RED LIGHT CAMERAS
you haven't already done so, please read the
Millbrae section on the Camera Towns page
Some of Millbrae's
tickets can be ignored. If your "ticket" does
not have the San Mateo County Superior Court's name
and address on it, it is a fake ticket, what I call
a "Snitch Ticket." For more details, see the
Snitch Ticket section at the top of the Your Ticket
If you have a ticket from Millbrae be sure to contact me, and also read Defect # 8 (on the Home page) and the "San Mateo County Information," which is Docs Set # 5 on the San Mateo Documents page.
10, 2020: Council to Vote on Two-Year Extension
Contacting State, City and other
Bay Area Officials
State Senator Jerry
early 2018 Sen. Hill introduced SB
which, had it passed, would have reduced the
fine for a rolling right violation.
more information about participating in one of
Sen. Hill's events, or to get on his mailing
list to be notified of future events, phone
his office at (650) 212-3313.
Millbrae Councilmember email
The City's red light camera webpage is
*Millbrae does not have its own police department. Until Oct. 2019 the City had a contract under which it paid the City of San Mateo to process its red light camera tickets (see Set # 4, below); Since then, Millbrae has employed retired police officers to process the tickets. Millbrae contracts with the San Mateo County Sheriff for the remainder of its police services.
Millbrae Chamber of Commerce: firstname.lastname@example.org (650) 697-7324
AirportCommissionSecretary@flysfo.com (650) 821-5042
East Bay Voters:
In 2014 Sen. Corbett "termed out," and
has been replaced by this person
In March 2020 please don't vote for him
Send him back home to his bankruptcy
New 6-8-09, updated 11-10-20
Total Violations Recorded ("Total
Events"), Notices Printed ("Citations Issued")
  
This table made by highwayrobbery.net, using official documents obtained under the California Public Records Act.
[ ] indicates a footnote.
 Totals are as provided by the City, except for Jul. 2009 to Mar. 2010, which are hand totals by highwayrobbery.net, and those marked .
 These annual totals and annual projections are by highwayrobbery.net.
 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 ATS calls Total Events, or all incidents recorded by the cameras, and due to time limitations may have been posted here only for selected months or locations. If there is sufficient public interest, the remaining months will be posted. The figures in black type are what ATS calls Citations Issued, and may represent the sum of genuine citations issued (those filed with the court) plus any Nominations mailed (not filed with the court, a.k.a. Snitch Tickets).
 Data was requested on:
 The lanes are numbered from the center of the street (most often a left turn lane), out to the curb (most often a right turn lane).
 Includes enforcement of posted "no turn on red" signs.
 The figures in this row are totals for the 30 months 10-1-06 to 3-31-09, from a table provided by the City.
 The report for this month was generated less than ten days after the end of the month which left a number of Violation Events not yet fully processed ("still in workflow"). Thus it is likely that more citations will be issued, with the maximum being 23 additional citations.
 The report for this month was generated a few days before the end of the month. Further, there is a (approx.) five day lag in the approval of citations. As a result, the Citations Issued figures have not been posted to the table above.
 See Ticketing Highlights, below.
 This camera operates under an Encroachment Permit issued by the State. See Set # 3, below.
 In June 2011 a right turn arrow was installed at Nbd Rollins at Millbrae.
 The camera-by-camera figures posted above for 2010 and before are the totals for all lanes enforced by the camera. If there is sufficient public interest, the lane-by-lane figures will be requested and posted.
 In Nov. 2015 CalTrans added 0.4 sec. to the length of the yellows for the photo-enforced movements at these intersections. See Set # 8, below.
 Except for (calendar year) 2016 Millbrae has not filed the annual reports required by CVC 21455.5(i), so highwayrobbery.net estimates the number of straight thru, right, and left turn tickets. The movements (straight, right, left) designated in the row at the bottom of the table above are a generalization used to make the 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 estimates.
The official annual reports - if the City decides to resume filing them - would become available by the Fall of the following year.
 See Set # 2, below.
 ATS' 3-31-18 invoice to the City included a credit for M107 being out of service from 3-1-18 to 3-14-18.
