City Council approves lowering speed limits in several locations

During the Malibu City Council meeting on Monday, June 13, the council approved the 2022 Engineering and Traffic Survey (ETS), lowering speed limits in several locations and allowing the continued use of radar speed enforcement to improve traffic safety in Malibu.

“Traffic safety is an important daily concern for residents, employees, students, and anyone using our roads in cars, on foot or on bikes,” Mayor Paul Grisanti said. “Anything we can do to make our roads safer is a win for everyone.”

Speed limits are generally established at or below the speed at which 85 percent of traffic is moving. The city’s 2022 ETS examined 46 road segments, and applied field observations and traffic counts, and reviews of road geometrics, accident data, surrounding land use, existing speed limit signs, roadway crossings, and any conditions that may contribute to special circumstances. 

Public Works Director Rob DuBoux presented the survey during the Public Safety Commission meeting on May 4 to review the Speed Survey Recommendations from the Draft 2022 Engineering and Traffic Survey to Establish Speed Limits and provide a recommendation to the City Council.

The 2022 ETS recommended lowering the speed limits at 11 separate road segments. New speed limit signs will be installed at the 11 locations on Civic Center Way, Dume Drive, Encinal Canyon Road, Heathercliff Road, Kanan Dume Road, Malibu Canyon Road, Merrit Drive, and Trancas Canyon Road. The speed limit will be lowered by 5 mph in each location. 

Malibu resident Ryan Embree commented on the speed limit on Kanan Dume Road and cautioned the council of the history of its speed adjustments. 

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“The traffic and usage doesn’t seem to change much,” Embree said. “I think that the speed limit for [Kanan] Dume drive needs to be carefully considered and cramming down speeds on other streets that are also requesting speed humps — you have to think about what you want to do — but I don’t think that the proposed speed change for [Kanan] Dume drive is going to be sustainable.” 

The existing speed limit for Kanan Dume Drive between North City Limit to Galahad Drive is 50 mph and the proposed speed limit was reduced to 45 mph. According to the report, the road has seen a high accident rate with 19 and the 85th percentile speed was downgraded due to restricted sight distance from vertical curvature. The report also says that adjacent land use consisted of single family residential with an average daily traffic (ADT) of 9,723 vehicles. 

According to the 2018 traffic safety evaluation, the road is a major canyon route between the Conejo Valley and Malibu. It is a commuter route that is very heavily used and often becomes congested during peak summer hours. Rear end collisions are a result of heavy congestion. Over the years, several fatal collisions resulted from trucks illegally using Kanan Dume as a route to Malibu and subsequently losing braking ability. 

Speed surveys are required under the California Vehicle Code and the national Uniform Vehicle Code to be able to change speed limits and use radar enforcement, and speed zones must be regularly evaluated to ensure speed limits are justified for the road conditions. The new May 2022 city speed survey was needed as Malibu’s most recent Engineering and Traffic Survey was completed in 2016. 

The city is not able to change speed limits on PCH or state highways, which are controlled by Caltrans, or on private roads or roads outside the city’s boundaries. Speed limits in the City of Malibu are enforced by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

During the meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Silverstein asked how they’re able to address speed limits on PCH. 

“With the specific AB 43 that just got passed they are very looking forward to implementing and seeing what kind of reductions we can do on PCH, and so we had some initial discussions, and I’m going to continue to be working and seeing what Caltrans can do to evaluate the speed limits on PCH,” DuBoux said. 

The California Assembly Bill 43, which took effect on January 1, 2022, is new legislation that gives cities throughout the state more control over deciding how speed limits should be set and whether they should be reduced on certain roads and highways.

Silverstein also asked how they’re able to increase the evaluation to 14 years and not seven. DuBoux said they would need to wait to see when the new law comes into effect to decide for the frequent in 

Although AB 43 took effect on January 1, cities will be unable to enforce lower speed limits under the new legislation until June 30, 2024. The bill says a local authority shall issue only warning citations for violations of exceeding the speed limit by 10 miles per hour or less for the first 30 days that a lower speed limit is in effect as authorized by this section.

The item returns to the City Council for a second reading and final adoption on June 27, after which the city will install the new speed limits signs. 

For more information, see the staff report: https://www.malibucity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/5592?fileID=30788. To see the new speed limits, watch the City Council Meeting at 4:54:52 on Youtube

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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