Bruce Scoggin can remember it well: On a breezy, sunny day like Friday, his father would sit on the porch swing of his Henry Clay Avenue home and chuckle at the number of drivers who would speed past the posted 25 mph limit.
The elderly man would then predict just how many cars would get snapped by the traffic camera across the street.
“May he rest in peace, but that’s what he did,” Scoggin said. “He would sit down on that swing, and he could tell you who’s gonna get it and who isn’t.”
But fewer cars could be subjected to the family tradition today under a policy change made by Mayor LaToya Cantrell that went into effect this week.
As of Jan. 1, 20 of the city's 31 traffic cameras outside of school zones, including the riverbound one in front of Scoggin’s home, were shut off, a boon for motorists who have long complained about being ticketed there on their way to work or school.
But the city's most lucrative non-school-zone cameras are still operating. Also still rolling are dozens of cameras in about 50 school zones, though they have been adjusted to issue tickets only during school-zone hours.
The changes balance the need for safety with the mayor’s desire to remove a financial burden on motorists, said Gilbert Montaño, Cantrell’s chief administrative officer.
“We took the cameras that were providing the least amount of tickets and turned those off,” he said Friday. “The 11 that remain on were ones where we still need a little bit of help from the public” in obeying traffic laws.
Because many residents have said they support using cameras as a deterrent to speeders in school zones, those cameras will remain up, but their reduced operating hours are expected to provide less revenue than the city is used to seeing, Montaño added.
All told, the city expects to bring in $4 million less this year — money that officials say has already been replaced by other funding sources. It still expects to take in $25.2 million annually from the devices.
The changes are a shift from Cantrell’s original pledge to pull down all traffic cameras and stop “nickel-and-diming” residents, but came after a team of advisers and some residents said they wouldn’t mind if some cameras kept rolling.
Though most people surveyed by the University of New Orleans last year said they disliked the cameras generally, three out of four said they were needed in school zones during school hours.
Officials have long claimed the devices are intended to increase public safety, not to make money, but the city has increasingly relied on the cameras as a revenue source.
The 20 cameras that were completely shut off this week generated less than 6 percent of the total tickets issued in the first half of last year, according to an analysis by The Advocate.
Those cameras are located near heavily traveled intersections in some cases. But some of them are near other profitable cameras the city is leaving on, meaning that drivers traveling down one side of a street could be snapped while drivers on the other side would not.
In those cases, the signs that advise drivers their speed is being recorded will remain posted in all directions.
Unaffected cameras include the ones on the northbound side of South Carrollton Avenue at Palmetto Street, near Costco, and on the riverbound side of Canal Street at Carrollton. The lakebound side camera on Henry Clay Avenue at Coliseum Street, near Scoggin's home, will also stay on.
Those cameras have churned out more than 345,000 tickets in the past decade, placing them among the five most lucrative in the city.
The other two most profitable cameras were near Christian Brothers School on Canal Street. They have issued over 236,000 tickets in the past 10 years but will be far less productive under the new restrictions.
The top five cameras account for nearly a quarter of the 2.4 million tickets the program has issued since it began.
Before the new rules went into effect, those cameras could snap pictures of drivers going faster than 26 mph during school zone times, but also if drivers exceeded regular speed limits outside school hours.
They will now issue tickets only between 7 and 9 a.m. and between 2:45 and 4:45 p.m.
Meanwhile, the non-school-zone cameras deactivated under the rules will likely be relocated to new school zones, Montaño said. Although those locations haven’t been determined, he said the city is considering placing more cameras near high schools; most cameras now are near schools with younger children.
The new school-zone camera placements could replace some or all of the revenue the city is losing by removing the cameras from non-school locations.
The city’s mobile traffic cameras remain unaffected by the new policy.
In the short run, the money the city will be losing has largely been replaced by revenue from the French Market Corp. and an affiliated board that runs the Upper Pontalba Building.
Although the cameras had become a bit of game for Scoggin's father, he himself has been dogged by their presence. It took six weeks to get a ticket scrubbed from his record after the camera near his house snapped his parked car instead of the speeding car that had set off its shutter, he said.
He was nabbed once more while driving near City Park, and another time near the Academy of the Sacred Heart on St. Charles Avenue. He said he was at fault in those instances.
"To be consistent, (Cantrell) oughta do away with all of them," Scoggin said. "But I do understand the ones in the school zones."
