driveway, or a higher-than-average accident rate. Using Mowry's 85th as an example, he could post a 45 without giving any justification for doing so. But he could only move the limit down to 40 if he said that there is some non-obvious danger or that there was a higher-than-expected number of accidents - as he has done with Mowry (highlighted). (CVC 22358.5) (You can see an "informal discussion" of the law, in the Speeding Ticket section of the Links page.)
Examining the Surveys
The Decoto survey does not seem to justify the 40 limit posted there - "high pedestrian activity" is something that would be apparent to a driver, and thus is not a legally proper reason to down-rate the speed on a street. If the speed limit was increased to 45, the yellow at the intersection with Paseo Padre would need to be set at a minimum of 4.3 seconds. [That was under the old rules, prior to Aug. 1, 2015. Under the new rules the yellow is to be based upon the 85th, rounded up. See Defect # 2, on the Home page.] This 0.3 increase would cut the number of violations, dramatically - probably in half - and make it a much safer intersection. (For those who would argue that violations would return to former levels after local drivers got used to the longer yellow, see FAQ # 6.)
The Mowry survey cites the "high number of rear-end accidents" as justification for the down-rating to 40 mph. That is a factor that would not be apparent to a driver, so , technically, can be used to justify lowering the limit the extra 5 mph increment - and the short yellow that results. [That was under the old rules, prior to Aug. 1, 2015. Under the new rules the yellow is to be based upon the 85th, rounded up. See Defect # 2, on the Home page.] But the survey was based upon data from 1999 and 2000, just before the cameras were installed on Mowry. In light of the current understanding that red light cameras increase rear-enders, it seems unsafe to maintain short yellows that will cause drivers (those who have had a ticket, or know about the short yellows) to brake abruptly and increase the already-high number of rear-enders.
Additionally, the Mowry survey lists a 50th Percentile Speed of 42 mph. This tells us that the majority of motorists are exceeding the posted speed limit. This is significant because of People v. Goulet, in which the court ruled:
"...[T]he general rule [is that speed limits are to be] set at the 85th percentile speed or within 5 mph under that speed. Some speed limits may be justified because they are set five mph below the general rule, based on higher than expected accident rates or listed hidden hazards. Some speed limits may appeal to be unjustified because:
... 2. The speed limit makes violators of a large percentage of drivers."
*The "85th Percentile Speed" is the speed at or below which 85 percent of the motorists travel, according to survey results.
Fremont Docs Set # 8
"Late Time" Graphs
These graphs track violations recorded, not tickets issued.
Where there is a large number of long Late Time violations in a curb lane, it is believed to indicate heavy ticketing on right turns.
(The curb lane will be the lane with the highest lane number.)
The picture above is an example from another city.
All cameras, July 2012
All cameras, June 2013
Four cameras, late 2013 (AMFR, MIMO, MOFR, STBL)
All cameras, Aug. 2015
All cameras, Aug. 2016
Mission and Mowry, Mar. 2017
All cameras, Sept. 2017
All Cameras, Mar. 2018
Bar graphs are available for more than fifty other cities - see the list in the expanded version of Defect # 9.
Fremont Docs Set # 9
Mission / Mohave and Mission / Warm Springs
Longer Yellows = Much Lower Ticketing, for a While
The Cameras are Not Cutting Angle Crashes
City has No Interest in Non-Camera Countermeasures
Mission Blvd. is a State highway, so CalTrans sets the signal timing.
Portion of Bar Graph - for Full Bar Graph, Click on Link, Below
Full Bar Graph
This graph shows a big drop in running, and citations, after CalTrans lengthened the yellow at Mission/Mohave sometime in Nov. 2010.
The graph suggests that more than half of the Mission/Mohave tickets were unjustified, because the motorist was entrapped by the too-short yellow. Using monthly ticket counts and overall totals from Table B (above), we can see that at least 7874 tickets were issued at Mission/Mohave prior to the lengthening of the yellow. Will the City ever do a refund of the (approx.) 3937 tickets that would not have been issued had the yellow been long enough?
The data for the six years of operation after the 2010 lengthening shows that for nearly five years there was no "rebound" - ticketing at Mission/Mohave stayed down until late Summer 2015, when it was raised by about 50%, probably as part of an citywide attempt to compensate for the drop in ticketing at the locations where the yellows had to be lengthened on Aug. 1. (For more info about rebound, see FAQ # 6.)
A 2016 engineering study revealed that when CalTrans lengthened the Mission/Mohave yellow and straight-thru ticketing went down, the City turned on right turn ticketing. See the last page (page 59 of the pdf) of the 2016 DKS study discussed in Set # 10, below.
On Nov. 29, 2012 CalTrans lengthened the yellow at Mission/Warm Springs from 4.3 seconds up to 5.0, and ticketing stayed down until a jump in Fall 2013 and another in Fall 2016.
SaferStreetsLA Report on Effect of Longer Yellows in Fremont
The Trend - Ticketing and Angle Crashes Both Up!
Citywide ticketing in Fremont - which should have dropped after years of enforcement - remains about the same.
At the two cameras on Mission, ticketing dropped 63% between 2010 and 2013, but then rose 29% between 2013 and 2014.
And in 2016, ticketing at Mission/Mohave was 83% greater than it was in 2014; Mission/Warm Springs was 96% greater.
An independent engineering study commissioned by the City in 2016 reported that angle crashes were up 43% at Mission/Mohave and up 55% at Mission/Warm Springs. (See page 10 of the pdf linked in Set # 10, below.)
That same engineering study revealed that City staff expressed no interest in countermeasures (at page 13 of the pdf):
"According to City of Fremont Staff, other safety features to improve safety and discourage red light violations were not considered prior to the installations of the ARLE systems [red light cameras] at either study intersection. To date, the City is satisfied with the operational benefits of the current ARLE system and have not explored other possible countermeasures."
Fremont Docs Set # 10
Some of the City's cameras (those on Mission Blvd.) are located on CalTrans right-of-ways, so are operated under an encroachment permit obtained from CalTrans. HighwayRobbery.net obtained these documents from CalTrans, via a public records request.
Permit Application 2006, Issued 2007
April 2016 DKS Study, Part of Application for Permit Renewal
Permit Issued June 2016, Expiring June 2017
Some other cities operate cameras under encroachment permits. For more information about those cities and about CalTrans' criteria for the issuance of an encroachment permit, see the CalTrans section on the Links page.
Fremont Docs Set # 11
I recommend doing a PC on Comm. Geoffrey Carter.
In late 2016, the Judicial Council removed Comm. Taylor Culver from the Alameda County Superior Court traffic bench.
Fremont Docs Set # 12
Do you live in the South end of Alameda County or the North end of Santa Clara County - State Sen. Ellen Corbett's former District?
In 2014 Sen. Corbett "termed out," and was replaced by this person
who will be running for re-election in 2018 and 2022.
Please don't vote for him.
Send him back home to his
bankruptcy law practice.
Fremont Docs Set # 13
There may be some more Fremont information posted in the next few days. Mark your calendar to remind you to come back here and look!
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