CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CALIFORNIA
TRAFFIC SAFETY COMMISSION
SEPTEMBER 24, 2007
CALL TO ORDER: Chair Shepherd called the meeting to order at 7:05 PM at Rancho Palos Verdes Community Room
ROLL CALL: PRESENT: Chair Shepherd, Commissioners Kramer, Parfenov, Wells, Wright, and Vice Chair Willens
ABSENT: Commissioners Bilezerian and Wells
ALSO PRESENT: Jack Rydell, Traffic Engineer, Priority Engineering, Inc.; Siamak Motahari, Senior Engineer, Public Works; Sgt. Paul Creason and Deputy Chris Knox, Sheriff's Department; Frances M. Mooney, Recording Secretary
FLAG SALUTE: Commissioner Parfenov led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Commissioner Willens moved to place Public Comments after Old Business, seconded by Commissioner Kramer.
1. Final Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program (NTCP) Status
Chair Shepherd explained that the Committee would bring a final status report to the October meeting.
Commissioner Wright asked if another approval is required before the report goes to the Council or would it just be a status report.
Chair Shepherd explained that the Commission gave her the authority to review and verify that the document is ready for City Council, and the status would be that it was presented to the City Council appropriately on October 16, 2007.
Senior Engineer Motahari verified that the NTCP is on the Council agenda for October 16, 2007.
2. Traffic Work Plan Status
Chair Shepherd reported that the Committee met two weeks ago, and that they need to prioritize the items as mandated by the State, Federal, or local guidelines in addition to items the Committee thought were desirable if funds were available.
SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT REPORT:
Sgt. Creason reported that the Department is working on the trimester report for the City Council so there is no formal report for the Commission. He reported that there were 12 collisions last month and they wrote 591 citations.
Chair Shepherd asked about an accident on the north side at Crest Road and Palos Verdes Drive East (PVDE), and Sgt. Creason will get information and provide it to her.
Commissioner Parfenov asked about an accident at Silver Spur and Hawthorne Boulevard on Saturday night, September 22, 2007.
Sgt. Creason explained that there were no fatalities so he would not have information on that accident.OLD BUSINESS:
No old businessPUBLIC COMMENTS:
This section of the agenda is for audience comments for items not on the agenda.
Chair Shepherd opened the Public Hearing.
Tom Redfield, 31273 Ganado Drive, representing the R & R Coalition, reported on PVDE and explained that the Mediterranea Homeowners’ Association (HOA) is very pleased that the Commission is moving ahead as fast as the system will allow in doing a comprehensive study of PVDE. He also expressed appreciation for the yellow reflectors that help drivers find their way during foggy and rainy weather. He reported that he observed that speeding accelerated dramatically near Marymount College since the radar was removed, and said that the sooner it is restored the better for traffic control.
Chair Shepherd commented that she was expecting to see more speeding and she noticed just the opposite.
Rod Ige, 30001 Avenida Classica at Hawthorne and Crest Road, a resident of RPV for four years, commented on the survey at Crest between Hawthorne and Crenshaw. He explained that he lives west of Hawthorne going down the hill, Avenida Classica is the first street where drivers can left, and his house is on the corner. Mr. Ige reported that in the last two years, many drivers speed down the slope and barely make that turn. He explained that a driver jumped the curb right in front of his house at 5:00 am while trying to make the turn and he completed a report with the Sheriff’s Department. He explained that this was the second time a car actually jumped the curb and headed toward his house. He explained that because the cars are coming downhill and some of them cannot make that turn, and this happens almost every day and night. Mr. Ige asked if the area surveyed includes the location near his home. He reported that the last accident happened approximately three weeks ago; that there is no barrier if drivers jump the curb, his house goes downward, and the lawn goes right down to the house. Mr. Ige asked if the City could do something to reduce speeds. He suggested that if the street could be monitored for just two days these conditions would be apparent.
Chair Shepherd explained that the Commission cannot deliberate on items not on the agenda, but they can direct Staff to investigate and schedule it on the agenda if appropriate. She asked if Staff or the Sheriff has had accident reports on that street within the last five years.
Sgt. Creason reported that he gets complaints from that location occasionally about speeders going downhill and around that corner and he believes that Mr. Ige’s wife called a few weeks ago and a Deputy responded.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that the survey did not include local residential; that radar feedback signs were installed for two months at this location.
Senior Engineer Motahari reported that when he investigated he could see many tire marks on the curb.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that radar feedback signs are one option, and Staff can increase the frequency of the radar trailer.
Glenn Cornell, 2004 Velez Drive in the Eastview part of RPV, asked the Commission to consider their problem with oversized and recreational vehicles. He explained that their tract includes Dodson Middle School, which is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. There is a lot of traffic in the morning and afternoon on residential-size streets, in addition to a few very large tour-size vehicles. Mr. Cornell asked that the Commission do whatever possible to prevent a disaster.
Chair Shepherd reported that Commission’s pending Ordinance involving RV and oversized vehicle parking is in draft form and is being reviewed by the City Attorney. She explained that the Commission is trying to be proactive because they anticipated increased parking in RPV because of the Ordinances passed by adjacent cities. Chair Shepherd suggested that Mr. Cornell watch the Commission Agenda because it may come back as an information item.
Senior Engineer Motahari reported that the Council would consider this item in December.
