No stop to red light camera tickets in Balcones Heights, Leon Valley

Cities were allowed to continue cameras despite 2019 state law

SAN ANTONIO – Red light cameras are a sore subject for many drivers as two communities in our area still have them on the roads.

Leon Valley and Balcones Heights are two cities still allowed to operate the cameras despite a 2019 ban, leaving some drivers fuming.

“When I first got this in the mail, the first thing I thought in my mind is I was very angry because this is misleading,” said Jason Campbell, who received a ticket in Balcones Heights.

While the 2019 law passed by the Texas Legislature allows Leon Valley and Balcones Heights to keep their cameras because of existing contracts, they’re not allowed to use it against you if you don’t pay the ticket when it comes to renewing your vehicle or license.

Unpaid tickets can be reported to a collection agency, but they are not authorized to be reported to a credit bureau.

“They need to take them down and they need to stop sending these out,” Campbell said. “How many people have paid this instead of paying a bill?”

On the city website, Balcones Heights touts the safety benefits of the cameras. It points to a continued reduction in crashes at the intersections where they are posted.

“The City of Balcones Heights operates a red-light safety camera program to protect all people who live, work, and visit our City. It began in 2006,” said City Administrator David Harris in a statement to KSAT 12 News. “The 2019 Legislature discontinued new programs in the state and grandfathered existing programs to continue with its vendor until the end of the contract. The Balcones Heights contract with ATS/Verra Mobility runs through 2034. Balcones Heights Police Department reminds motorists to come to a complete stop at all red lights and stop signs. Rolling stops or “California stops” do not count. Thank you for making our community safe for everyone.”

A bill authored by Rep. Phillip Cortez of San Antonio sought to allow both cities to get out of their contracts, but it failed to advance during last year’s legislative session.

The Leon Valley City Council voted last April to explore getting out of its deal with the company that operates the cameras, but for now they remain in place.

Council members plan to bring up the issue again at the annual town hall meeting later this month.

At a recent meeting, they said the proceeds from fines and fees are used for improvement and safety projects, while acknowledging there’s not much they can do to compel people to pay.

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About the Author:

Samuel King anchors traffic during GMSA and reports on transportation and mobility issues across the San Antonio region. He joined the KSAT 12 news team in 2020 from KUT in Austin. Samuel was born in Queens, spent time growing up in South Alabama and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.