Nude Beach Poll, Red Light Camera Decision Go Surf City Attorney's Way

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Photo by Tim Melideo
Attorney Allen Baylis lets it all hang out.
It's been a good week for Huntington Beach attorney Allen Baylis.

On behalf of Orange County naturalists, Baylis has been fighting the state in court to keep a tiny, hidden stretch of San Onofre State Beach clothing optional, as it has been under a wink-wink agreement for years. When the Orange County Register discovered California Department of Parks and Recreation documents show state taxpayers spent $42,000 to fight the nude sunbathers, a poll was conducted Nov. 30 in which 95 percent of readers responded no to the following question: "Was it worth spending $42,000 on this fight against public nudity?" Only 2 percent of 477 respondents indicated it was money well spent.

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Of course, the skin set lost the war when the California Supreme Court decided against hearing the nudist group's latest petition. Better for Baylis was this, reported by Doug Irving in today's Register: Santa Ana police have quietly stopped issuing tickets to drivers caught on camera running red lights until the city can address legal concerns that it failed to give proper warning that the cameras were in use.

Baylis and fellow attorney Mark Sutherland represented the defendants at the center of Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Kenneth Schwartz's ruling that Santa Ana has been issuing tickets off red-light cameras illegally since their 2003 debut. Two weeks after Schwartz's decision was filed on Aug. 5, Baylis complained that Santa Ana cops were still writing tickets off alleged red-light violations.

Those caught running reds by the city's network of red-light cameras will get written warnings in the mail instead of automatic fines until Dec. 28, according to Irving's piece. It's the largest network in Orange County, and the city's budget anticipates $1 million from red-light revenues in the current fiscal year.

The case before Schwartz boiled down to warnings drivers must be given under state law before fines are assessed via the shots snapped by cameras. As cops kept issuing tickets after the ruling, Baylis told the Weekly, "The city is standing by their interpretation of the law even though courts a number of times have ruled there must be notification. I'd suggest the city attorney is giving bad legal advice to the city and the police department. . . . It's their way of doing business, I guess."

According to the Register piece, and despite the commissioner's finding to the contrary, Santa Ana City Attorney Joseph Fletcher still believes the city interpretation is correct. But he adds that police and city officials agreed it would take too long to fight that battle through the courts. So, the city followed the state warning guidelines for newly placed red-light cameras and Dec. 28 is the soonest fines can be assessed.



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