Mr. Cornell suggested a survey at 8:00 am or 3:00 pm when the students arrive or leave school to observe the number of school buses driving through the neighborhood. He reported that Velez is not particularly affected; those directly impacted are Montereina, Toscanini, Avenida Aprenda, Delasonde, and Redondela, which are the four main arteries for ingress and egress to Dodson Elementary School. He explained that if it were not for the school there would be very little traffic in the area.
Commissioner Wright suggested that if these vehicles are not moved for long periods, residents could call the Sheriff’s Department.
Chair Shepherd commented that the Commission has discussed the problems with neighbors that result when the Sheriff is called, and that is why they are pursuing an Ordinance.
Chair Shepherd closed the Public Hearing.NEW BUSINESS:
1. Speed Zone Survey: PALOS VERDES DRIVE EAST (PVDE)
Traffic Engineer’s Report
Traffic Engineer Rydell reported that he would spend more time on this item to explain the process of setting speed limits, so the Commissioners and audience will have as good a grasp as possible on the procedure. He reported that speed limits are set by requirements found in the California Vehicle Code (CVC) and the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Excerpts from MUTCD, pages 2B-7 through 2B-17, were provided for reference.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that, to allow radar enforcement, there are criteria set forth in MUTCD on how to conduct a speed-zone survey, and a location is considered to be a speed trap if cities do not have a valid speed-zone survey; that speeding can be enforced by other means, but not by radar.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that he sets speed limits by an analysis of how fast drivers are going, known as the prevailing or 85th percentile speed of traffic. That means that 85% of the motorists are traveling half that speed or lower, which is determined to be a reasonable measurement of what an average, rational motorist thinks is appropriate for a certain section of roadway. In addition, Staff examines the accident history related to speed and mid-block accidents, explaining that there are two types of accidents; mid-block and intersection. He explained that intersection accidents are specifically related to movement at an intersection, for example, left turns; that this type of accident is not considered in a speed survey because it is not related to the function of a roadway. Mid-block accidents where drivers lose control or run off the roadway, and rear-ending accidents not related to an intersection are included. Staff also looks at roadway characteristics that are not readily apparent to the motorist because the CVC specifies that, if a motorist is aware of a condition on a roadway, they should react to that and drive in an appropriate manner; if they are not driving in an appropriate manner, Staff will know about that because of accidents. Traffic Engineer Rydell gave an example of bicyclists or pedestrians on the roadway because there is no sidewalk, explaining that motorists can see the roadway, but if they are not familiar with RPV, they do not realize what a tremendous number of bicycles use certain roadways. Residential density is also taken into consideration as specifically spelled out in the CVC and MUTCD pertaining to high density and many driveways coming out onto the roadway. Lastly, he explained that pedestrian and bicycle safety is specifically identified in the CVC and MUTCD as factors to consider when establishing a speed limit.
Traffic Engineer Rydell reviewed in detail the background information, contained in his report as follows:
“The existing speed zones on Palos Verdes Drive East (PVDE) were established in 2004 after approval by the then Traffic Committee and adoption by the City Council. The 2004 recommendations retained the speed zones that were in effect before 2004. The existing speed zones on Palos Verdes Drive East are as follows:
“As a result of an August 28, 2007 ruling by the Appellate Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court, the 35 mph speed zone between Ganado Drive and Diamonte Lane has been ruled a speed trap and, therefore, cannot be enforced by radar per Section 40801 of the California Vehicle Code (CVC). It is Staff’s opinion that the 2004 Engineering and Traffic Survey was proper, but that it did not explain in sufficient detail the rationale for maintaining a 35 mph speed zone to allow the Court to affirm its validity. To address this issue, Staff has resurveyed the entirety of PVDE and is submitting this report and the attached Engineering and Traffic Surveys. This is intended to allow the Sheriff to resume radar enforcement upon adoption of the recommended speed zones by the City Council, in compliance with Section 40802(b) of the CVC. It is Staff’s belief that these surveys have been conducted in accordance with applicable provisions of the CVC and follows procedures outlined in the California Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).”
Traffic Engineer Rydell reiterated that he prepared that speed zone survey in 2004 and he still believes it is an appropriate speed zone; however, he stated that there is room for interpretation of speed limits. Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that he believes the Judges who ruled that it is a speed trap took it out of context, not looking at the entire situation. He explained that is one reason why Staff re-did the surveys, walked anyone reading the report through the steps by hand, to make sure to the best of their ability that they would not have that problem again.
Chair Shepherd asked if this should happen again, would a Judge normally take into consideration all the information that was available this time and would be next time, and how can the City know if the Judge would research it enough before making a decision.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that because, on the engineering survey forms that he has created, he made each one a complete stand-alone document, so that the Judges do not have to research anything other than what is in front of them, and that is what they will base their decision on. He stated that he made the current engineering surveys as defensible as he professionally can and, even though only one segment was thrown out, they re-did the one for all of PVDE so that this will not happen in the future.
Traffic Engineer Rydell reviewed slides identifying the four segments of PVDE explained in his report as follows:
“The attached Engineering and Traffic Surveys for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes present recommended speed zones for PVDE within the City. For the purposes of this report, PVDE is considered a north-south roadway. The previous Engineering and Traffic Surveys separated PVDE into four (4) separate segments, with limits indicated in the previous section of this report. This report recommends that PVDE still be separated into four (4) segments; however the limits of each segment have been modified as follows to better reflect segments with similar roadway characteristics and driving patterns.”
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that he is trying to group the segments better to take one more issue out of the equation that might cause people to find fault with the Engineering Traffic Survey. He stated that these segments generally reflect consistent motorists’ speeds in those segments, meaning that drivers traveling at different locations within each of these four segments are still going at speeds that would justify similar speed limits so they can be grouped together that way.
