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City Council Adopts Sign Amendment
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When the going gets tough, the tough get … new sign ordinances that will enable the city to rake in some much-needed dough from minor traffic infractions.

Oakdale City Council members approved a code text amendment to the Oakdale Municipal Code at the last council meeting, Monday, June 7, that is modeled after the successful implementation of similar amendments in Newman and Riverbank.

The new amendment will grant police officers the authority to issue administrative citations to drivers and pedestrians who violate the provisions of the ordinance in lieu of the California Vehicle Code in regards to specific traffic violations.

So what does this mean? In short, if a driver is busted committing any of the following traffic violations: interfering with fire apparatus, driving on the sidewalk, failure to obey traffic signals, driving through/around/under a railway crossing gate, and failure to yield the right of way, then the fine levied will go straight into the city’s general fund rather than following a circuitous route through the state coffers only to trickle back to the city it had originated from.

According to Police Chief Marty West, based on the number of tickets issued in the past 12 months, potentially $58,000 would’ve been returned to the general fund through this new amendment.

Money coming in, no matter how small, seems to be looked upon favorably. All but council member Toni Hansen voted for the sign amendment.

“Unless tax revenues show a sharp increase in FY 2010-11, the money will be applied to retaining officers,” West said.

Staff recommended a fee of $150, regardless of the infraction for which the person is cited. However, persons who have been convicted of any California Vehicle Code violation within the last 36 months, which the Department of Motor Vehicles would count as a point, would be ineligible for this type of citation. In addition, anyone who has been issued an administrative citation for a qualifying violation is ineligible for a second or subsequent local traffic code citation for a period of 36 months from the date of the issuance.

While the fiscal impact seems negligible at this point, there is the potential for costs incurred within the billing process, fees paid to the hearing officer in the event of a citation appeal, and any overtime paid to officers who are required to testify at an appeal hearing.

The new ordinance amendment is scheduled to go into effect by July 21.