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Palm Coast’s Plan to Install Red-Light Spy Cameras on SR100 Faces New Obstacle

| December 7, 2012

Intersections along State Road 100 would be lucrative for red-light-running cameras, but Palm Coast’s plan to install cameras there has run aground for now. (© FlaglerLive)

Palm Coast’s plan to install red-light spy-and-snap cameras along State Road 100 has run into a serious obstacle. It’s not insurmountable. But to get around it, the city—or the company running the spy-camera system—may have to spend more money than either planned.

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The reason: the traffic-light system belongs to the state Department of Transportation. But it’s maintained by Flagler County’s maintenance department. The actual infrastructure of the system is under the county’s jurisdiction. That means the electricity that runs the system is under the county’s jurisdiction. To plug into that electricity, Palm Coast and American Traffic Solutions, or ATS (the company running the spy-camera system for Palm Coast) must have the county’s permission.

The county ain’t giving it.

On Nov. 21, Robert Zaitooni, a design and engineering manager with ATS, wrote County Engineer Faith Alkhatib to “please provide us with an e-mail or a letter affirming your approval” of ATS’s use of county-maintained infrastructure at the traffic lights. “We are proposing to use the existing signal power pedestal as the power source and the existing conduits and pull boxes when it is available,” he added. “We ask that you provide us a letter on county letter head to confirm your concurrence with the use of the existing infrastructure.” He attached a draft letter that the county could then print on its own letterhead.

Alkhatib found it unnecessary. In September, the Flagler County Commission voted 4-1 to send a letter to the Palm Coast City Council, asking it to reconsider the city’s plan to install spy cameras along 100. Writing for the commission, Barbara Revels said that numerous residents had written commissioners of their objections to be subjected to the cameras. She said the cameras would alienate shoppers and tourists at a time when the county is developing a more welcoming image to business and tourism, with 100 as one of the main arteries into and out of the county.

The city council ridiculed the letter and pressed on with the plan to install the cameras. At the time, the council was unaware of the state regulation requiring the local government maintaining traffic signals to give permission to use its infrastructure. The county, apparently, was not aware of that regulation, either. Its revelation, by way of ATS, was however a welcome surprise.

On Thursday, Alkhatib sent the transportation department the county commission’s letter opposing the installation of spy cameras on SR100. “As a result,” the county engineer wrote to DOT, “as staff we cannot authorize the cameras, use of any infrastructure, or agree to anything that would otherwise further the installation of these cameras per the board’s guidance.” That is, the board of county commissioners.

Craig Coffey, the county administrator, circulated the correspondence to county commissioners and asked them if they wanted to discuss the matter at their Dec. 19 meeting. Commissioners could overrule the staff and grant ATS and Palm Coast access to the infrastructure. But that’s not likely, given the commission’s vote in September.

“There’s a possibility that they can use other hardware. They would have to build it themselves,” Sally Sherman, the county’s deputy administrator, said today of ATS. “They have not said what they intend to do. I think the next step for them is to take it to the city of Palm Coast for their response.”

In August, the Palm Coast City Council decided to expand the number of its red-light spy cameras from 10 to 52. The city would thus increase its profits from the scheme from about $23,000 a year to over $300,000, with ATS, a private, Arizona-based company, running the system, as it has since its adoption locally in 2007.

Palm Coast’s take is guaranteed: every camera location is to generate a minimum of $700 per month, whether people run enough red lights to generate the revenue or not. So the more cameras installed, the more money Palm Coast is guaranteed.

But for ATS to make money, each camera must generate more than 10 enforceable citations per month, or more than $1,580 in fines, because only then—after deducting Palm Coast’s $700, and the state’s share of $83 per citation—can ATS cash in on its own revenue, and that’s before its own expenses. For the system to work profitably for the company, it must have lucrative cameras. It can only have lucrative cameras at intersections where many people run red lights, and where traffic is high.

There are only so many intersections of the sort in Palm Coast.

That’s why the city and ATS decided to install the spy cameras along one of the most trafficked arteries in the county: State Road 100.

The swath of SR100 from east of Old Kings Road to just west of Belle Terre Parkway is all within Palm Coast’s boundaries. Even though it’s a state road, Palm Coast has the authority to install spy cameras at those interchanges.