Traffic Engineer Rydell reviewed the four segments outlined in his report as follows:
“Segment A – Palos Verdes Drive South (PVDS) to 2,900 feet north of PVDS
“This segment is generally characterized by one travel lane in each direction with no fronting development. The northern limit (2,900 feet north of PVDS) corresponds to the southern end of the reverse horizontal curves known as the “switchbacks.” This segment is approximately 0.55 miles long.“Segment B – 2,900 feet north of PVDS to Crest Road
“This segment is generally characterized by one travel lane in each direction with no fronting development and sweeping horizontal curves. The southern limit (2,900 feet north of PVDS) corresponds to the southern end of the reverse horizontal curves known as the “switchbacks” and the northern limit is located at the traffic signal controlled Crest Road. This is the only traffic signal or stop sign location on PVDE (other than at the southern terminus at PVDS. This segment is approximately 1.36 miles long.”
Traffic Engineer Rydell commented that segments are often segregated at traffic controls such as traffic signals or all-way stops at end-points because these devices would change the characteristics as motorists go through the area. He explained that since Crest Road is the only traffic control on PVDE, it is a very significant end-point. He pointed out that the major changes from the previous zones are in Segments B and C.“Segment C – Crest Road to Miraleste Drive
“This segment is generally characterized by one travel lane in each direction with substantial fronting single-family residential development and numerous sharp, horizontal curves. In addition to driveway access, there are several intersecting public and private roadways. The southern limit is located at the traffic signal controlled Crest Road and the northern limit is located at Miraleste Drive, which is a significant intersecting roadway. This segment is approximately 1.45 miles long.
“Within this segment is an extremely short portion of roadway that has two lanes in each direction. This portion, between Crest Road and Calle Aventura, is only approximately 0.24 miles long. The MUTCD, which specifies the procedures for establishing speed zones, states that speed zones should not be less than 0.5 miles. In addition to this direction contained within the MUTCD, short speed zones are not appropriate due to their adverse effect on traffic safety by:
“Based on this information, it is inappropriate and contrary to MUTCD procedures for the portion between Crest Road and Calle Aventura to have a separate speed zone from adjacent roadway segments. Therefore, this short portion has been combined with the much longer portion to the north (approximately 1.21 miles long) in order to create an enforceable speed zone segment.“Segment D – Miraleste Drive to the Rolling Hills Estates City Limit
“This segment is generally characterized by one travel lane in each direction with substantial fronting single-family residential development and numerous sharp, horizontal curves. In addition to driveway access, there are several intersecting public and private roadways. The southern limit is located at Miraleste Drive, which is a significant intersecting roadway, and the northern limit is located at the Rolling Palos Verdes Drive East Hills Estates City Limit, south of Conestoga Drive. This segment is approximately 2.20 miles long. To the north, the City of Rolling Hills Estates has a posted speed limit of 40 mph.”
Traffic Engineer Rydell pointed out that the difference in Segment D is that there is much more equestrian and pedestrian traffic because of the schools, the library, and equestrian routes.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that there he believes the four segments fit very nicely with each other, they are defensible about why they were chosen that way, and there is no gerrymandering involved here; that he does not care where the speed limits come out, that he does it objectively based on the guidelines.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that within those four segments he took seven radar measurements because he wanted to make sure that the engineering traffic survey he performed did not raise questions; that he took his radar at certain locations to develop certain speed limits because people will definitely say that. He stated that seven radar measurements are not required.
Traffic Engineer Rydell reviewed in detail the Data Collection methods and results presented in his report as follows:
“Data was obtained regarding the prevailing speed of vehicles, traffic collisions, visibility restrictions, and roadway conditions within the project area. Radar speed measurements were conducted in September 2007. To ensure that the speed of motorists was thoroughly evaluated, measurements were taken at the following locations and for the reasons stated:
“Segment A – 2,200 feet north of PVDS
“This location represents motorists who are south of the switchbacks between the limits of PVDS and 2,900 feet north of PVDS. The northern limit of this segment corresponds with the southern limit of the switchbacks. Since this segment has a length greater than 0.5 miles, it can legitimately have its own speed zone per MUTCD procedures.”
Traffic Engineer Rydell reported an 85th percentile speed for Segment A of 43 mph.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that he took three separate counts for Segment B (B1, B2, and B3), because there was a possibility that people would say there were different profiles in that area. Profiles for each of the three sections in Segment B showed that B1 is in the straightaway within the switchbacks (38 mph), B2 counts were taken from both sides of the middle curve going up and down the hill (40 mph), B3 was representative of speeds between Ganado and Crest (38 mph).
“Segment B1 – 4,600 feet north of PVDS
Traffic Engineer Rydell reported a resulting 85th percentile speed for Segment B1 of 38 mph.
“Segment B2 – 1,100 & 1,800 feet south of Ganado Drive
Traffic Engineer Rydell reported an 85th percentile speed for Segment B2 of 40 mph.
“Segment B3 – 1,200 feet north of Ganado Drive
Traffic Engineer Rydell reported an 85th percentile speed for Segment A of 38 mph.
“Segment C1 – 1,000 feet north of Crest Road
“This location represents motorists who are within the only four-lane portion of PVDE, between Crest Road and Calle Aventura. This segment portion is extremely short, with a length of approximately 0.24 miles. Since this segment portion is too short to legitimately have its own speed zone per MUTCD procedures (0.5 mile minimum), it must be combined with another segment portion to establish a viable speed zone.
