Another suspect speed survey

A routine item caught my eye. Pasadena, California did a speed limit review. I’ve learned that the pile of words and figures in such reviews often obscures violations of the law.

Most cities review speed limits every five years to comply with the speed trap law. (Or, in the case of Los Angeles, they don’t comply and can’t legally enforce most speed limits.) That process is built around a law prohibiting enforcement of certain speed limits that are not justified by a recent engineering and traffic survey.

But there is another law that affects all speed limits. A speed limit can’t be changed without an engineering and traffic survey. And more specifically, a speed limit that has been raised from 25 can not be changed again without a new engineering and traffic survey. (CVC ยงย 22357.)

Pasadena repealed a speed limit for Paloma Street after staff reported

Paloma Street between Hill Avenue and Sierra Madre Villa Avenue,
which is currently in PMC Section 10.48.010, was determined to be
designated as a ‘local’ street and by definition an engineering
and traffic survey is not required.

The Council had previously passed an ordinance raising the speed limit on Paloma to 30. The law does not recognize buyer’s remorse (“let’s forget we ever did that”). A change based on functional classification has no effect.

Since this is not a statutory “speed trap” it’s not illegal for police to use radar. You have to explain to the judge “the real speed limit is not the one on the signs.”

This is also a reminder of the real job of a municipal traffic engineer: to make the City Council happy.

An engineer may have determined that 30 better for traffic safety than 25, but the Council has determined that 25 is better for job safety than 30.

The opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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