The table above was made by highwayrobbery.net, using the following official monthly reports provided by the City:
2005 - June 2009 Reports
Reports received May 3, 2010:
Mar. 2010 - July 2010
Jan., Apr., July, Oct. 2011
July 2010 - Nov. 2012
Nov. 2012 - Apr. 2013
May. 2013 - Jan. 2014
Sep. 2010 - Jun. 2014
2013 Full Year
Oct. & Nov. 2014
Dec. 2014 & Jan. 2015
Jan. - Mar. 2015 and 2014 Full Year
Apr. & May 2015
Feb. 2011 - Aug. 2015
2010 and Oct. & Nov. 2015
Feb. & Mar. 2016
Mar. & Apr. 2016
May & June 2016
July - Sep. 2016
Oct. - Nov. 2016
Dec. 2016 - May 2017
June & July 2017
Aug. & Sep. 2017
Oct. 2017 - Apr. 2018
May & June 2018
July & Aug. 2018
Sep. - Dec. 2018
Jan. - Aug. 2019
Oct. - Dec. 2019 and 2019 Full Year
Jan. - Sep. 2020
Ticketing Highlights Over the Years -
Summer/Fall 2019: Rollins Northbound Ticketing Hits New High
A doubling in May 2014 and the jump in June 2015 were subjects of Vic Lee reports on KGO-TV on Aug. 5, 2014 and July 28, 2015, and a Stanley Roberts report on KRON-TV, on July 30, 2015.
The San Mateo Daily Journal published:
Aug. 3, 2015 Letter to Editor
Aug. 5, 2015 Letter to Editor
Aug. 11, 2015 Letter to Editor
Aug. 11, 2015 Letter to Editor
Aug. 13, 2015 Article
Aug. 19, 2015 Letter to Editor
Millbrae Press Release, Translated: The Beatings Will Continue
After Vic Lee's first story highwayrobbery.net received a press release the City issued around Aug. 18, 2014. In that press release the City said:
"While the number of citations issued were reduced in July  as we completed our due diligence into the increase, it is anticipated that these numbers will return to the levels of May and June 2014."
Next, March 2016 was the highest ever, by far - until July 2016.
Why are the Spikes Happening?
"Lee attributed the jump in tickets to increased economic activity in Millbrae, as officials have dedicated effort in recent months to improving the city’s downtown."
Millbrae Councilmember Wayne Lee, in 11-21-16 Daily Journal article.
The City's efforts to improve the downtown are to be commended, but the sudden doubling of flashes (the red numbers in the table above) seen beginning in June 2016 at the 101 offramp - and then the sudden drop of ticketing (the black numbers) beginning in April 2017 - both look like the result of human intervention ("endogenous") and probably were not, despite Councilmember Lee's claim, due to changes in the traffic volume associated with local economic activity.
Offramp Ticketing Back Up in Summer 2018
Aug. 2018 ticketing by the two cameras at the base of the 101 offramp was the highest in two years.
Summer 2019: Rollins Northbound Right Turn Ticketing Hits New High
In July 2019 the ticketing for right turns was 22% greater than the previous record, in July 2016.
What to Do?
If you have a Millbrae ticket, please contact me. And - since this camera operates under a State of California Encroachment Permit - be sure to contact your state legislators in Sacramento (see Set # 3, below).
If you wish to contact the city council - or other Bay Area authorities such as the BART board or the SFO Commission, see the contact info near the top of this page.
81% (or more) of Tickets were for Right Turns
Per the City's annual
report for 2016, 81% of the City's
tickets were for right turns.
City of Millbrae Docs Set # 2
City's Revenue is Double to Three Times the Expense
“We don’t make money off of the traffic cameras,” he said. “We just make enough money to pay back the contractors.”
Claimed by Millbrae Councilmember Wayne Lee, in 11-21-16 Daily Journal article.
The City provided this report of ticket revenue it received from the court. The figures are "gross," before any City payments to the camera company.
Highwayrobbery.net obtained the following monthly figures for 2011 to 2015 directly from the court (in thousands).
To see the latest editions - including 2019 - of the Court's official tables of how much fine money the Court has
sent to the City, go to Docs Set # 5 on the San Mateo Docs page.
