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Pair want to restrict red-light cameras in Iowa City

Filed similar request last month

Two residents are making another go at effectively banning red-light cameras – and other unmanned traffic-enforcement devices – in Iowa City.

On Friday, Aleksey Gurtovoy and Martha Hampel of Iowa City filed with the City Clerk’s Office what they consider an affidavit to start an initiative.

They did the same thing last month, but City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes determined how their document was worded made it a referendum, and the deadline for seeking a referendum had passed.

Gurtovoy and Hampel are going after an ordinance a divided City Council approved in February that allows traffic-enforcement cameras to be installed in Iowa City. Council members have said they are interested in red-light cameras and not speed cameras.

The City Council still needs to OK a contract with a camera vendor, but city officials have said the cameras could be up by this fall.

Gurtovoy and Hampel propose a new city ordinance that would ban the use of any traffic surveillance system or device unless it is being used by a police officer and that officer writes the ticket for a violation. That would include restricting traffic-enforcement cameras, drones and automatic license-plate recognition systems.

“Basically anything that can be used or abused,” said Gurtovoy, 35.

He said they sought legal advice from an attorney and are confident what they filed Friday is an initiative. They would consider going to court if the city disagrees, he said.

An initiative proposes a measure for the City Council’s consideration.

A referendum requires the council to reconsider an existing measure, and the city charter says a referendum petition must be filed within 60 days of the final adoption of the measure or more than two years after adoption.

In both an initiative and a referendum, if the council does not take the requested action, the proposal goes to the public for a vote.

With a valid affidavit, it would still take the signatures of at least 2,500 registered voters to require the council to act.Dilkes was out of the office Friday and others in the City Attorney’s Office had not seen the proposed initiative.

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