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    How does a conservation authority with stop-sign cameras have access to DMV records?
    • May 31, 2024

    Q. Hi Honk: I read an article about people getting citations for rolling through stop signs at several parks overseen by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, a local agency dedicated to protecting public open space. The stop signs are monitored by video cameras and a photo of the offending license plate is included with the citation. Because it isn’t a law enforcement agency, how can it obtain the name and the mailing address associated with the license plate?

    – Sylvia Watkins, Hawthorne

    A.  Some agencies without cops have agreements with the Department of Motor Vehicles and can access its records.

    Think tollways.

    But the authority is a different scenario.

    “We are a law-enforcement agency, our rangers are sworn California peace officers,” said Dash Stolarz, a spokesperson for the authority. “Every citation is reviewed by them.”

    An officer, in other words, views the recording before declaring that a violation occurred and a citation is issued.

    The agency has seven intersections with the cameras, a setup put in place in 2007. The citations do not go onto Department of Motor Vehicles records but, if not paid, do go to a collection agency.

    The conservation authority manages more than 75,000 acres it or the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy owns. Among its duties is helping revitalize the L.A. River and managing two areas it runs through, in the Elysian Valley and in the Sepulveda Basin. In some areas, people kayak, canoe, fish and gaze at birds.

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    Q. I am a fan of the 405 Express Lanes, but I am confused a bit with how the tolls are displayed on their electronic signs. I usually enter the northbound 405 Express Lanes where they start, near South Coast Plaza. There are usually three tolls indicated on the signs, the last being for exiting at the 605 Freeway where the Express Lanes end. However, typically shown is a toll for the “To I-405.” Since I am on the 405 Freeway, albeit in the Express Lanes, I am not clear how there is a toll for exiting onto the 405 Freeway. What am I missing?

    – Mike Wick, Lake Forest

    A. Whatever you were missing, so was Honk.

    During a recent jaunt in the Honkmobile, the wise, old sage was scratching his noggin as well after seeing the signs.

    Megan Abba, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Transportation Authority, which runs those express lanes, said the agency appreciates drivers bringing up any concerns of the 6-month-old system.

    A couple of weeks ago, a Honk reader raise the issue about another confusing entry on the electronic signs that show the costs for the various legs.

    In regard to Mike’s (and Honk’s) confusion, driving north the signs mention where drivers can slide from the express lanes onto the freeway, “including where the express lanes end at either the 605 Freeway or the 405 Freeway at the Los Angeles County line,” Abba explained in an email.

    “The sign in question shows the toll rate for drivers going to the farthest northern point of the express lanes on the 405, where they end at the L.A. County line,” she said. “This is where the two express lanes go back to traditional carpool lanes and one peels off to the 605 with the other continuing on the northbound 405.”

    So the sign lists the cost to go to each of those endpoints, as in “To I-605” and “To I-405.”

    “This is another area we will review and see if there are any adjustments needed to make the electronic signs clearer for drivers,” Abba said.

    Honk predicts how that one endpoint is labeled will change, Mike, perhaps helped by your nudge.

    To ask Honk questions, reach him at [email protected]. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

    ​ Orange County Register