Millbrae's 2015-2019 revenue figures are displayed in the rightmost column in Set # 1, above.
In chronological order -
As of late 2015 Millbrae was paying ATS $26,975 per month for the cameras, and the City was paying the City of San Mateo's police department, which operates the program on behalf of Millbrae, a fee of $5225 per month, for a total of $32,200 per month.
Then in late 2016 Millbrae agreed to increase the fee paid to San Mateo to $18,550 per month, which was offset, partially, by the scheduled decrease, to $20,975, of the rent paid to ATS. The new total was $39,525. (See Set # 4, below, for links to the contracts between Millbrae, ATS and the SMPD.)
The fees paid to ATS and the SMPD covered all of the routine work associated with the camera program, although Millbrae remained responsible for responding to public records requests and for providing legal representation when tickets were challenged in court.
In Oct. 2019 there was a change in who processes the tickets for Millbrae - see Set # 4, below.
"Don't Be Evil"
Part of the corporate motto of a large tech corporation headquartered near Millbrae.
Millbrae Docs Set # 3
Encroachment Permits - The City's Achilles' Heel?
The Millbrae Avenue/101 camera and the El Camino/Millbrae Avenue camera are located on CalTrans right-of-way, so are operated under two Encroachment Permits the City obtained from CalTrans. (No Encroachment Permit was required for the cameras at Millbrae Ave./Rollins as neither of those streets is a State highway.)
In June 2015 highwayrobbery.net sent CalTrans a letter suggesting that the accident records did not justify the issuance of the Permits.
Attachments to the letter:
City's Justification for El Camino/Millbrae Avenue Camera
City's Justification for 101 Freeway/Millbrae Avenue Camera
In Sept. 2015 CalTrans told Millbrae that the City would need to apply to renew the Permits, by Jan. 1, 2016. Later, CalTrans extended the deadline to apply, to May 1 and on May 4 the City submitted an:
Encroachment Permit Application, with Traffic Study (and CalTrans Response) (35 MB file)
On July 7, 2016 CalTrans asked the City to provide more information, and set a 45-day deadline.
(That letter is part of the large file, above.)
On Sept. 9, 2016 CalTrans again extended the deadline, to Oct. 9, and on Oct. 5 the City submitted a:
Revised Traffic Study
The revised study included this colorful graph.
From the DKS study - link above - commissioned by the City
In the text following the above graph, the Licensed Professional Engineer who wrote the study suggested that the cameras were responsible for the drop in crashes:
"The overall number of crashes per year are generally lower with the ARLE program in operation...."
The engineer made that claim even though crashes were down for 2+ years before Fall 2006 when the first of the cameras were installed. Also, he did not address why, after the late 2009 installation of the prolific cameras at El Camino/Millbrae and 101/Millbrae, crashes rose instead of declining.
Highwayrobbery.net's Oct. 30, 2016 comment letter to CalTrans
If you feel that your Millbrae ticket was unfair, or a trap, or that the rate of accidents wasn't and/or isn't high enough to justify the heavy enforcement, please consider asking your representatives in Sacramento (assemblymember and state senator) to ask CalTrans to refuse to grant the annual renewal of Millbrae's Encroachment Permits.
In Jan. 2018 CalTrans extended both of Millbrae's permits to Feb. 1, 2019.
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.
Millbrae Docs Set # 4
The Contract - Paying Way Too Much and No Escape - Until Nov. 2020
2006 Staff Reports
On March 14, 2006 the city council approved the implementation of a red light camera system, and also the police department's selection of American Traffic Solutions ("ATS") to be the supplier of the system. The staff report did not reveal why there was no competitive bidding.
On June 13, 2006 the city council held the public hearing required by CVC 21455.6. A contract was approved by unanimous vote, as Mayor Gottschalk had predicted in his June 8 State of the City address:
"On June 13, the City Council again will approve a proposal to install red light traffic cameras at Rollins Road and Millbrae Avenue, which could generate additional revenue for the City (but more importantly improve traffic safety)."
Millbrae's system began issuing tickets on Oct. 18, 2006.