“Due to the characteristics of this portion, which has fronting residential development, intersecting roadways and driveways and is located north of the traffic signal at Crest Road, it is appropriate to combine this segment portion with the similar portion to the north, which has limits at Calle Aventura and Miraleste Drive. The 85th percentile speed on the portion of the segment that is 0.24 miles long suggests a 40 mph speed zone. However, since the 85th percentile speed on the adjacent 1.21 mile long segment portion (with which this segment portion is being combined) suggests a 35 mph speed zone, the 35 mph speed limit also should be applied to this portion of the segment, because the longer segment portion is much more representative of the speed over the entire segment and, therefore, should be the basis for establishing the speed zone over the entire 1.45 mile segment.”
Traffic Engineer Rydell reported an 85th percentile speed for Segment C1 of 43 mph.“Segment C2 – at Via Subida
“This location represents motorists who are between Calle Aventura and Miraleste Drive, which is a significant intersecting roadway. Furthermore, this portion of roadway is entirely a two-lane roadway. Since this segment has a length of approximately 1.21 miles (well above the 0.5 miles threshold) it can legitimately have its own speed zone per MUTCD procedures. However it is being combined with the portion to the south, Crest Road to Calle Aventura, in order to allow that portion of roadway to have a legal speed zone.”
Traffic Engineer Rydell reported an 85th percentile speed for Segment C2 of 38 mph.
“Segment D – 100 feet north of Via El Miro
“This location represents motorists who are between Miraleste Drive, which is a significant intersecting roadway, and the Rolling Hills Estates City Limit south of Conestoga Drive. This portion of roadway is entirely a two-lane roadway. Since this segment has a length of approximately 2.20 miles (well above the 0.5 miles threshold) it can legitimately have its own speed zone per MUTCD procedures.”
Traffic Engineer Rydell reported an 85th percentile speed for Segment A of 37 mph.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that this information is shown on the Engineering and Traffic Survey sheets (Attachments A1-A7), and copies of the radar speed surveys are shown in Attachments B1-B7 of his report dated September 24, 2007, which was provided to the Commission and audience.
Traffic Engineer Rydell reported that the first thing done when setting speed limits is to go to the closest five-mile increments of the 85th percentile speed, up or down. He read the rule contained in MUTCD on page 2B-7, paragraph 4, which states, “When a speed limit is to be posted, it should be within established at the nearest 10 km/h or 5 mph increment of the 85th percentile speed of free-flowing traffic.” He explained that this is background information and does not necessarily apply to what they are doing now, but he believes the Commission should know that; that MUTCD was revised in 2004 after he completed the previous survey. As stated in the Staff report “The previous guidelines were in effect when the 2004 speed zone surveys were performed. Because of this change in procedure, speed zones recommendations contained in this survey may differ from the previous recommendations even though the critical speeds may be the same.” He reported that many Traffic Engineers do not agree with it and the California Traffic Control Device Committee is now discussing this change, but it is the law now and Staff is following these guidelines. He explained that before this change in 2004, MUTCD required that the first five-mile increment below the 85th percentile speed be used, and now it is the nearest. As an example, if the count shows 37 mph, 35 mph would be used; if the count shows 38 mph, 40 mph would be used, and that comes into play in the recommendations in this report, and that is the first cut.
Traffic Engineer Rydell read paragraph 5 on page 2B-7, which states “The posted speed may be reduced by 10 km/h (5mph) from the nearest 10 km/h or 5 mph increment of the 85th percentile speed, where engineering study indicates the need for a reduction in speed to match existing conditions with the traffic safety needs of the community.” Traffic Engineer Rydell explained the factors that may be considered when applying that reduction such as road characteristics, sight distance, and pace speed. He explained that the pace speed is the ten-mile range where the most motorists are going, and referred to circle page 38 in the upper right corner which shows a 10 mph pace of 30 – 39 mph. He explained that it means the greatest numbers of motorists were traveling between 30 and 39 mph, and the lowest speed gives an indication of another limit for setting speed limits. Other factors to consider are roadside development and environment, which considers how residential frontage is being used; also considered are parking practices, pedestrian activity, and reported crash experience for at least a 12-month period. Finally, he reported that speed zones should be at least one-half mile in length per MUTCD as mentioned on page 2B-8, fourth bullet from the bottom; and 2B-10, paragraph 7, which reads “Speed zones of less than 0.8 km (0.5 mi) and short transition zones should be avoided.” He stated that RPV does not have short speed zones.
Traffic Engineer Rydell briefly explained why he recommended the speed limits for the four basic segments as follows. (Verbatim comments for the seven sections and detailed maps for recommended speed limits are contained on circle pages 17-31 attached to the Staff report.):
Segment A - 2.200 feet north of PVDS
The characteristics are very similar throughout, and there are no changes. The length is slightly over one-half a mile and is sufficient for a separate speed zone, the 85th percentile speed is 43, and according to the new guidelines, the initial speed zone would be 45 mph. He reported that there is substantial bicycle traffic with a narrow roadway with limited shoulder which creates significant potential for vehicle/bicycle conflict, and this is not apparent to motorists unless the bicycles are actually out there so it does not apply as a roadway characteristic that would be understood by motorists. There are also two scenic turnouts with motorists going in and out of the turnouts, which is a parking issue and has been clearly identified as a criteria to be addressed in setting speed zones. Based on those two issues, it is appropriate to apply the 5 mph reduction to the initial speed zone, which results in a 40 mph speed zone in his estimation. That compares to the existing 35 mph speed zone, but the rules have changed.
