Shoreline council debates Traffic Cameras after reviewing crash reports

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

By Oliver Moffat

At the June 10 meeting, the Shoreline council debated Traffic Cameras after reviewing the latest Traffic Report which showed record high pedestrian, fatal and serious injury crashes. Shoreline’s rise in injury collisions is consistent with state-wide trends, but unlike neighboring cities, Shoreline has resisted adoption of traffic cameras.

A traffic jam at the Meridian Park crosswalk is shown in a photo by Mike Remarcke

Council members Betsy Robertson and Eben Pobee brought traffic cameras up for discussion again after a new state law took effect that expands where cameras can be used and changes how revenue from tickets can be spent. Before adopting traffic cameras, the city must complete a study which includes equity considerations.

Parents brought a petition with 180 signatures from neighbors asking the city to install traffic cameras in front of Meridian Park elementary and told the council about the daily horror they face crossing 175th street with children.

Urging the rest of the council to support the traffic camera study, Robertson said, “My focus is on schools… We’ve got young people, crossing streets, walking down sidewalks every day and they’re just not as safe as they should be.”

A screenshot from shows the location of traffic cameras
 in Seattle, Lake Forest Park, and Lynnwood. 

Addressing criticism that the city is seeking to use traffic cameras as a money making scheme, Pobee said, 
 “It has nothing to do with revenue. As a matter fact I don’t think we have ever thought about increasing revenue or generating revenue as a result of this. We are thinking about safety. We are thinking about people. We are thinking about community.”

Councilmember Keith Scully blasted the staff report for being one sided, 

“There is nothing at all in there other than cheerleading for why school zone enforcement cameras are good. There is another side to this and it’s profound. They are inequitable in that they harm the poor folks who get a $180 ticket far more than the rich folks who do.”

Scully argued for bring back Shoreline’s traffic unit instead of automated cameras, “So there’s an easy solution to this: it’s traffic cops.”

Graphs from the Traffic Report show the drop in traffic citations after the Shoreline police department ended the traffic unit

The Shoreline police department suspended its traffic unit because of staffing shortages.

In response to a request to bring the traffic unit back, Chief of Police Kelly Park said, ”if we expedited that now, that means we are pulling bodies that are answering 911 calls and priority calls.“ She said the goal was to have a traffic unit again by the end of the year.

Scully questioned the effectiveness of speed cameras. “I want to see the data on that. I want to see how effective they are at actually reducing speeds in these areas.”

According to the Federal Highway Administration, speed cameras slow drivers and prevent injuries and red light cameras reduce crashes and deaths at intersections according to studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The new traffic camera law adds protections for the poor and historically over-policed. Cities must conduct an equity analysis before they put up traffic cameras, public assistance recipients have their fines reduced by fifty percent, fines may not exceed $145, and revenue must be spent on traffic safety to benefit communities overburdened by dangerous roads.


Anonymous,  June 12, 2024 at 8:23 AM  

Shoreline needs to beef up their police department. I also don't think that paying the tickets for the poor and the "historically over-policed" is going to pass the court tests which surely will come. Who decides which groups are historically over-policed?

Anonymous,  June 12, 2024 at 10:33 AM  

What is wrong with using cameras to generate income? Anyone caught breaking the law with the camera is clearly "volunteering" to pay the "scofflaw tax".

Anonymous,  June 12, 2024 at 1:16 PM  

How is a ticket issued by a traffic officer more equitable than a ticket issued by camera enforcement? I'll give you a hint... Car brained Scully can roll his window down and tell the traffic officer he's a council member and get out of tickets.

Anonymous,  June 12, 2024 at 6:55 PM  

Harsher fines and enforcement of reckless speeding by the hot rod racers would make me happy. It’s nearly every night now by Richmond Beach Saltwater Park. Vroooooooommmmmmmmm!

Anonymous,  June 14, 2024 at 10:50 PM  

I live on NE 175th street and hear cars and motorcycles racing down it every night. 10 years here and not once have I ever seen someone get pulled over for a speeding ticket. I get nervous everyday seeing school age kids or just anyone in general using a crosswalk because of how reckless some drivers are.

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