Until a 2009/2010 amendment, Millbrae's contract included an illegal "cost neutrality" clause, whereby the city did not have to pay ATS the full rent if the City's fine revenues were insufficient to cover the rent. See Subsection B. of Defect # 10. (The effective date of the amendment is believed to be Feb. 4, 2010, but it could be as early as Dec. 31, 2009 or as late as Feb. 18, 2010. See the amendment.)
The 2006 contract, with an initial term of five years, includes two two-year extensions which were to occur automatically unless the City provided ATS with 120 days prior notice that it wished not to extend.
(Contract extensions should never be automatic!)
The City took no action before the Oct. 2011 end of the five year contract term, thus allowed the contract to automatically extend to Oct. 2013. In an after-the-fact June 2012 letter to ATS the City confirmed the extension and asked ATS to remove camera M105.
Invoices and check stubs received from the City in June 2013 revealed that Millbrae continued to pay $5395 per camera per month, way too much for equipment averaging five years old.
In Feb. and June 2013 highwayrobbery.net wrote to the city council, suggesting that they negotiate for a better price.
In Oct. 2013 the City again allowed the contract to automatically extend for another two years, to Oct. 2015, without obtaining a better price; invoices received in Feb. 2014 (and again in Feb. 2015) showed that after the second extension, Millbrae continued to pay $5395 for equipment having an average age of seven years (as of Oct. 2014, the midway point of the extension).
In March 2014
the City of Elk Grove, California approved a new
contract which specified the following schedule of
rents for their five cameras.
Millbrae will pay 112% too much (more than
double the Elk Grove price schedule) over the two years
of the 2013-2015 extension, $342,696 extra. To
cover that extra rent, the City will need to issue an
extra 3427 tickets (assuming that the City receives an
average of $100 for each ticket issued).
And there was no way out. Millbrae's 2013-2015 contract did not include an escape clause (Termination for Convenience) - something commonly found in other cities' contracts - so the City was locked in until Oct. 2015 and could not cancel or get a better price.
Go to FAQ # 17 for more information about other cities' contracts, and to see how much they pay.
(Before late 2019, Millbrae did not process its red light camera tickets. Nor did the sheriff. The City had a contract under which it paid the City of San Mateo and its police department a flat fee to process the tickets, appear in court, and run all other aspects of the program. In a late 2016 amendment to the contract, Millbrae agreed to increase the fee it paid to San Mateo to $18,550, more than triple the previous $5225.
In Oct. 2019 there was a change in who processes the tickets for Millbrae - see below.)
New Contract in November 2015, Expiring 2018 or 2020
At their Nov. 24, 2015 (right before Thanksgiving) meeting the city council reviewed a four page staff report/resolution package which recommended the continuation of the program. The package included a two page discussion by staff and a two page draft resolution but did not include a draft of the proposed contract. The council heard critical comments from two members of the public, and asked questions of staff including the Public Works Director who said (at 0:41:50 in the City's online video of the meeting),
"Really, I cannot say for certain if the red light traffic cameras make a difference or not."
And then the council voted 5 - 0 to accept a contract for three years plus a "potential" two more years "option." But it's not clear that in the end the council got what they voted for.
Here is what the staff report/resolution presented to the council (linked above) said about the term of the new contract:
1. In two places the staff report said, "... a three year term... with a potential two year further extension if desired by the City."
2. The resolution said, " ... the option to extend the agreement for an additional two years."
The new contract as signed on Dec. 9, 2015 says:
"TERM: This agreement shall commence upon the Effective Date and shall continue for a term of three years. This agreement will automatically extend for a consecutive two year term. However, Customer or ATS may terminate this agreement at the expiration of any term by providing written notice of its intent not to extend the agreement one hundred twenty days prior to the expiration of the then-current term."
Opinion: A councilmember - even one who loves cameras - should have been upset to find out that the contract was worded to make the extra two years automatic, after he or she voted to approve a staff report which said that the extra two years would be "potential" or an "option."
Under the new contract Millbrae will pay $5395 for each camera each month during the first twelve months of the three years, and then $4195 during the second and third years, for a total payout of $827,100. But at Elk Grove prices (see Elk Grove table, above) Millbrae would pay only $376,704 over the three years, less than half of what it has agreed to pay.
