City may get to reduce speed limits

March 04, 2011

The city of Glendale would get to test-drive the power to set speed limits on surface streets under legislation proposed by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake).

Assembly Bill 529 would address Glendale Police Department concerns about speeding and would reverse a 2004 shift in state calculations that raised many speed limits.

“You can’t legislate courteous driving habits, but we can make it safer on city streets,” Gatto said.

Under California law, authorities gather data on the average speeds on roadways, and then set limits within the 85th percentile of the average. If drivers average 40 mph, the 85th percentile is 34 miles per hour.


Prior to 2004, cities were allowed to round down from the average, in this case setting a limit of 30 mph, Glendale Police Sgt. Carl Povilaitis said. But in 2004, the law was altered to round the average to the nearest 5 or zero, which in this case would be 35 mph.

Gatto said this shift increased speed limits on 44% of Glendale’s streets, and he is looking to turn back the dial.

If approved by lawmakers and signed by the governor, the measure also would allow Glendale police to set speeds on some streets regardless of the speed studies during a five-year test. Gatto said local authorities know local traffic dangers better than any state formula.

Povilaitis said streets where speeding has long been a problem include West Glenoaks Boulevard, Cañada Boulevard and Verdugo Road.

“We want traffic to move safely and efficiently, but still be safe for pedestrians, bicyclists and other community members,” he said.


Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) is gathering steam for a possible run for Congress when term limits force him out of the Assembly in 2012.

Portantino has opened a congressional campaign account and last week held a fundraiser in Sacramento, even though it’s not clear what congressional district he will be in come 2012.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is slated to unveil a proposed legislative map in mid-August. Portantino said one district likely to be transformed is the portion of the San Gabriel Valley represented by Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas).

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