Iowa City Set to Ban Red Light Cameras, Drones, License Plate Readers

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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The city council in Iowa City voted to get rid of traffic cameras on Tuesday and proposed the first municipal bill in the United States to ban red light cameras, drones and license plate readers.

Council members have proposed a new ordinance that would prohibit the use of any automatic traffic surveillance unless there is a police officer or parking attendant on the scene.

The council reviewed traffic ordinance 12-4466 after receiving a local petition from, a citizen group that believes traffic surveillance technology is not installed for public safety but rather for revenue.

The council repealed the ordinance, in part because the cameras were not even installed yet. They plan to revisit the issue in two years, so traffic cameras might eventually come to Iowa City. Four council members and Police Chief Sam Hargadine said they are interested in using red light cameras in the future.

“My feeling is it doesn’t necessarily prevent us from doing what council may or may not want to do two years from now,” said council member Susan Mims.

Gov. Terry Branstad said he would support a ban on red light cameras. Branstad said public safety officials admitted the cameras only generate revenue and do not increase safety.

The Iowa City Council is two votes away from passing a ban on traffic surveillance without a human attendant. The council will have a second and third reading of the matter June 18. If the ordinance is passed, the law would go into effect June 27.

Sources: Ars Technica, The Gazette