Segment B – 2,900 feet north of PVDS to Crest Road
There are three sections of Segment B; switchbacks, north of the switchbacks, and Crest to Ganado. Traffic Engineer Rydell analyzed three separate sections because he wanted to make sure that his recommendations were appropriate. Each section is slightly less than one-half mile so, per MUTCD, they are not sufficient for separate speed zones. They are similar in characteristics and the speeds are consistent at 38 mph, 40 mph, and 38 mph, which justify an initial speed zone of 40 mph. There is bicycle traffic and a narrow roadway with very limited shoulder that provides substantial conflict, and based on that, it justifies a 5 mph reduction. Bicycle and pedestrian safety is specifically spelled out in MUTCD and the CVC as criteria that must be considered in speed zones. Therefore, he is recommending a 35 mph zone, which is consistent with the current speed limit. Because that speed zone is based on the 85th percentile speed and the allowable 5 mph reduction that is supportable, he believes it is a very defensible speed limit for that segment of roadway.
Segment C – Crest Road to Miraleste Drive
The four-lane section is approximately .24 miles long (1,300 feet) and is much too short to be a speed zone; the two-lane section is almost 1.25 mile long, which could be a speed zone. Because the four-lane section is so short, it must be combined with another section to the north or south, and Traffic Engineer Rydell assigned it to the north section because they both have fronting residential development, they both are north of the traffic signal at Crest Road, and they seemed to fit together. Even if the short section were grouped with the section to the south, it would have been a 35 mph zone, and is immaterial to the result. The 85th percentile speed is 43 mph for the four-lane section, 38 mph for the two-lane section; the four-lane section is only 17% of the segment and it is not a representative speed for a 1.45-mile segment, and radar counts must be representative of the entire segment. If it is not, they need to take more, which is why he took counts to the south to make sure he was getting representative speeds. Since the two-lane section constitutes the vast majority, those speeds are representative of that segment and that should govern setting the speed limit for that segment. With the two-lane section, they start with an 85th percentile speed of 38 mph so they start with a 40 mph zone. There is bicycle traffic, narrower roadways north of Crest, and a visibility issue with driveways based on the horizontal curvature of the roadway, which makes it difficult to see the driveways, the public roadways, and the private roadways. A motorist who is not familiar with PVDE would have no knowledge of this and, based on those two criteria, a 5 mph reduction is appropriate, so he dropping the initial speed limit of 40 mph to 35 mph. Traffic Engineer Rydell commented that the current speed limit is either 30 mph or 35 mph, but because of the change in the rules, the limit must be raised.
Segment D – Miraleste Drive to the Rolling Hills Estates City Limit
The entire segment is over two miles long with an 85th percentile speed of 37 mph resulting in a 35 mph speed limit. Issues are bicycles, pedestrians, and equestrian issues; bicycles are traveling in the roadway, pedestrians, and especially equestrians, are in very close proximity to vehicles because of the lack of sidewalk facilities and a narrow roadway. There is a visibility issue and Traffic Engineer Rydell’s investigation revealed that almost 40% of the accidents involved unsafe speed. Based on those four factors, a 5 mph reduction is appropriate here resulting in a 30 mph speed limit, which is consistent with the current limit.
Traffic Engineer Rydell concluded his presentation.
Chair Shepherd thanked Traffic Engineer Rydell for being so thorough.Commission Questions of Staff
Commissioner Kramer explained that he does not understand the legality of the ticket that was issued by Deputy Knox, which was thrown out of Court, and asked if once this is implemented, how this survey prevents that from happening again. He asked when these recommendations would be implemented, would it provide better enforcement, and when could Deputy Knox go back to radar enforcement along PVDS.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded, if the Traffic Safety Commission (TSC) approves the recommendations, it would go to City Council on October 2, 2007; if the City Council approves the speed limits, they are enforceable.
Commissioner Kramer asked if Traffic Engineer Rydell knows why the Judges threw this out.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that he has had numerous conversations with the City Attorney, and without speaking with the Judges the feeling was that the previous Traffic Engineering Survey did not explain all the rationale behind what Staff did. He stated that the previous survey contained brief comments; that this survey has extensive comments. He explained that the four-lane section was problematic and that is where Staff took the radar for the 2004 survey. He stated that there was a rationale for why they set the speed limit the way they did, but he believes he did a much better job in this survey in very clearly identifying why they reached the conclusions they did and explaining specifically the references to MUTCD regulations. Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that when the Judges threw it out, they had one piece of paper in front of them, and they did not know what was north or south of the location. He explained that Staff would not go from a 35 mph zone to a higher speed for a very short segment and then reduce the speed limit. He stated that he could not answer why the ticket was thrown out.
Commissioner Kramer asked if measuring the 85th percentile is affected by existing posted speed limits.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that the traffic-engineering bible said it is not, that speed limits do not affect motorists’ behavior, and that is what they are taught.
Commissioner Kramer asked if that is independent of enforcement measures.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that the MUTCD is very clear that when radars are taken it must be done without any additional enforcement. He referred to page 2B-8 of MUTCD, the first bullet, and read, “The intent of the speed measurements is to determine the actual speed of unimpeded traffic. The speed of traffic should not be altered by concentrated law enforcement, or other means, just prior to, or while taking the speed measurements.” He read from bullet 7, “The surveyor and equipment should not affect the traffic speeds. For this reason, an unmarked car is recommended, and the radar speed meter located as inconspicuously as possible.” He explained that he has been trained to take radar, so he is very comfortable with the measurements he takes.
