North Miami formerly used a special magistrate to decide red-light camera cases before a 2010 law let drivers fight their tickets in an actual courtroom. The city will return to that system, Johnson said.
The new hearing system won’t be in place Monday, he added. But drivers ticketed in early July won’t get their notices of violation until early August anyway.
The final vote in Miami will take place at the next city commission meeting on July 11.
It could become contentious. On Thursday, commissioners briefly debated whether to altogether abandon the program, which has been a source of controversy since the cameras were first approved in 2008.
Miami has 153 red-light cameras at 98 intersections. The tickets generate $3.4 million in annual revenue, budget director Daniel Alfonso said.
Suarez, who is looking to unseat Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado in November, called for an end to the program.
“The residents of the city of Miami are vehemently against the system,” Suarez said. “They view it as an involuntary tax.”
Regalado was quick to say that Suarez’s comments were motivated by politics.
“The facts are here,” Regalado said, noting that Suarez voted to approve the city’s contract with the camera company American Traffic Solutions. “You can’t deny your history.”
Despite the criticism, Suarez said he planned to renew his call to dismantle the program at the next meeting. Carollo said he wants to get rid of the cameras, too.
Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff and Vice Chairman Willy Gort voted in favor of the ordinance to use special magistrates for the ticket appeals.
The likely swing vote: Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones.
Spence-Jones approved the ordinance on first reading Thursday, but said she would need more convincing to vote in favor of it permanently.
“I just think there are a lot of unanswered questions,” she said. “I just don’t want to support something that I’m not all that comfortable with.”
In other business, the Miami Commission delayed a vote on whether to revise its sign code. The changes are controversial because they would make small electronic signs legal.
The city Planning, Zoning and Appeals board approved the measure by a 6-3 vote in April. But anti-billboard groups like Scenic Miami have fought against the changes, saying the new signs would clutter the natural landscape.
“The city of Miami would look immeasurably better if [it] would simply enforce its existing code against existing illegal and non-conforming signs,” activist Peter Ehrlich said. “Why add new confusing rules when the existing rules are not being enforced?”
El Nuevo Herald staff writer Melissa Sanchez contributed to this report.