Rancho Palos Verdes City Council






STAFF COORDINATOR: Ron Dragoo, Senior Engineer

Attachment:PVDS Speed Survey Attachment A.Powerpoint
Attachment:PVDS Speed Survey Attachment B1 Powerpoint
Attachment:PVDS Speed Survey Attachment B2 .Powerpoint
Attachment:PVDS Speed Survey Attachment B3 Powerpoint

Attachment:PVDS Speed Survey_Attachment C1.pdf
Attachment:PVDS Speed Survey_Attachment C2.pdf
Attachment:PVDS Speed Survey_Attachment C3.pdf


1. Establish speed limits of 35 MPH on Palos Verdes Drive South through the landslide and 40 MPH east of the landslide to the City Limit.

2. Adopt Resolution 2006- , A resolution of the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes establishing speed limits on Palos Verdes Drive South.


Currently Palos Verde Drive South, from Hawthorne Blvd. to East of Seacove Dr., continuing through the landslide area and from west of Schooner to the eastern city limit is posted at 45 mph, 40 mph and 45 mph respectively. This study provides the basis for setting the speed limit at 35 mph in the landslide area; 45 mph West of the landslide area and 40 mph East of the landslide area matching the City of Los Angeles speed zones.


In accordance with the California Vehicle Code (CVC), radar or laser enforceable speed limits in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes are generally established by one of two methods. If the roadway meets the definition of an arterial or collector street, the prima facie speed limit is determined by using a Traffic and Engineering Speed Survey. On the other hand, if the roadway is classified as a residential roadway, a speed limit of 25 miles per hour applies and no survey is needed. The CVC further states in order for a speed limit to be enforceable, the engineering survey must be prepared every five years.

The City’s consultant Traffic Engineer recently completed the Traffic and Engineering Speed Survey with input and direction from the Lomita Sheriff’s Department and City staff. The street segments surveyed allow for speed enforcement by the Lomita’s Sheriff’s Department which used radar or laser speed determination equipment.

To satisfy the requirements of Section 40802(b) of the California Vehicle Code (CVC), Engineering and Traffic Surveys are required by the State of California to establish intermediate speed limits and to enforce those limits using radar or other speed measuring devices. These surveys must be updated periodically (every 5, 7 or 10 years, depending upon specific criteria) to ensure the speed limits reflect current conditions as dictated by the California Vehicle Code. The surveys must be conducted in accordance with applicable provisions of the CVC, following procedures outlined in the 2003 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and the California Supplement to this manual (which replaced the California Traffic Manual in May, 2004).

Engineering and Traffic Surveys supporting the current speed limits on Palos Verdes Drive South (PVDS) were performed in July 2002 and adopted by the City Council in February 2003. Due to the ongoing and substantial changes to roadway conditions on PVDS, especially in the vicinity of the Portuguese Bend landslide, it is appropriate to re-survey this roadway to ensure that the legal speed limit is appropriate and safe. This approach is supported by the MUTCD and California Supplement, which state: “At least once every five years, States and local agencies should re-evaluate non-statutory speed limits on segments of their roadways that have undergone a significant change in roadway characteristics or surrounding land use since the last review.”


The Engineering and Traffic Survey for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes presented to the Traffic Safety Commission on June 26, 2006. Recommended speed limits for Palos Verdes Drive South within the City. For the purposes of this report, PVDS is considered an east-west roadway. Previous Engineering and Traffic Surveys separated PVDS into five (5) separate segments, with limits indicated on Attachment A. The existing speed limits on PVDS are 45 mph, except for the segment between a point 1,500 feet east of Seacove Drive and a point 2,400 feet west of Schooner Drive, which has a 40 mph speed limit. The 40 mph zone generally corresponds to the Portuguese Bend landslide area. This report recommends that PVDS be separated into three (3) segments as shown on Attachment A. The reduction in segments is intended to consolidate speed zones into roadway portions that have distinctly different characteristics, as discussed below.

West Segment – Palos Verdes Drive West to 1,500 ft east of Seacove Drive
This segment is generally divided by a raised median and has two travel lanes in each direction. It is approximately 1.8 miles long.

Center Segment – 1,500 ft east of Seacove Drive to 1,300 ft west of Schooner Drive
This segment is generally undivided and has one travel lane in each direction. It approximately corresponds to the Portuguese Bend landslide area, but extends the existing “landslide area” segment easterly to enhance awareness of the change in roadway conditions. This segment is approximately 1.4 miles long.

East Segment – 1,300 ft west of Schooner Drive to the East City Limit
This segment is generally divided by a raised median and has one travel lane in each direction. It is approximately 1.8 miles long.

To the east of PVDS, 25th Street within the City of Los Angeles has a posted speed limit of 40 mph. To the west of PVDS, Palos Verdes Drive West within the City of Rancho Palos Verdes has a posted speed limit of 45 mph.