Commissioner Wright commented that it is an excellent report. He commented that the first Judge found in the City’s favor that the driver violated the law, and the driver appealed; he asked if the City or the Sheriff’s Department is informed when tickets go to appeal.
Traffic Engineer Rydell reported that according to the City Attorney the City was not notified the appeal, and she is investigating. He stated that the City had no representation.
Commissioner Wright clarified that there is no process by which the City is notified of appeals.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that, in talking with the City Attorney, she was extremely surprised that it happened and that is why she is investigating the process to determine if there was a breakdown since the City did not have an opportunity to defend their situation.
Commissioner Wright suggested that, because the City did not challenge the appeal, is there the risk of other people coming forward and challenging their tickets and having them thrown out, or has this happened in the past.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that he does not know if that has happened, and that is why Staff has done this survey so that it is defensible.
Commissioner Wright asked that if the City Attorney had appealed, would they have been on solid ground with more reasoning behind that speed limit and prevailed.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that the reasoning was solid, but he does not know if they would have won because it was not clearly stated in the survey.
Commissioner Wright asked if, when people go into Court, they bring speed surveys with them; if so, does a City representative have to verify that the document is legitimate.
Sgt. Creason explained that he receives three certified copies of the document; he keeps one copy, sends one copy to Juvenile Court and one to Traffic Court for the Judge to review.
Commissioner Wright asked if, when the Sheriff writes the radar tickets, they write a 22350 for posted speed or a 22348A for unsafe speed.
Sgt. Creason responded that they usually write a 22350 for the basic speed law.
Commissioner Wright asked if, in this case, with a driver going 52 mph, would a 22348A have prevailed with the Court since she was traveling at an unsafe speed versus the posted speed limit.
Sgt. Creason responded that he does not believe it would make a difference because the survey was found to be flawed.
Chair Shepherd commented that it is her understanding that the Judge used 46 mph as the baseline on the survey, and looking at the closest 5 mph would put it at 45 mph; she questioned if that was the case, the discrepancy is 1 mph and the ticket would have held up. However, she commented that the posted speed was 35 mph, which was 11 mph below the baseline.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that had the baseline been 45 mph, the posted speed of 35 mph would have been justifiable under the previous MUTCD guidelines.
Commissioner Wright asked if the City Attorney has the ruling of the Appellate Court.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that they all have it and they talked about it.
Commissioner Parfenov referred to the section between Diamonte and Miraleste and asked if the proposed speed limit would be 35 mph where the two-lane and four-lane roadways are located.
Chair Shepherd opened the Public Hearing.
Tom Redfield, 31273 Ganado Drive, representing the R & R Coalition, commented on the four-lane short section, and explained that the HOA supported Traffic Engineer Rydell’s idea to stripe that section and change it to one lane visually, similar to Miraleste Drive, and make it two lanes to make the transition easier. He suggested that Traffic Engineer Rydell might want to recommend this solution when considering the comprehensive plan for PVDE.
Chair Shepherd closed the Public Hearing.
Commissioner Willens moved to approve the Staff recommendations and establish the speed zones as set forth in Items 1 through 4 on circle page 3, seconded by Commissioner Kramer.
Commissioner Willens thanked Staff for the detail in the agenda packet, and commented that he is not stating a legal opinion, but suspects that the Judge decided how he wanted to rule and figured out a way to do it, and in this particular situation, he decided there was not sufficient rationale articulated in the traffic survey. He commented that, as many Courts do, it probably concluded first and then figured out how to get there. He explained that the reason why it is relevant is that he does not see how it would be rationally possible to do this kind of presentation on every single traffic speed survey. He explained that if every time someone got a ticket the Commission had to go through this process regarding why a certain section should be a certain speed, nothing would ever be done. He stated that the purpose of having a speed survey prepared by a certified Traffic Safety Engineer and having a certified copy in Court is so the Court can see how a speed is determined in the first place. Unfortunately, he commented that this Court decided that they did not care about that. He thanked Traffic Engineer Rydell and expressed agreement with the rationale and details used in preparing the survey.
Commissioner Parfenov referred to Segment C and stated that he is uneasy with the speed limit change from 30 mph to 35 mph, because when the speed is raised, drivers may go above that.
Chair Shepherd explained that Staff must use the 85th percentile speed as the criteria, since that is how the law is written.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained there is a situation between Ganado and the north end of the switchbacks; when he was taking radars, every motorist was in the 18-22-age range and was coming from Marymount.
Chair Shepherd emphasized that Traffic Engineer Rydell’s explanation should be on the record because Marymount will bring this issue before this Commission.
Commissioner Wright stated that his biggest concern is that there was no method for notification to the City of the appeal and the City was not in a position to defend the decision; that if the City loses cases, it invites other people to do the same thing. He believes it is incumbent upon the Commission to know, as it relates to traffic, that there is a notification method in place so the City knows when these things are occurring. He reported that he heard approximately six months before this issue was published that there was a problem with the radar tickets in the City, and he could not get further clarification than that.
Chair Shepherd suggested adding this to the list of action items so that these questions can be answered, especially how the Commission can be made aware of traffic court dates or pending decisions, with a Court date for a traffic violation. She suggested that Traffic Engineer Rydell could check with the City Manager or City Attorney regarding notification and ask why the City was not informed.