To make that extra $450,396, the City will need to issue 4504 extra tickets over the three years (assuming that the City's share from each paid ticket is $150, and that 2/3 of the tickets issued are paid).
The City is stuck with those prices - the new contract has been signed by all parties, and it still does not contain an escape clause. As a result, the city council cannot shut the cameras off without breaching the contract. Fortunately for the motoring public, CalTrans has the power to shut down two of the cameras, M106 and M107, by refusing to renew the encroachment permits for those cameras. CalTrans could make a decision about the renewal at any time, so NOW is the time to act. See Set # 3, above.
Minutes of the 11-24-15 Council Meeting
Link to Video (discussion begins at 33:40 in the first video segment)
August 2018: Did the Council Allow the Contract to Auto Renew?
The council needed to act before Aug. 9, 2018 if it wished to avoid automatic renewal for two more years.
Opinion: Extensions should never be automatic - this is not a cable TV contract! Extensions should occur only after a thorough review of safety, by the council, just before the proposed extension would begin.
There is also the issue of the price. During the probable two year extension the City will pay an extra $311,400, compared to Elk Grove prices. To make that extra money the City will need to issue 3114 extra tickets during the two years.
And then there is the issue of the contract not including an escape clause.
2019: A Change in Who Processes the Tickets
In July 2019 the City of San Mateo, which up to then had been processing Millbrae's camera tickets along with those from its own cameras, decided to shut down its camera program. San Mateo gave Millbrae 90 days to find someone else to process its tickets. Neither the sheriff nor Daly City - the only other city in the County still operating cameras - was willing to take on the job, so in October Millbrae hired retired police officers to do the processing and appear in court. The officers' physical location is believed to be at the sheriff's station next to City Hall in Millbrae, but it is expected that they will be on the City's payroll, not the sheriff's.
The transition could cause some tickets to be mailed late, so if you received a ticket in late 2019 or early 2020, check to make sure it was mailed on time. See Defect # 8, on the Home page.
Nov. 10, 2020: Council to Vote on Two-Year Extension
On the Tuesday Nov. 10 (at 7 pm) city council agenda is a staff item
asking the council to approve a two-year extension
of the City's red light camera contract with ATS/Verra.
Here is a copy of the red light camera staff report, plus a copy of the council agenda
which provides info on how to participate in the meeting via Zoom or dial in.
I sent the council an email detailing my concerns about the camera program.
If you would like to send the council an email, their addresses are:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, ESuazo@ci.millbrae.ca.us,
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, (Fung and Xue were challengers
in the council election earlier this week and I'm not sure which of the two men
won the open seat.)
This list of contracts and amendments was up-to-date as of Nov. 8, 2020.
City of Millbrae Docs Set # 5
Cameras at Risk?
In June 2012 it was reported that thieves stole components of the camera systems in Cerritos, another ATS customer. (Cerritos closed its cameras in 2016.)
City of Millbrae Docs Set # 6
In July 2014 I asked the City for the guidelines required by CVC 21455.5(c)(1) and the annual report required by CVC 21455.5(i). They provided only the guidelines, which were only one page.
In Feb. 2015 the City provided guidelines and business rules.
Millbrae Docs Set # 7
City of Millbrae Docs Set # 8
Signal Timing - Were the Yellows Too Short?
Signal timing charts for the two intersections where the signals are maintained by CalTrans:
Received Feb. 2015, from City
Internal correspondence, received from CalTrans in Jan. 2016, revealed that they lengthened the yellows.
More internal correspondence, received from CalTrans in Apr. 2016, provides more details about the lengthening of the yellows.
Signal timing charts for Millbrae/Rollins, where the signal is maintained by the City:
Received Sept. 2015, from City
Received Oct. 2015, from City
Received Dec. 2015, from City, along with note from city clerk: "No modifications [of the chart] since 2013."
City of Millbrae Docs Set #
Including a Grand Jury Report
about the Cameras
Look in Countywide Info on the San
Mateo Docs page for info about the judges, the court,
and the Grand Jury.
City of Millbrae Docs Set # 10
There may be some more Millbrae information posted in the next few weeks. Mark your calendar to remind you to come back here and look!
RED LIGHT CAMERAS