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Up the speed limit to slow down drivers?

March 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
In most neighborhoods people want traffic to slow down. But in Sun Valley there's a move to raise the speed limit on a busy roadway.Speed limit or no speed limit, on Sheldon Avenue vehicles move fast. The posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour.

"People are driving 50 miles an hour," said motorist Robert Struthers.

City officials want to slow down this traffic, but ironically, to do that they have to raise the speed limit. The reason is through a quirk in state law: traffic speeds must be studied for seven years and then a formula is used to come up with the average speed of drivers. In this case it would be 40 miles per hour.

"In order to use radar to enforce the speed limit we have to raise the speed limit. So it's a quirk in the law, it's something that has been troublesome ever since I've been on the council back in the '90s," said L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon.

The streets that could see the speed limit go up include Arleta Avenue, between Devonshire and Roscoe, Sheldon Street between Glenoaks and Roscoe, and Hollywood Way, from the Burbank border to Glenoaks Boulevard.

Councilman Richard Alarcon grew up in the area.

"My sister was almost killed on Sheldon and it was a result of somebody driving fast, with kids walking after school," said Alarcon. "Our police are trying to enforce our speed limits but the speed limits keep increasing because drivers keep stretching the limits, and so it's a problem throughout."

"The most efficient movement of motor vehicles is 28 to 35 miles an hour," said community activist Stephen Box.

Not everyone likes the idea. Box is a community activist who believes the streets could be redesigned to encourage drivers to slow down.

"The most efficient regulation of speed isn't radar and laser, it's good design," said Box. "We could synchronize our lights so they encourage good speeds."

No matter what happens, officials say some people will speed through these streets. They hope increased enforcement will slow them down.