Palm Coast City Council members have maintained the pretense that the cameras are about safety. But beyond anecdotal reports, Palm Coast has no evidence that traffic-light safety has been a serious issue in the city, nor has it conducted a study to have solid evidence one way or the other. Evidence about the effectiveness of spy cameras as means that enhance safety is also scant, with conflicting studies. Where cameras are installed, rear-end crashes tend to increase while t-boning decreases, but the overall safety factor enhancement, when found, negligible.

What is indisputable is that when there were just 10 cameras around town, Palm Coast was no longer making money. Just as indisputable is the fact that the more cameras are installed, the more money Palm Coast stands to make.

Palm Coast’s profitability plummeted since the state stepped in and regulated all such spy camera installations, while requiring a uniform fine. The state also took its cut of $83 from each such $158 fine. Previously, Palm Coast and other cities that had installed cameras pocketed the whole amount, splitting it only with the companies that ran the system. But the legality of that system, before the state regulated it, is in question.

State regulation severely reduced the profitability of spy cameras, as it did in Palm Coast. Legal challenges to the cameras have also multiplied, and the Florida Supreme Court will be ruling on their legality before the state’s imposition of uniform regulations two years ago. That decision isn’t expected to affect the system currently in place in Palm Coast, since it complies with state law. But for that system to make money, its cameras must be active on arteries such as State Road 100. Whether cameras will be installed there is now in question.

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41 Responses for “Palm Coast’s Plan to Install Red-Light Spy Cameras on SR100 Faces New Obstacle”

  1. jon says:

    If you want to give tickets out for running red lights tell the cops to do their job patroling instead of sitting side by side bsing for hours on in.

  2. George Dacosta says:

    any chance of this happening through all of palm coast?

  3. Flagler Live says:

    George, the answer is no, because this applies only to traffic lights located on roads maintained by the county, such as SR100.

  4. George Dacosta says:

    Too bad

  5. Robin says:

    Stop shopping in Palm Coast. Stop doing ANY business in Palm Coast until they REMOVE all red-light spy camera’s. WE THE PEOPLE of Palm Coast demand spy camera’s be installed in the offices of all county officials and law enforcement. WE THE PEOPLE of Palm Coast demand spy camera’s be installed in every county building including the Court House, County Code Enforcement, Police precincts, County Utilities Dept., County Work trucks, County Probation Officers Vehicles, etc.

    • hahahaha says:

      AMEN Robin, Thats what I did, I live in Flagler Beach and I have moved my office and business to St augustine. I buy all that I can in FB and the rest in St Augustine.

  6. rickg says:

    We are getting there….. One nation under surveillance….

  7. glad fly says:

    as i said before SR 100 won’t have red light cameras. thank you flagler county.

  8. Mario DiGirolamo says:

    Definitely too bad. They are a violation of our right to due process and invade our privacy. We need a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer’s of these devices.

  9. Linda says:

    Palm Coast – Big Brother at work. Micromanaging our lives through extreme code enforcement and photographing us at every opportunity.
    Meanwhile fatalities on poorly designed roads, cars speeding through residential neighborhoods past children on the way to school, an increasing sex offender population, home invasions, and drive-by shootings continue. Great work Palm Coast.

  10. PJ says:

    The Flagler County Commssion knows what the people want and one of them is not to be bullied by Palm Coast.

    Stand your ground County and tell Palm Coast to go F%$#@ off…….. Thank you PJ

  11. Quail Hollow resident says:

    While I’m an advocate of Gov’t regulation where needed, I find the increase of red light cameras from 10 to 50 something to be nothing more than a cash grab by city of Palm Coast. This Govt entity fails miserably when it comes to economic growth and job creation. This is just a revenue generator pure and simple. By picking the pockets of residents with traffic fines they can pacify the tea-publicans while proclaiming “no new taxes.” What a load of crap. In the case of this crew, I’m STRONGLY in favor of recall and I believe this will occur in the near future. The County Commissioners showed good judgement in this instance and deserve props. The economically depressed city of Palm Coast is becoming the city of BIG BROTHER who will do anything to extract revenue from residents ANY way they can. Recall them all!!!.

