VROOM! Speed Limit Increases for Sunland Boulevard Roar Back to Council

Sunland and Nettleton, facing North. Image via google maps.

It’s been nearly a year since a speed limit increase was brought before the City Council Transportation Committee, but a new proposed increase on for chunks of Sunland Ave in the San Fernando Valley will be heard tomorrow at 2 p.m. The ordinance would establish speed limits of 40 and 45 miles per hour on Sunland Boulevard from Nettleton to Tuxford Streets; between Nettleton Street and Sunland Park Drive, and between Nohles Drive and Foothill Boulevard Newhome Avenue; between Foothill Boulevard and Tuxford Street; and, between Sunland Park and Nohles Drives.

You can read the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting here. You can read the draft ordinance itself, here.

As we’ve seen in the past, the speed limit increase proposal is actually brought by people that want to see slower moving traffic.  Because of state law requiring that speed limits be set at the 85th percentile of traffic flow in order for the police to use radar to enforce traffic, many stretches of city controlled road have no speed enforcement. The LAPD back legislation that would change the law, but also support limit increases. They argue it makes their jobs easier, more cost efficient, and more safe.

The state law, known as the speed trap law ins Sacramento, is viciously defended by the California Highway Patrol and AAA.

In this case, constituents living along the street have complained to their City Councilman, former Transportation Committee Member Richard Alarcon about the lack of enforcement and he brought the motion to the committee. When he served on the transportation committee in 2007, Alarcon would vote for similar proposals after complaining bitterly about the state law, so this must be something of a bitter fight for him tomorrow.

Sunland and Nohles, facing South. Image via google maps.

We say “fight” because the Transportation Committee under the leadership of Chair Bill Rosendahl has been reluctant to pass limit increases. In addition, representatives from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Los Angeles Walks and Midnight Ridazz will be on hand to fight the increases. While all of the groups would like to see slower moving traffic, they point out that state law only forbids radar enforcement. There are other means of fighting speeding traffic available.

A second point made by advocates is that the ordinance cuts up Sunland into areas with different speed limits in a short period of drive time. Inconsistent limits can confuse drivers and are more likely to create “speed traps” than local municipalities being able to set their own speed limits based on what they believe is safe.

Most of the area being considered for limit increases is a four or five lane road. There are no bike lanes. During one stretch, there is an adjacent equestrian trail and keeping area. There is also a stretch without sidewalks. The road is, as one advocate stated, “not people friendly.”