The Los Angeles City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to raise speed limits on more than 100 miles of city streets, with officials saying the changes are the only way to resolve a years-long problem that has prevented police officers from ticketing speeding drivers.
Pending approval by Mayor Eric Garcetti, speed limits would rise on some of the Southland’s most familiar thoroughfares, including San Vicente Boulevard through Mid-Wilshire and stretches of Reseda, Victory and Chandler boulevards in the San Fernando Valley.
The increases reflect a Catch-22 that city officials have faced for decades on dozens of miles of major streets: Raise the speed limit, or lose the ability to write most speeding tickets.
The dilemma stems from a decades-old California law designed to protect drivers from speed traps, which requires cities to post speed limits that reflect the natural speed of traffic. If a speed limit is too low, or if it is more than seven years old, police cannot use radar guns or other electronic devices to write speeding tickets there.
As recently as this summer, more than 200 miles of Los Angeles streets, including corridors that are among the deadliest for pedestrians and bicyclists, had expired limits and very little speed enforcement, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Transportation Department’s proposal would raise the speed limit on 101.6 miles of streets and boost the share of streets where officers can write speeding tickets to 97.5 percent, officials told the newspaper.
Nearly two-thirds of the street miles that would see higher speed limits are in the Valley, which has seen several waves of increases over the last decade on its broad, flat boulevards. Most Valley streets would see speeds rise to 40 mph and 45 mph.
The proposed increases follow the City Council’s decision last December to raise speed limits on 94 miles of streets, mainly in the Valley.