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Texas Homeowners Association Deploys A Speed Camera
A homeowners association in Texas is moving slowly before deciding whether its new photo radar unit will issue tickets on community streets.

Crystal Falls
By Richard Diamond

A homeowners association (HOA) in Leander, Texas, decided last month to slow the push to use a speed camera to issue tickets to residents. Homes in the upscale Crystal Falls HOA sell for as much as $3 million, and the HOA board intends to make the final decision in February about whether to begin mailing citations for up to $334. In the meantime, the photo radar equipment provided by Goodwin Management, which runs the community and collects dues from residents, will gather data to be used to argue in favor of the program.

Texas law prohibits local authorities from using either speed cameras or red light cameras, but the HOA believes it has the legal right to issue automated tickets on private roads. In 2005, the Texas legislature declined to pass a bill by then-state Representative Linda Harper-Brown that would have given explicit authority to HOAs to issue speeding citations. Harper-Brown was responsible for the legislation that allowed red light cameras to operate in the state for more than a decade -- until lawmakers in 2019 overturned that law and banned all new photo enforcement installations.

According to the Crystal Falls HOA website, a notice sent to the community's 3000 members generated only a handful of responses in support of the plan. Residents who have discussed the issue online say the plan has proved to be unpopular.

"An uproar from citizens has caused them to blink for now," one owner wrote. "I despise this HOA. They are drunk on power."

Tickets issued by the device would be sent to the registered vehicle owner, but visitors who are not subject to HOA rules could only be sent warnings. Ticket recipients would have no way to contest the fine in an independent forum besides the HOA board that issued the ticket in the first place. Failure to pay the fine would likely result in a lien being placed on the vehicle owner's home.

International Security Networks, which maintains the portable speed camera unit, explained on its website that the device, "May generate additional revenue to your community." The company focuses on providing its products to HOAs, and its software allows the HOA board to perform "24 hour surveillance" recording who travels on community roads, and when.

In 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court considered the case of a motorist pulled over for speeding by an HOA security guard and ultimately sided with the HOA. Lawmakers in Nevada, by contrast, outlawed HOA speeding tickets in 2007.

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