The La Cañada Flintridge City Council voted on Tuesday night to keep nine segments of local streets at their existing speed limits, instead of increasing them as recommended by staff members, in the first reading of an ordinance to update citywide speed limits.
The nine segments were among stretches of 46 streets that were analyzed, according to a statement by the city’s staff. There were also 10 areas for which the council lowered the limit, generally by about 5 mph, because of various roadway conditions that are not readily apparent to drivers.
Farhad Iranitalab, the city’s traffic engineer, told the council that the state vehicle code requires that engineering and traffic surveys set speed limits on local streets and that limits be enforced with the use of radar or other speed-measuring devices.
The last time the city conducted a traffic study was in 2009 and it was adopted the same year, Iranitalab said. In December 2015, the city evaluated certain streets and determined there were no significant changes, allowing the speed limits to remain the same for a full 10 years pursuant to the state vehicle code. The 2009 traffic study expires later this year, officials said.
The state calls for surveys to be updated every five, seven or 10 years to ensure speeds reflect current conditions, officials also said.
In January, the council appropriated funds to conduct the speed-limit surveys.
According to a city statement, the three elements of a traffic survey are measurement of prevailing speed, accident history and roadway characteristics not apparent to the motorist.
A key element in evaluating speed limits is what’s known as identification of the 85th-percentile speed — the speed at or below which 85% of the traffic travels, according to the statement. The threshold represents what is historically found to be safe and reasonable speed for most drivers based on common roadway conditions.
“Drivers usually are within the 85th percentile of the speed,” Iranitalab said. “The number of people that drive at or below the 85th percentile are usually good-behavior drivers and drive based on the condition of the roadway. The other 15% is outside the mean.”
Mayor Leonard Pieroni said the current speed limit is not what’s measured in the survey.
“You measure people driving faster than this recommended number,” he said.
LCF Public Works Director Patrick DeChellis said one of the factors taken into account was accident data. If there were a street with a lot of accidents, the city could have the authority to reduce speeds 5 mph, he said.
When council members asked new Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station Capt. Todd Deeds for his opinion, he said keeping the limits as they are is the safest option.
“If most of the speed limits bumped up, people tend to start driving faster,” Deeds said. “They are very small segments and how much actual radar use is taking place is probably very limited.”
The segments that will be kept at the current speed limit are:
• Alta Canyada Road from Foothill Boulevard to Verdugo Boulevard, 30 mph
• Berkshire Place from Berkshire Avenue to Oak Grove Drive, 25/30 mph
• Gould Road from the northbound 210 Freeway to Foothill, 30 mph
• Highland Drive from Berkshire Avenue to the Foothill Freeway overpass, 35 mph
• Lynhaven Lane from Green Lane to Oakwood Avenue, 25 mph
• Ocean View Boulevard from Castle Road to Cross Street, 30 mph
• Ocean View from Cross to Foothill, 30 mph
• Palm Drive from Fairmount Avenue to Foothill, 25 mph
• Starlight Crest Drive from Angeles Crest Highway to Crown Avenue, 30/35 mph
The reduced-limit segments are:
• Alta Canyada Road from Fairmount Avenue to south of Louise Drive, 25 mph
• Cornishon Avenue from Foothill to Descanso Drive, 30 mph
• Foothill from Leata Lane to Alta Canyada, 35 mph
• Foothill from Alta Canyada to Angeles Crest), 30 mph
• Gould from Paulette Place to Houseman Street, 30 mph
• Knight Way from Oakwood Avenue to Crown, 25 mph
• La Cañada Boulevard from Fairview Drive to Foothill, 25 mph
• Los Amigos Street from Castle to Jessen Drive, 25 mph
• Oak Grove Drive from Jet Propulsion Laboratory entrance to Foothill/Berkshire Place, 35 mph
• Oakwood from Foothill to Georgian Road, 25 mph
RESOLUTION ON ENERGY ISSUE
The City Council approved a resolution to support “balanced” energy solutions such as renewable natural gas and zero-emission energy sources while maintaining local control of such solutions to lessen possible impacts on residents and businesses.
The resolution follows then-Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing of Senate Bill 100 last year. The bill mandates relying entirely on zero-emission energy sources for electricity statewide by 2045. The California Legislature and energy agencies have a goal of outlawing the use of all fossil fuels for homes, including natural gas and propane, the city’s statement said.
The city said a 2018 analysis from Navigant Consulting found that eliminating the use of natural gas would cost an average family $7,200 to switch their homes to the use of electricity alone. Families also would pay $388 more per year in energy bills, the city said.
Relying on one type of energy in a natural disaster “could mean a total loss of power,” according to the statement.
Marisol Espinosa, a public affairs official for Southern California Gas Co., said 40 other cities that had adopted the same resolution.
“While we support climate-change goals, cities should have a choice how they implement those goals rather than being mandated to replace appliances,” Espinosa said.
MARY GOYTIA STRAUSS HONORED
City officials honored Mary Goytia Strauss with a plaque for her time with the city.
She retired in February after 18 years with the city’s Public Works Department, most recently as a senior management analyst. Notice of her retirement was posted on the city’s Twitter account on March 4.
“I do want to take this time to thank the city for the opportunity to be part of the staff for this number of years,” Goytia Strauss said. “Time goes by quickly.”
Pieroni gave Goytia Strauss the plaque and wished her the best of luck.
“You look rested and happy,” Pieroni said. “Retirement is looking good on you.”