Council has barking dogs, red light cameras on agenda

Joe Brown

An ordinance for enforcement against barking dogs and a ban on red light cameras have hit the Laguna Niguel City Council's radar, City Manager Tim Casey said.

Mission Viejo Animal Services is contracted out to both Laguna Niguel and Aliso Viejo. However, while it has the authority to impose citations for barking dogs in Mission Viejo and Aliso Viejo, it does not yet in Laguna Niguel.

Casey said multiple residents have inquired as to why Laguna Niguel handles issues with barking dogs differently.

He calls the current process an "older generation approach," which involved both parties seeking mediation after not being able to sort it out themselves. If they refused mediation, the city left it to the complaining party to consider civil action against the offending dog owner.

Mission Viejo's ordinance, which was adopted in 2008, gives dog owners five warnings prior to citations, which begin at $300 and go up to $550. Mission Viejo has reported the program to be successful, noticing that compliance continued after warnings and citations.

Laguna Niguel's citations would be less, starting at $100 and going up to $500.

Councilwoman Linda Lindholm said she'd like the process to be a method of last resort.

The ordinance for Laguna Niguel has not yet been adopted, but it could be on the agenda for the next City Council meeting, which is Sept. 20, Casey said.

Red light cameras

The council also recently discussed an ordinance that would ban red light cameras in the city and voted 3 to 1 in favor of the ban. Councilman Joe Brown dissented, asking for additional research.

The city has never installed the system, but it has been evaluated from time to time, Casey said.

"We've never really felt compelled to recommend consideration or installation," Casey said in a phone interview. "(The purpose of) this particular ordinance was to adopt a stronger position that we don't think these types of systems are appropriate or necessary in Laguna Niguel."

A future repeal of the prohibition would require two steps by the City Council and would give the public opportunity for input.

The staff report discussed various studies that contend that red light traffic enforcement systems can increase rear-end collisions at or near intersections, are revenue generators rather than effective safety devices, and that there is a financial incentive to issue more citations. It also mentions that courts have questioned the operation and calibration of the technology.

The ordinance will be officially adopted at the Sept. 20 meeting.

For more information, visit the city's website at http://www.cityoflagunaniguel.org.

joanna.clay@latimes.com

Twitter: @joannaclay

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