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February 3, 2004 > Double Fines in School Zones

Double Fines in School Zones

When I met with representatives from Alameda County, Fremont, Oakland, Union City and our local courts the subject of implementation costs was discussed briefly. As Fremont has stated to you, everyone present at the initial meetings was told that some or all of the implementation costs might be recoverable. However, the primary purpose and focus of the meeting, was the process for implementation of the double fine in school zones ordinance in order to increase bicyclist and pedestrian safety for children near schools.

When I proposed the idea to the Chief, there was never really any discussion about cost recovery. The idea behind Newark's passage of the ordinance and implementation of the law was that it would be a step in increasing the safety for the children in the community with any future dollars deposited into the account to increase or make additions to existing pedestrian and bicycle safety programs such as the adult crossing guards, additional or updated signage, radar/speed signs, flashing lights or crosswalks etc... When meeting with the city engineer and public works director we focused on keeping implementation costs at a minimum for several reasons. There was never any clear understanding if implementation costs were recoverable and even if they were, there is no guarantee that any substantial amount of money would ever be deposited to the account.

Although the posting of signs complies with the law for collection of fees, the signs themselves do another function of traffic regulation in that they serve as a deterrent to motorists who commit violations in the posted areas. If the signs do their job, supported with some enforcement and education activity, then theoretically the rate of violations should drop dramatically. With this in mind, as violations decrease, so would any money being deposited to the account. The other reason, is that historically the Newark Police Department has never relied upon traffic or any other fines to pay for costs of implementing programs which are important to community safety.

From an engineering and traffic standpoint, Bill 1886 and the passage of the Newark City Ordinance was an opportunity to review our current school zones, update some signage, increase public awareness of child and pedestrian safety, deter violations and possibly collect some future money which could be used to make further enhancements to bicycle and pedestrian safety programs.

James Leal
Police Sergeant
Traffic Division and Community Services

 
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