Solana Beach City Council approves speed limit changes

The Solana Beach City Council, in response to a “speed survey” conducted in 2016, adjusted the speed limits for nine road segments in the city.

The unanimous action came at the council’s meeting on Wednesday, March 8.

The city hired Linscott, Law and Greenspan Engineers to conduct the citywide speed survey, the first to be carried out since 2009, said a city staff report. According to city staff, such surveys are required by state law to be conducted every five to seven years.

The consultant’s report evaluated 37 road segments. Of those, seven were not surveyed because they are automatically set due to proximity to business or residential districts, schools or playgrounds, or senior citizen facilities.

Another 21 segments were recommended for no changes, and nine road segments were recommended for changes.

Those recommended changes included posting speed limits where there are currently no speed limit signs, reducing speed limits and - in three cases - increasing the speed limit.

The road segments recommended for increase included Highway 101 between Cliff Street and the north city limit, from 35 to 40 mph; Las Banderas Drive from Lomas Santa Fe to San Andreas Drive, 30 to 35 mph; and Stevens Avenue, from Lomas Santa Fe to San Rodolfo Drive, from 30 to 35 mph.

According to the city staff report presented to the council, when a traffic survey is conducted, the speed limit is recommended to be set based on the speed at or below that at which 85 percent of the motorists are driving.

However, council members seemed reluctant to raise speed limits, particularly when motorists are driving faster than posted limits.

Councilwoman Jewel Edson said she “heartily” opposed raising the speed limits for the three segments recommended by the consultant.

“It seems like we are rewarding people who speed by increasing the speed limit for them,” Edson said.

After discussing the proposed changes, the council rejected the proposed speed limit increases for two of the three road segments recommended by the consultant.

They also decided to lower the speed limit on Highland Drive, between Lomas Santa Fe Drive and San Lucas Drive, from 35 mph to 25 mph, although the consultant had recommended no change for that section of roadway. In doing so, the council noted the proximity of the golf course at the Lomas Santa Fe Country Club and the golf carts that cross the road.

City Manager Greg Wade said that if the council chose to set the speed limit lower than that recommended by the traffic survey, Sheriff’s deputies would not be able to use radar to enforce the speed limit for that section of roadway, or to defend against court challenges if a citation is issued. Deputies could still enforce the speed limit by “pacing,” or driving along with a vehicle, he said.

Following are the speed limit changes approved by the council:

--Highland Drive, from San Mario Drive to Lomas Santa Fe. Currently not posted, set to 35 mph.

--Highway 101, Cliff Street to north city limit, increased from 35 mph to 40 mph.

--Highway 101, from Dahlia southbound for 850 feet, from 40 mph to 35 mph due to angled parking, sharrows and closely spaced driveways. (Set to 40 mph for the rest of the way to Via de la Valle.)

--Las Banderas Drive, from Lomas Santa Fe to San Andreas, reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph.

--Marine View Drive, from San Andreas Drive to Solana Drive, from not posted to 30 mph.

--Stevens Avenue, from San Rodolfo Drive to Genevieve, reduced from 40 mph to 35 mph.

--Stevens Avenue, from Genevieve to Nardo Avenue, reduce from 40 mph to 35 mph.

--Stevens and Valley avenues, from Nardo Avenue to Via de la Valle, reduced from 40 mph to 35 mph.

--Highland Avenue, from Lomas Santa Fe to San Lucas Drive, reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph.