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Toledo City Council revives use of Traffic cameras, April 1

By La Prensa Staff

Toledo City Council and the mayor have lost several battles in a political war with state officials over the use of traffic cameras. But the local legislative body passed an amended ordinance that may be the latest salvo after months of being forced to discontinue their use.

 

Toledo city officials believe the new ordinance brings the traffic camera program in compliance with an Ohio Supreme Court ruling last June, which effectively ended Toledo’s use of cameras at that time. The state’s high court struck down the city’s administrative hearing process, ruling that municipal courts are the only place to hear traffic-camera cases. Now such appeals will be heard by a Toledo Municipal Court judge instead of an administrative hearing officer.

“In the time that we have not been using the cameras, there has been a huge increase in very serious accidents and even fatal accidents,” said long-time city council member Rob Ludeman.

“It obviously is a public health, public safety issue and I look forward to them coming back.”

“I think it’s pretty clear that the main motivator for this ordinance to put these cameras back is money and not public safety,” said one angry citizen during a public hearing last month.

The new Toledo ordinance would bring back the camera enforcement program April 1, 2021, involving both stationary and hand-held traffic cameras. Civil fines would remain $120 per violation, but adds a payment plan of $25 every 90 days to hold off credit collection efforts.

There would be a better chance of getting caught under the new ordinance, because there are plans to add ten more stationary red-light cameras across the city, bringing the total to 31. Toledo police will determine the locations of those new cameras.

There are still court cases pending related to Toledo’s use of traffic cameras. The Ohio General Assembly passed an amended law in the summer of 2019 that restricted the use of automated traffic-enforcement cameras. Toledo city officials immediately appealed that law and continued use of the cameras until the Ohio Supreme court ruling, issuing more than 113,000 traffic tickets in that one-year span. The city dismissed over 200 pending traffic camera cases at that time.

But a Columbus driver filed a class action lawsuit earlier this year, demanding a refund to all motorists who were issued and paid the $120 traffic camera citation during that time frame. The lawsuit reads in part:

Toledo has used [its ordinance] to put its thumbs on the scales of justice and extract millions of dollars from motorists through a subversion of the judicial system, threats of increased fines and impoundment, illegitimate lawsuits, and forcing motorist[s] to ‘appeal’ to a kangaroo court ‘hearing officer,’ and, if unsuccessful, pay more than the cost of the penalty to appeal to a common pleas court.”

The outcome of that Lucas County class action lawsuit could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue already collected. The main thrust of all city appeals of state law goes back to its authority under home rule to use traffic cameras.

 

Metered parkimg

There is another big change facing Toledo motorists in early 2021, this one having to do with downtown parking. While drivers can still enjoy some free downtown parking through the holidays, all of that will be eliminated effective Jan. 4, 2021.

Currently, on-street parking in downtown Toledo is enforced Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. A three-hour midday window is at the 950 metered parking spots maintained by ParkSmart. Weekends and holidays are also free. The maximum stay is two hours.

Under the new rules, free lunchtime parking is eliminated, a consistent two-hour parking limit will be strictly enforced, and the downtown parking enforcement area expands to include the Warehouse District and Uptown areas. An extra hour of paid metered parking also has been added, meaning ParkSmart can issue parking citations Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Implementation of the Toledo City Council ordinance has been delayed twice in 2020, first to allow more time to purchase and install signs and meters and hold informational meetings. The second delay occurred when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Drivers also can expect expedited enforcement of parking tickets and a new schedule of fines.

Parking violations will remain $10 for the first four offenses, but then increase to $20 for the fifth through ninth offenses, and to $30 for the tenth or more.

Toledo city officials contend the changes will allow for greater turnover of parking spaces and provide more access in the downtown area for motorists, and thus, increase business.

 

 

 

 
Copyright © 1989 to 2021 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12/29/20 16:01:47 -0800.

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