The Motion carried on the following roll call vote:
Ayes 5 Commissioners Kramer, Parfenov, Wright, Willens, Chair Shepherd
2. Speed Zone Survey: CREST ROAD, HAWTHORNE BOULEVARD, HIGHRIDGE ROAD, RIDGEGATE DRIVE AND VIA VICENTE/CALLE ENTRADERO
Traffic Engineer Rydell pointed out a typographical error in Recommendation 7, which is deleted below.
Traffic Engineer’s Report
Traffic Engineer Rydell briefly reviewed the recommendations and Staff report, explaining that this is part of Staff’s complete re-evaluation throughout the City and is the second set of ten segments. He reported that there might be one more street to re-evaluate, but not another set of ten segments. He referred to the chart on circle page 61 regarding Hawthorne Boulevard from Highridge Road to Grayslake Road and pointed out the 40 mph speed limit. He explained that this segment is only 0.4 miles long; however, in the MUTCD handout, page 2B-8, fourth bullet from the bottom, he read “Short speed zones of less than 0.8 km (0.5 mi) should be avoided, except in transition areas.” Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that this is a transition area by definition, going from 45 mph to 40 mph to 35 mph in one direction.
Commissioner Kramer commented that, especially northbound, he would definitely agree; that to go from 45 mph down to 35 mph would be inappropriate.
Traffic Engineer Rydell referred to Ridgegate Drive between Hawthorne Boulevard and Highridge Road and reported an 85th percentile speed of 29 mph. He explained that he recommended a reduction of the existing 30 mph speed limit to 25 mph, first because of the tremendous amount of pedestrian traffic going across Ridgegate Drive, which was observed while installing all-way stops, and secondly because of the intensive on-street parking. He reported that vehicles are entering and exiting the roadway on a regular basis.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that when he reviewed the Engineering Traffic Survey for PVDE, the comments section filled an entire page, and he explained in detail that the difference between PVDE and any of the ten roads presented last month and any of these ten is that none of them have a bubble location in the middle. He stated that he would not include a full page of comments on every inch of survey; that he typically includes three or four lines of summation. He referred to the PVDE comments on the re-evaluation chart on circle page 61, which he said is indicative of what he typically does. He explained that he believes it is sufficient explanation so that a Judge would not throw it out. Traffic Engineer Rydell read the comments as follows: “The 85th percentile speed suggests a speed zone of 45 mph would be appropriate. However six of the nine reported accidents involved vehicles traveling at an unsafe speed. Also, the northern portion of the segment has significant commercial development, creating the potential for significant pedestrian and conflict with vehicles. Considering these factors and CVC Section 627, it is appropriate to apply a 5 mph reduction from the 85th percentile speed in order to establish a reasonable and safe speed limit.” He explained that he would use similar descriptions in all of his normal charts because he believes it explains where the rationale came from; none of the other roadways has the bubble situation; that is why he believes that the 20 presented last month and tonight can stand on their own as well.Commission Questions of Staff
Commissioner Parfenov recused himself because he has a conflict of interest with Ridgegate.
Chair Shepherd explained that Ridgegate could be considered separately and Commissioner Parfenov can provide comments as a speaker. She asked Deputy Knox approximately how many tickets he is giving related to high speed on Hawthorne Boulevard, and what is the average speed over the limit.
Deputy Knox responded that most of the tickets issued are on Hawthorne Boulevard, and the average is 15 mph over the speed limit or 60 plus mph.
Chair Shepherd asked Traffic Engineer Rydell if there are locations on Hawthorne where speeds should be reduced, but the Commission is prevented from doing so by MUTCD.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated the only reason he would think speed limits are too high is if they have accident problems.
Chair Shepherd clarified that there is not a high level of accidents but just a high number of citations.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that Ridgegate had an accident rate of 5.19 accidents, which was almost triple the Los Angeles County average.
Commissioner Parfenov commented that during a ride-along with Deputy Knox they observed a young gentleman on Hawthorne driving in between the cars. He explained that in front of Ralphs Market the driver made a u-turn, and they caught up with him when he stopped in a parking lot. Commissioner Parfenov guessed that the driver was going about 60 mph.
Chair Shepherd asked what the Commission could do on Hawthorne Boulevard to reduce speeding.
Sgt. Creason explained that he regularly gets calls reporting speeders going up the hill to City Hall, and the Deputies spend a lot of time on Hawthorne.
Traffic Engineer Rydell referred to page 2B-10, second paragraph, and read “The establishment of a speed limit of more than 10/km (5 mph) below the 85th percentile speed should be done with great care as studies have shown that establishing a speed limit less than the 85th percentile generally results in collision rates; in addition, this may make violators of a disproportionate number of the reasonable majority of drivers.” He explained that he brings that up because MUTCD gives you “outs”, and it has been his experience that if you do something like that, even though that statement could be interpreted to permit it, he believes that it becomes very difficult to defend, unless there is a ridiculous accident rate, and there is not.
Commissioner Parfenov stated that his only concern is on circle page 61, Hawthorne Boulevard between Highridge Road and Grayslake Road, and explained that accident rates are almost to the district average. He believes it is so high there compared to other segments because of the dense development with several apartment buildings and condominium buildings on Ravenspur. He believes that people who want to turn left on Hawthorne from upper Ravenspur risk being hit by drivers on Hawthorne. He believes the issue is not only Hawthorne, but nearby streets as well.