  12. Roger Groth says:

    I hope the county stands their ground. The cameras have found to be more dangerous from people slamming on their brakes thinking the light might change and the person behind them running into the back of them. This is all about the city will make a boat load of money from the residents. I sure wish in the next election the people of Palm Coast cleans house.

  13. Anon says:

    The penny wise and pound foolish Palm Coast Town Council will install those cameras no matter what the cost. Because it’s about safety, not money right?

    Their past performance is a very good indicator of future behavior:
    Bulldog Drive fiasco
    Realignment of Old Kings Road for nonexistent development
    Tennis center facing $120,000 loss this year and $140,000 last year
    Trying to ramrod a town hall through until they were asked to show the money to pay for it.

  14. Palm Coast Rules says:

    Flagler County does not have any Traffic Signal personnel or staff, so not to sure how they maintain the signals on SR 100. The signals on SR 100 are maintained by City of Palm Coast as well as the electric, paid for by Palm Coast. I am pretty sure the cameras will be installed on SR 100 with no issue.

    County subs out the signal maintenance for SR 100 at Colbert and SR 100 and John Anderson.

    FDOT installs signals then hands over the maintenance to a local agency. This case Palm Coast has the authority of the signals.

  15. Diego Miller says:

    Mr.Coffey, I hope you send a thank you to ATS, I think this is something you and the Commissioners should have known. I wonder how many more revelations we have to discover for you to realize you are looking at the future thru your rear view mirror? You and the County Commissioners have created an enemy, the City of Palm Coast, and just like the high paid do nothings in Washington your egos won’t allow for reasonable cooperation between the entities. We will continue to see these conflicts for many years to come.

  16. Profiler says:

    Love it, love it, love. You go Barbara Revels!! Let the City of Palm Coast officials them shove those extra spy cameras up their b#%&!!

  17. Why says:

    Why did Revels and Coffey send a letter to the city of PC asking that they not put cameras on 100 when now we find out they can’t without the permission of the county? This is embarrassing that Coffey did advise the board of this to begin with. Another fine example of the board letting Coffey lead them around by the nose, and he doesn’t properly keep the board advised. Coffey sucks up nearly a quarter of a million dollars of our tax dollars to keep him on the payroll! Time for him to GO! Come on commissioners-wake up!!!!!!!

  18. Deep South says:

    This city is getting ridiculous.

  19. Popo3984 says:

    So for all you morons against the cameras how about the 14 yr old boy who’s critically injuried at pcp by a t-bone accident because somebody ran a red light. Get over yourselves if you don’t break the law you have nothing to worry about.

    • Anon says:

      If one accepts this line of reasoning then if a red light camera was installed at the intersection the camera would have prevented the accident and the driver of the vehicle would not have run the light.

      So if red light cameras prevent accidents why aren’t they installed at all intersections in Palm Coast?

    • Nancy N. says:

      That intersection HAS red light cameras. Didn’t seem to do much to prevent the accident that you mentioned.

      “if you don’t break the law you have nothing to worry about.” – not true. Because if you understood how the cameras worked, you’d know that the cameras are surveilling all of us every time we drive through the intersections they are posted in, whether we are breaking the law or not. And some of us don’t like the idea of the government becoming Big Brother and seeing everything we do, no matter how law abiding we are!

  20. Stephen says:

    Palm Coast RLC scam needs to go away. Glad the county said no to the scam.

    ATS is only interested in cash, the “safety” is just a talking point.

    Go pull the “violation” data for Palm Coast.

    Wonder how many “violations” are right turns on red, stop lines, and split second (that LONGER ambers have stopped in many places including ATS Glassboro, NJ


    camerafraud on Facebook!

  21. Stephen says:

    By the way all the vidoes of RLV crashes you see vendors like ATS release in other towns were “captured” by RLC.


    Most RLV crashes are plus 5 second into red events (with causes like DUI, fleeing police, not paying attention. RLC WILL NOT STOP THIS!)

  22. Stephen says:

    Something else too.

    “Palm Coast’s take is guaranteed: every camera location is to generate a minimum of $700 per month, whether people run enough red lights to generate the revenue or not. So the more cameras installed, the more money Palm Coast is guaranteed.”

