The push to ban red light cameras in Murrieta has taken a mysterious turn after more than a dozen signs promoting the initiative have been stolen from residential yards.
“This kind of thing happens in every campaign, but now it’s (happening) on people’s property,” said Diana Serafin.
Serafin, who collected signatures as a part of a grassroots effort to place the measure on the November ballot, said that she has placed about 150 of the signs throughout the city, and that 20 of the signs have disappeared — some within an hour or so of having been displayed or replaced.
One was found tossed into some nearby bushes.
“I went to corner houses in residential neighborhoods and asked if I could put up the signs,” Serafin said.
She added that the locations — some on Whitewood Road — were chosen for their visibility on local streets and each of the homeowners had granted permission for the signs to be displayed.
“We’re supposed to be a safe city and I want to stress we’re not,” she said. “The police have to patrol and watch. I am feeling discouraged.”
Murrieta residents will decide the issue of whether or not to keep red light cameras this fall after an appeals court in August issued a stay of a previous order that would have kept the measure off the November ballot.
The initiative has been hotly debated in neighborhoods and in the courtroom.
On Aug. 10, the California Fourth District Court of Appeal announced a stay of Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia’s decision handed down on Aug. 3, that initially deemed the ballot initiative illegal.
Also of note to Serafin, is word of a possible phone survey that is being conducted to see what the public’s feeling is regarding the red light controversy.
“My suspicion is that this is coming from some company, maybe the city, because you need money to run a poll,” Serafin said.
Serafin said that the effort to ban the cameras stems from a belief that they are a costly violation of civil rights.
“You’ll never stop a drunk or someone texting from running a light. If we can make (intersections) safer, I am all for it,” she said.
Murrieta has three red light cameras — one at the intersection of Murrieta Hot Springs and Whitewood roads, one at Murrieta Hot Springs and Margarita roads, and another at Clinton Keith Road and Nutmeg Street.
Kerri S. Mabee can be reached at email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter @kerrimabee.