Speeding Enforcement Needed in Pacific Palisades

By Sue Pascoe

The News received a letter from one of our readers who asked, “Can you please look into why there is so little speed enforcement on Sunset? We live on Muskingum and Sunset, near where there have been several major accidents in the past few weeks.

“The way cars speed up and down Sunset on a regular basis makes the street feel more like the autobahn than a local thoroughfare. It is only a matter of time before a car loses control and hits an innocent walker.

“Every Wednesday evening, countless motorcycles speed past our residence and law enforcement has to know about it. Please look into this.”

In order for LAPD to use radar or to ticket speeders on Sunset, a speed survey has to be done every seven to 10 years.

LAPD can’t use radar guns until speed surveys are done.

The speed survey on Sunset Boulevard from Pacific Coast Highway to the Beverly Hills city limit expired in February. The Palisades Drive survey expired in 2012, the PCH survey between Chautauqua and Coastline has expired, and the Temescal Canyon Road survey expires in 2018.

Some Palisadians, including Pacific Palisades Community Council board member Richard Cohen, have argued against doing speed surveys for fear that the current speed is much faster than the speed limits, and by doing a survey, the speed limit in many cases could be raised.

LAPD Officers Basaker and O’Dea told the community council at its June 8 meeting that they had conducted a speed-trailer survey on Sunset just east of Palisades Drive in May.

In a 24-hour period, 6,848 cars traveled that stretch of road. Most were traveling at just over 33 m.p.h. The maximum speed was 54 m.p.h., and at the 85th percentile the speed was 38 m.p.h.

The officers explained that mostly likely if a speed survey were done (and should be done) the speed limit would remain at 35 m.p.h., especially since a city engineer would factor in the high number of accidents on Sunset and roadway conditions, such as the numerous curves.

“I can tell you that in years past, the lack of speed enforcement on Sunset directly resulted in an increase of vehicular speeds, and consequently, resulted in an increase in serious injury and fatal traffic collisions,” O’Dea said. “In the 1990s, Sunset was the number one street in West Bureau for fatal collisions. We increased our enforcement activity on Sunset, through overtime details, and the median speeds decreased. The result was a decrease in serious injury and fatal collisions.”

The officers were asked what they would do if they lived here.

“Talk to your councilman,” they said, noting that speed surveys need to be done on Los Angeles streets.

Councilman Mike Bonin is promoting Vision Zero, a program that is meant to end all traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2025 in the City of Los Angeles.

But according to a June 2016 Streetsblog story, 75 percent of Los Angeles streets had expired speed surveys and more than 80 percent of those are on the targeted Vision Zero roadways (six percent of L.A. streets where 65 percent of all deaths and severe injuries to take place).

The deadliest streets in Los Angeles are those in which LAPD cannot effectively enforce speed laws.

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