• St. Charles Avenue at Louisiana Avenue (both directions)
• St. Charles Avenue at Washington Avenue (eastbound)
• St. Charles Avenue at Martin Luther King Boulevard (southbound)
• St. Charles Avenue at Melpomene Street (northbound)
• N. Rampart Street at Esplanade Avenue (southbound)
• Annunciation Street at Second Street (westbound)
• Florida Boulevard at Rosemary Place (eastbound)
• Toledano Street at Galvez Street (both directions)
• Chartres Street at Gallier Street (both directions)
• Poydras Street at Magazine Street (westbound)
• S. Carrollton Avenue at Palmetto Street (southbound)
• S. Carrollton Avenue at Earhart Boulevard (northbound)
• Henry Clay Avenue at Coliseum Street (southbound)
• City Park Avenue at Canal Street (westbound)
• Wisner Boulevard at Harrison Avenue (both directions)
• Harrison Avenue at Marconi Drive (westbound)
SCHOOL ZONE CAMERAS STILL ACTIVE:
• A.P. Tureaud Avenue near St. Augustine High School
• Baronne Street near Good Shepherd School
• Berkley Drive near Algiers Tech Academy
• Bienville Street near Success Preparatory Academy
• Broadway near Audubon Charter School
• Broadway near Lusher Elementary School
• Camp Street near International School of Louisiana
• Canal Boulevard near St. Paul's Episcopal School
• Canal Street near St. John Lutheran School
• Canal Street near Success Preparatory Academy
• Canal Street near Warren Easton High School
• Carrollton Avenue near Kipp Believe School
• Dwyer Road near Miller McCoy Academy
• Esplanade Avenue near Bricolage Academy
• Esplanade Avenue near McDonogh 28 Elementary
• Fontainebleau Drive near St. Rita Catholic School
• Freret Street near Audubon Primary Academy
• Hammond Street near Resurrection of Our Lord School
• Jackson Avenue near Laurel Elementary School
• Jackson Avenue near Mahalia Jackson Elementary
• Jackson Avenue near Trinity Episcopal School
• Jefferson Avenue near Isidore Newman School
• L.B. Landry Avenue near Fischer Elementary
• Louisa Street near Mary D. Coghill Elementary
• Magazine Street near Ecole Bilingue
• Magazine Street near St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory
• Magnolia Street near Kipp Central Academy
• M.L. King Boulevard near Sylvanie Williams Preparatory
• Mirabeau Street near Mary D. Coghill Elementary
• N. Dorgenois Street near Life Christ Christian Academy
• Napoleon Avenue near St. George's Episcopal School
• Napoleon Avenue near St. Stephen School
• Nashville Avenue near Lusher Middle and High Schools
• Opelousas Avenue near Holy Name of Mary School
• Orleans Avenue near Wheatley Elementary
• Pace Boulevard near St. Julian Elementary School
• Paris Avenue near Holy Cross School
• Paris Avenue near St. Leo the Great School
• Prentiss Avenue near Holy Cross School
• Press Drive near Mary D. Coghill Elementary
• Prytania Street near McGehee School
• Robert E. Lee Boulevard near Mount Carmel High School
• S. Carrollton Avenue near Lafayette School
• S. Carrollton Avenue near Stuart Hall School
• Spanish Fort Boulevard near St. Pius X School
• St. Bernard Avenue near Nelson Elementary School
• St. Charles Avenue near Academy of the Sacred Heart
• St. Charles Avenue near Sophie B. Wright Charter School
• Trafalgar Street near Langston Hughes Elementary
OTHER TRAFFIC CAMERAS STILL ACTIVE:
• Poydras Street at St. Charles Avenue (eastbound)
• Poydras Street at Carondelet Street (westbound)
• S. Carrollton Avenue at Earhart Boulevard (westbound)
• S. Carrollton Avenue at Earhart Boulevard (southbound)
• Earhart Boulevard at S. Carrollton Avenue (eastbound)
• S. Carrollton Avenue at Banks Street (northbound)
• S. Carrollton Avenue at Palmetto Street (northbound)
• Canal Street at S. Carrollton Avenue (eastbound)
• N. Carrollton Avenue at Canal Street (southbound)
• Poydras Street at Loyola Avenue (eastbound)
• Henry Clay Avenue at Coliseum Street (lakebound)