    The City is getting a $700 fee if the RLC don’t generate enough, with ATS likely geting per ticket if they don’t generate enough “violation”.


    See PAGE ONE of that SCAMERA BILL:

    Line 22 thru 28

    collection of penalties; providing for distribution of
    penalties collected; providing that an individual may not
    receive a commission or per-ticket fee from any revenue
    collected from violations detected through the use of a
    traffic infraction detector and a manufacturer or vendor
    may not receive a fee or remuneration based upon the
    number of citations issued providing for
    issuance, disposition, and enforcement of citations;

  23. PJ says:

    PoPo3984- It’s simple and cheap to have the sensor that detects cars STILL in the intersection HOLD the RED LIGHT red until the intersection is clear.

    If you the city tells us it is for our safety then make it safe. It’s all about the money not the safety. Those city council people have no balls to tell it like it is and tell Landon to get rid of them………..

    P.S. We all hope the young man is ok running lights at a great speed is generally intentional to make the stale green light.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I’m not against the red light cameras, they are good for traffic accidents, like popo said don’t run the red light and you wont have anything to worry about. But the biggest issue for me is that Palm Coast doesn’t really benefit from them that much …. The ATS company is the one making a killing from it.

  25. glad fly says:

    with this arrogant city commission in palm coast,the more people complain,the more they dig their heels in. . many metropolitan areas (atlanta for one because i lived there) have removed the cameras. gainesville rejected. people hate them. they don’t work. the reprisal from law suits can be staggering. they will come down here one day. they are a cash cow for palm coast. it is a racket to make money. it’s still in it’s infancy but once the law suits start adding up and voters remove the arrogance from the city commission they will come down,trust me. it takes a while to see that it doesn’t work and is a gimmick and then they come down. always have,always will. the carpetbagger red light camera companies prey on cities strapped for cash in a down economical period with promise of riches but the riches are for the them,not the cities. this will all pass one day. the things aren’t even issued from the state of florida and don’t have any repercussion regarding the suspension/revocation of a person’s driver’s license. i personally know people that were ticketed several years ago and have never paid them with no negative results. i’ve almost been rear ended three times and have been flipped off more than once for coming to a complete stop.

  26. Palm Coast Rules says:

    Silly people forget without Palm Coast there is no Flagler County, as the County calls it back in the day, Palm Coast service district, residents complained due to the fact how poorly the area was maintained by the County.

    The City is nicely maintained drawing more business to the area.

    If you obey the law what’s the issue?

    • What planet are you from says:

      What business? There are lots of empty store fronts. Look to your right, to your left, and across the street at the vacant houses. That’s not how it used to be. Look at the police blotter-that’s not how it used to be either. All the pretty flowers and landscape that is costing a fortune that line the streets in Palm Coast is for what? We don’t need all these cameras with FAST changing lights!

    • Deep South says:

      Palm Coast was maintained by ITT, and they did a helluva job.

  27. Billybob says:

    Popo3984: You don’t think that if that intersection had a red light camera that it would have stopped the driver from running the red light do you? Wait, it already does. I guess it didn’t work. Why am I supposed to feel good about a program that doesn’t work?

    This is the typical tactic of using something that makes people feel bad (a 14 year old injured in a collision) to advance an agenda. Like when they say if you don’t vote for higher taxes that they are going to have to close a fire department (implying your house is going to burn down or you won’t be able to get medical help).

    Red light cameras cannot prevent distracted and impaired drivers from barreling through intersections.
    Red light cameras do not stop accidents.

    Anyone who argues they are for safety is either ignorant of the facts or has their hand in the pot.

    And to those of you who think the majority of the people in Palm Coast are against red light cameras because we “want to break the law” I say that thinking is ludicrous. You are suggesting that most of the people in Palm Coast are criminals and are only being kept at bay by having red light cameras. I suspect most red light related crashes (both before and after the cameras were installed) involved normal everyday folks, not criminals. There are many valid reasons why most people in Palm Coast don’t want the red light cameras, and none of those reasons are because we want to run red lights.

  28. patty says:

    The RLCs are just a money-grabbing scheme in the guise of “safety”. I wonder if they will rig the cameras to meet their quota.

