116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — While the Marion City Council on Thursday unanimously directed staff to draft an ordinance to regulate automated traffic cameras in the city, some council members are less than enthused by the idea.
“My initial reaction is I’m not in favor of it,” Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said. “But I’m always willing to be convinced. I think we need to take it slowly and carefully.”
Marion Police Chief Mike Kitsmiller presented the council with the camera idea during a Tuesday night work session, also attended by a representative from Sensys Gatso, the company that installed the automated traffic cameras in Cedar Rapids.
“I think it’s a good program,” Kitsmiller told the council then, saying he’d recommend putting them at six problematic and heavily traveled intersections.
“I’m not looking to blanket the entire city with cameras, but there’s certain areas that could use them,” he said.
Kitsmiller listed the problem intersections as Highway 151 and its intersections with Highway 13, Linnview Avenue and Eagleview Drive; Highway 100 and its intersections with East Post Road and Menards Lane; and Seventh Avenue and 31st Street.
As it happened, one person was hospitalized Thursday before the council meeting after a car-semitrailer truck crash at Highway 100 and East Post Road.
Kitsmiller also proposed the council consider buying a mobile speed camera that could be deployed to residential and commercial areas where citizens complain about speeding.
“I think mobile units are great, but I’m completely opposed to the installation of cameras,” council member Rene Gadelha said Thursday night.
“The reasons for this coming forward — accident reduction, revenue generation and saving police time — those are all great arguments. But, to me, at a higher level, it’s more important to protect privacy and due process,” she said.
The mayor said he hopes any decision on the cameras is not motivated by any potential revenue stream.
“People are going to perceive it that way,” he said. “You can say all day long it’s not about revenue … people will still say it's about revenue.”
Council member Steve Jensen voiced concern about the level of priority for drafting such an ordinance.
“For the city attorney, there are more complex items on her plate,” he said. “This should be a lower priority.”
City Manager Lon Pluckhahn suggested he could provide council members with ordinances from other communities that already have automated traffic enforcement programs, like Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Waterloo.
“Looking at the differences between them might help without legal going through all the process,” Pluckhahn said.
Only three Marion residents submitted comments before the meeting about the issue, with all opposed.
Comments: (319) 398-8255; firstname.lastname@example.org