Section 627 of the CVC requires that Engineering and Traffic Surveys be conducted based on the methodology mandated by the California Department of Transportation, which includes:

1. Measurement of prevailing speed.
2. Accident history.
3. Roadway characteristics not readily apparent to the motorist.
4. Residential density
5. Pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

The Legislature, in adopting Section 22358.5 of the CVC, has made it clear that physical conditions such as width, curvature, grade and surface conditions, or any other condition readily apparent to a driver, in the absence of other factors, would not require special downward speed zoning. The basic rule of Section 22350 is sufficient to regulate such conditions.
Posted speed limits are primarily established to protect the general public from the unreasonable behavior of reckless, unreliable, or otherwise dangerous drivers. They provide law enforcement with the means to identify and apprehend violators of the basic speed law (Section 22350 of the CVC). This statute states that "No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property."

The basic fundamentals for establishing speed limits recognize that the majority of drivers behave in a safe and reasonable manner, and that the normally careful and competent actions of a reasonable driver should be considered legal. Speed limits established on these fundamentals conform to the consensus of those who drive the highway as to what speed is reasonable and safe, and are not dependent on the judgment of one or a few individu-als. A radar or pneumatic tube speed survey is usually used to determine the prevailing speed of reasonable drivers.

Speed limits are also established to advise of conditions, which may not be readily apparent to a reasonable driver. For this reason, accident history, unexpected roadway conditions, traffic characteristics, and land use must also be ana-lyzed before determining speed limits. Speed limit changes are usually coor-dinated with visible changes in roadway conditions or roadside developments.

It is generally accepted that speed limits cannot be successfully enforced without voluntary compliance by a majority of drivers. Consequent-ly, only the driver whose behavior is clearly out of line with the normal flow of traffic is usually considered a violator for enforcement purposes.

The attached resolution adopts speeds for Palos Verdes Drive South at 3 different segments of the roadway. West Segment - Palos Verdes Drive West to 1500 feet east of Seacove Drive, this segment is generally divided by a raised median and has two travel lanes in each direction. It is approximately 1.8 miles long. Segment two is from 1500 feet east of Seacove Drive to 1300 feet west of Schooner Drive. Segment begins 1300 feet west of Schooner Drive and extends east to the City Limit.


Data was obtained regarding the prevailing speed of vehicles, traffic colli-sions, visibility restrictions, and roadway conditions within the project area. Radar speed measurements were conducted in May 2006. This information is shown on the Engineering and Traffic Survey sheets (Attachment B), and copies of the radar speed surveys are shown in Attachment C.

The criteria and operational procedures described below were used to measure vehicle speeds with electronic radar for each of the three segments on Palos Verdes Drive South. Traffic in both directions was recorded. The specific location on each roadway segment was selected after considering the following:

1. Stop sign and traffic signal influence.
2. Visibility restrictions.
3. Uncongested traffic flow.
4. Influence from curves or other roadway conditions that would affect the normal operation of a vehicle.

The surveys were conducted in good weather conditions and consisted of a minimum of 100 samples taken during off-peak periods. A hand-held radar unit was utilized in an unmarked vehicle on the segments. Due to the heavy volume and frequency of vehicles traveling in platoons, it was determined that hand-held radar measurements would produce more accurate data on the uncongested, free-flow speed of traffic than 24-hour speed data obtained with pneumatic tubes.

The accident rate on the three segments is expressed in accidents per million vehicle miles (MVM). To calculate these rates, accident data was obtained for the period of May 1, 2004 through April 30, 2006. 24-hour volumes were obtained during May 2006 from the City’s annual count program.


The results of the speed measurements were computed and analyzed, and are summarized on the Engineering and Traffic Survey forms. Significant values obtained from the computations are as follows:

• The critical speed, or 85th percentile speed, is the speed at or below which 85 percent of the traffic is moving. This speed is the primary guide in determining what the majority of drivers believe is safe and reasonable. Speed limits set higher than the critical speed are not considered reasonable and safe.

• Speed limits set lower than the critical speed make a large number of reasonable drivers "unlawful," and do not facilitate the orderly flow of traffic. Therefore, the current guideline is to set speed limits at the nearest 5 mile-per-hour (mph) increment to the critical speed unless other factors require a lower limit. Speed limits set on this basis provide law en-forcement officials with a means of controlling reckless or unreliable drivers who do not conform to what the majority finds reasonable. This methodology, which is contained in the 2003 MUTCD California Supplement, constitutes a slight change from previous guidelines that suggested setting speed limits at the nearest 5 mph increment below the critical speed.

• The 10 mph pace is the 10 mph speed range which contains the most vehicles. It is a measure of the dispersion of speeds within the samples surveyed. The accepted practice is to keep the speed limit within the 10 mph pace after considering the critical speed and any factors requir-ing a speed lower than the critical speed.

• The accident data for each street segment was compared to accident rates that can be reasonably expected to occur on streets and highways, considering the volume of traffic accommodated. These anticipated accident rates have been developed by the State of California and are considered reasonable for use in District 7, which includes the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.


Adopting Staff’s recommendations will establish reasonable speed limits along Palos Verdes Drive South.


The recommended action will not have a negative fiscal impact. By adopting Resolution 2006- , speed limits of 35 mph and 40 mph along Palos Verdes Drive South will be enforceable.
No additional funds are required for the installation of new speed limit signs.

Submitted by,

Jim Bell
Director of Public Works


Les Evans
City Manager

Attachment: A) Speed Zones
B) Engineering and Traffic Survey Sheets
C) Radar Speed Surveys