Chair Shepherd asked if there is a high accident rate at that intersection.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that there were many accidents until Staff installed delineators.
Commissioner Parfenov stated that delineators were installed on Hawthorne at the on the lower section of Ravenspur.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that the accident rate is still better than the County average, and that is one of the justifications he uses to apply the 5 mph reduction for the accidents and he did everything that was possible. He stated that when he finalized the re-evaluations, he had PVDE in the back of his mind and he is trying to make the surveys bulletproof as much as possible.
Commissioner Kramer expressed agreement with Sgt. Creason that all of the speeds are appropriate and defensible; when driving 45 mph on Hawthorne that is fine, but when driving 60 mph it not ok, so arbitrarily lowering speed limits would not solve that problem. He believes the only answer is enforcement.
Commissioner Parfenov stated that there are some solutions to that in the draft Technology Report, such as the trailer-mounted camera, but law enforcement is good.
Commissioner Willens moved to approve the recommendations of Staff on circle page 39, Items 1 through 10, excluding Item 9, seconded by Commissioner Kramer.
The Motion carried on the following roll call vote:
Ayes 5 Commissioners, Kramer, Parfenov, Wright, Willens, Chair Shepherd
Chair Shepherd explained that the Commission would now consider Recommendation 9 on circle page 39 separately.
Chair Shepherd opened the Public Hearing.
Stanislav Parfenov, 27948 Ridgecove Court North, stated that he talked with his neighbors and members of the HOA about the speeding on Ridgegate Drive and that it is quite bad there with many people going above the speed limit and missing the stop signs. He explained that restoration of the stop signs and it did help make traffic safer, even though the stop signs are not speed control devices, but people still miss them. He stated that he supports Recommendation 9 to reduce the speed limit to 25 mph because he believes it would make the street safer for pedestrians and vehicles. He also encouraged the Sheriff’s Deputies to be there more often. Mr. Parfenov is in favor of the Staff recommendation.
Chair Shepherd closed the Public Hearing.
Commissioner Willens moved to approve Recommendation 9 on circle page 39, seconded by Commissioner Wright.
The Motion carried on the following roll call vote:
Ayes 4 Commissioners Kramer, Wright, Willens, Chair Shepherd
Senior Engineer Motahari explained that the Chair instructed that this item be placed on the matrix as a reminder, and reported that some citizens have called and stated that they want to discuss this at a Traffic Safety Commission meeting.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that this item would be on the agenda for October 2007.
Commissioner Willens reported that the school has a new Principal; that Denise Leonard who spoke at the August meeting is no longer the contact person.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that, as a result, he would have to change his recommendation since it came from Ms. Leonard who was the former Principal. He will talk with the new contact and confirm that what was recommended is satisfactory.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that in 2006 the protected permissive left-turn phasing at Hawthorne and Highridge was removed and replaced with protected left-turn phasing and this modification eliminated an accident problem. He reported that now there are times when traffic backs up as a result, and he is not opposed to extending the pocket, but it is a big-ticket item because of the raised median and is therefore a budgeting issue. He explained that there were no accidents reported at that location in 2007, so it is not a safety issue and will not be high on the priority list.
Commissioner Parfenov reported that when traffic backs up on Hawthorne some drivers will exit the left-turn lane by making an erratic right turn into a moving traffic lane, sometimes cutting off other drivers, so there is a potential for accidents from what he has observed.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that it is a natural result of the modification, but the change improved safety tremendously.
Chair Shepherd explained that this item would be included in the Work Plan relative to the PVDE Comprehensive Study, and it will continue to appear on the matrix as a reminder. In response to questions, she explained that the Work Plan would be on the October Commission agenda; the PVDE issue cannot be scheduled until the Work Plan and budget amendment are considered by the City Council.
Senior Engineer Motahari referred to a comment from the public, asking for RV parking restrictions on 9th Street.
Chair Shepherd clarified that Receive and File items should not be for discussion; that an explanatory paragraph or mini-report with updates should be included on the agenda for the Commission’s information. She stated that the Information Items would be presented from Staff to the Commission for discussion. She explained that the Action Items Matrix should actually be a rolling matrix in table form so the Commission can see what is pending and what has been eliminated. The Commission concurred that the remaining items would not be discussed.
Senior Engineer Motahari explained that Stan and Marilyn Kritzer were informed of the status by phone. He reported that Staff has convinced the Trump Organization that they have not paid the City for the traffic signal, which is a condition of development.
Chair Shepherd asked if payment is scheduled.
Senior Engineer Motahari explained that it is part of the Commission’s approval, but there is no schedule in place.
Senior Engineer Motahari reported that this traffic signal at PVDS was approved as part of the conditions of approval of that development.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Approval of Minutes of July 23, 2007 & August 27, 2007
Commissioner Willens moved to approve the Minutes of July 23 and August 27, 2007 as set forth in the packet, incorporating the revisions by Sgt. Creason on circle page 104 which were provided separately, seconded by Commissioner Kramer.
The Motion carried on the following roll call vote:
Minutes of July 23, 2007:
Ayes 4 Commissioners Kramer, Parfenov, Willens, Chair Shepherd
Minutes of August 27, 2007:
Ayes 4 Commissioners Kramer, Wright, Willens, Chair Shepherd
THE MEETING ADJOURNED AT 9:03 PM TO THE NEXT REGULARLY SCHEDULED TRAFFIC SAFETY COMMISSION MEETING, OCTOBER 22, 2007.