Red light cameras survive for two reasons: the public-safety presumption that they serve as a deterrent to running red lights and the city's desire to raise revenue.
And bring in revenue the red light cameras most certainly do. West Hollywood receives $135 for each citation paid—amounting to a whopping $1.3 million in last year's city budget.
That means approximately 10,000 people are pictured and ticketed each year—or 28 tickets per day at the city's eight signalized intersections. Put another way, each of the city's 24 red light cameras catches about one red light runner a day.
The revenue from the program has remained consistent over the years, meaning that the deterrent effect of the red light cameras has reached a point of diminishing returns.
When Los Angeles looked at the data, it found that a good number of the citations issued were for illegal right turns, and that the cameras actually caused rear-end accidents when drivers slammed on the brakes to avoid being ticketed.
Will West Hollywood find the same results as Los Angeles? Only if we question City Hall. $1.3 million can buy alot of lunches at Soho House, but is the revenue alone enough to justiify a program with questionable other public benefit?