  29. Flagler County made a very good decision to NOT support the predatory money-grab red light scamera cash registers for Palm Coast. These devices are revenue generators, not safety devices, and they often raise the accident rates at scamera intersections.

    IF Palm Coast has a genuine safety issue at intersections with traffic lights, simply adding one second to the yellow intervals will reduce the violation rates by MORE than the red light scamera cash registers. Palm Coast will claim their yellow intervals are set to state standards which is very likely true. But the state standards allow yellows to be about one second too short because the state gets the first $83 of each $158 scamera ticket. Red light scameras are a three way business partnership for profit between the state, the city and the scamera company. They do NOT improve safety and often make it worse.

    The only real answer is for the scameras to be banned statewide. Contact your state Representatives and Senators to ask for a law to totally ban red light cameras. Contact your local officials to demand the cameras NOT be used in your area, or be removed if already installed. Vote out every state and local official who either supports the cameras or apathetically stays silent to allow the scams to continue.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  30. Henry says:

    The Palm Cost program will end up focusing on rolling right turn violations. Why?

    Last month a respected government-funded study group (National Cooperative Highway Research Program (“NCHRP”) of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences) published a study recommending longer minimum yellows, 0.4 to 0.6 sec. greater than the present minimums. For example, the study recommends 4.1 secs. of yellow in a 35 zone.

    Right now the average red light violator is about 0.4 sec. late, so the extra time will cut violations by at least half.

    The NCHRP study also recommended longer yellows for left turns. In a 35 zone the min. yellow for a left turn would be 3.7.

    An article about the study is at and the full study is at .

    I submit that the City may want to put things on hold until City staff has an opportunity to report to the City Council about the effect the reduced quantity of violations will have on the financial viability of the camera system. Unless the plan, all along, has been to shift the focus to rolling right turn violations, the quantity of which is not much affected by the length of the yellow.

  31. PJ says:

    Nice work Stephen:

    New Jersey: Longer Yellow Eliminates Red Light Running

    Straight through violations disappear at Glassboro, New Jersey intersection approach with longer yellow time.

    Red light running all but disappeared at a New Jersey intersection after the duration of the yellow light warning time was increased under threat of a lawsuit. Glassboro gave the private company American Traffic Solutions (ATS) permission to issue red light camera tickets at the intersection of William Dalton Drive and Delsea Drive on March 26. The location was so successful at issuing $85 tickets that it generated $1 million worth of notices within just seven months.

    I’ve been saying this for the last several years or since Flagler Live has run this story.

    Extend the yellow and you get a safer intersection, PERIOD !

    Before that ATS made a bundle of money off the folks that got photo tagged during the 8 month trial. AST is also know to shorten the duration to under the 2.9 seconds.

    AAA automobile club checks intersections and found many of the intersections run by ATS fell short of the 2.9 seconds. These guys are just a scam and owned by a big bank to suck us dry.

    We pay this City Manager Landon 200K plus per year and the best he can do is be a part of the scam from ATS to have us residents pay to help balance his lop-sided budget.

    Your a joke of a city manager and you should quit or be fired.

    Go get a lesson from the other city managers or County Manager that actually brings a budget to a better place with out a con to rip us off.

    What a bum……………………….

  32. One problem I have with signalization devices on State Road 100 is the timing between Amber and red. If you are driving at maximum legal speed and the light turns amber one is faced with the decision of hitting the brakes or the gas. The timing doesn’t allow for a smooth stop.

  33. Regina says:

    With the exception of going to work, I already shop outside of the county. I feel like I am being spied on and lord forbid you make a human erroe and run a light it will cost more than shopping outside of the county.

  34. Ben Blakely says:

    Proof spy speed cameras are NOT reliable and NOT to be trusted.

    An automatic speed camera citation was issued to a car owned by Daniel Doty for going 38 in a 25. But there was a problem, as his car was standing still.,0,6559038.story

  35. Mel Bronson says:

    I see the vampires of Palm Coast are ignoring Flagler County and installing red light cameras all along SR100 right up to and including the 1-95 massive intersection.

    Way to go PC vampires! Greed is good!!! People are avoiding Palm Coast in droves. Thanks for killing off business in PC!!!!!

    Jan 2013

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