South San Francisco, CA September 6, 2023 Press Release
Safe Streets for Schools, Safe Streets for South San Francisco
Enhancing the safety of streets for children, families, and community members, the City of South San Francisco is lowering speed limits to 15 miles per hour (MPH) in selected school zones whenever children are present. This initiative aligns with the City’s General Plan and Vision Zero strategy, which aims to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by 2025.
In partnership with the South San Francisco Unified School District and Superintendent Dr. Shawnterra Moore, the City of South San Francisco completed a comprehensive needs assessment of school zones. As part of this effort, the City developed a strategic plan implementing a reduced speed limit of 15 MPH within select school zones whenever children are present.
In July, the City adopted a prima facie speed limit of 15 MPH for twelve eligible K-12 schools located within City’s limits. In 2017, a 15 MPH speed limit was adopted near Sunshine Gardens Elementary School.
To ensure a comprehensive and well-informed approach, the City worked closely with the School District, actively engaging parents, families, and school principals to gather their valuable insights and opinions. Stakeholder and community support is vital to the project’s success and this collaborative effort demonstrates the City’s commitment to shaping an initiative responsive to community concerns and needs. In response to community feedback, traffic safety enhancements and calming measures will be implemented around school premises. These traffic improvements complement the new 15 MPH school zone, enhancing safety and promoting increased driver awareness in the vicinity of the schools.
The project is currently in the design phase, with the designers incorporating the feedback received from the individual schools. Prior to implementing the project, the City will collaborate with the schools to actively communicate and educate students, families, and the public about the 15 MPH school zone, with the goal of improving overall compliance.
The twelve qualified schools for the 15 MPH school zone speed reduction include:
- All Souls Catholic School
- Alta Loma Middle School
- Baden High School
- Buri Buri Elementary School
- El Camino High School
- Los Cerritos Elementary School
- Martin Elementary School
- Parkway Heights Middle School
- Ponderosa Elementary School
- Saint Veronica Catholic School
- South San Francisco High School
- Spruce Elementary School
The City continues to work with neighboring cities as there are three qualified schools that fall under the South San Francisco Unified School District but are located outside of the official boundaries of the City. The guidelines for these reduced school zone speed limits are informed by Assembly Bill 321 (Nava) and the California Vehicle Code (CVC) 22358.4a(1). These regulations grant authority to local jurisdictions, upon adoption of local ordinance or resolution, to establish school zone speed limits of 15 or 20 MPH within 500 feet of school premises. These regulations are specifically applicable to two-lane roads situated within residential districts, where the posted speed limit is 30 MPH or lower.
Backed by comprehensive research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other reputable studies, the City will establish reduced speed limits in school zones by Spring 2024. This initiative will reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by prioritizing feedback obtained by stakeholders and the community. The City remains committed to safer streets by eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries in South San Francisco
EDITORS NOTE: Readers have asked Everything South City to continue to share background information as we have it and many have expressed appreciation when we do provide additional information, especially regarding changes in our local ordinances, zones, mandates, and laws. To that end, we have requested additional information from the Mayor’s Office regarding the NHTSA comprehensive research along with the links to ‘other reputable studies’ that have been mentioned in the press release above. We will update, with a noted edit, when that information is made available to us.
Please note, that we are doing the best we can to stay up to date with continued changes and the public’s inquiry for additional information on multiple subjects. Thank you for your patience. – KSW/ Team ESC
Assembly Bill 321 (Nava)
ILL ANALYSIS SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE BILL NO: ab 321 SENATOR ALAN LOWENTHAL, CHAIRMAN AUTHOR: nava VERSION: 6/27/07 Analysis by: Carrie Cornwell FISCAL: yes Hearing date: July 10, 2007 SUBJECT: School zone: speed limits DESCRIPTION: This bill allows a local government to declare a speed limit of 15 mile per hour (MPH) in school zones and to expand the distance a 25 MPH school zone may be in force to 1000 feet from the school. ANALYSIS: Speed limits are generally set in accordance with engineering and traffic studies, which measure prevailing vehicular speeds and establish the limit at or near the 85th percentile (i.e., the speed which is exceeded by 15% of motorists), unless other safety-related factors suggest that a lower speed limit would be appropriate. California law uses the 85th percentile to set speed limits, except in cases where the limit is set in state law, such as the 65 MPH limit on divided highways, 55 MPH on an undivided highway, and 25 MPH in residence districts. Speed limits only take effect when the government authority posts them on signs. Existing law provides for a prima facie speed limit of 25 miles per hour in school zones when children are present, but it also allows a local authority by ordinance to determine and declare a speed limit of 20 or 15 miles per hour. To declare a lower speed limit, the local jurisdiction must conduct an engineering and traffic survey to show that the 25-hour speed limit is more than is reasonable or safe for a particular school zone. School zones are a distance of up to 500 feet away from the school on any street that passes a school. AB 321 (NAVA) Page 2 Similarly, a local government can impose and post a speed limit in a residence district that is higher than the prima facie speed limit of 25 MPH provided it conducts an engineering and traffic survey to show that a higher speed limit up to 65 MPH would facilitate the orderly movement of traffic and is reasonable and safe. Existing law defines a residence district as one with at least 13 separate dwelling units or business structures along a quarter mile stretch of one side of a highway or 16 units along a quarter mile stretch of both sides of a highway. This bill : 1.Allows a local government by ordinance to declare, without having to complete a engineering and traffic study, a prima facie speed limit of 15 MPH in a school zone in a residence district in its jurisdiction. 2.Allows the local government to expand the school zone in a residence district to a distance of 1000 feet on streets approaching a school, but between 500 and 1000 feet, the speed limit shall be 25 MPH. 3.Provides that for state highways, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) must also approve the ordinance establishing these 15 MPH and 25 MPH school zone speed limits and that the local government must reimburse Caltrans for its costs. COMMENTS: 1.Purpose . The author introduced this bill to provide a tool to local schools and cities, if they choose to use it, to combat tragic accidents and unwarranted deaths and protects a segment of population that is often times defenseless when they cross streets near our schools. 2.Do lower speed limits lower speeds ? Nationwide speed limits are generally set at or near the 85th percentile, based on an engineering and traffic study. The rationale behind the 85th percentile methodology, which empirical studies have repeatedly borne out, is that 70% of motorists drive within a 10 MPH band of speed, 15% drive slower, and 15% driver much faster. Because vehicles going widely differing speeds on the AB 321 (NAVA) Page 3 same road cause accidents, the speed limit is set to slow the top 15% down. That is, it is set at the 85th percentile. Setting speed limits on a street without the use of such a study has the potential to make violators out of almost everyone that drives the particular stretch of street. As the author notes tragic accidents have occurred on and near school grounds, but is unclear whether and how simply lowering the speed limit will lower speeds and reduce accidents. 3.Proposed amendment . While the prima facie speed limit in a residence district is 25 MPH, a local government can increase that speed limit, up to 65 MPH, if conditions and an engineering and traffic study show that a higher speed limit would facilitate the orderly movement of traffic and is reasonable and safe. Some - including the Auto Clubs -- have suggested, therefore, that this bill should be amended to allow local governments to impose the 15 MPH school zone speed limit and to expand the school zone to 1000 feet only in those residence district with a speed limit of 30 MPH or slower. Otherwise, the bill could allow for radical changes in permitted speeds along stretches of highways. The author or the committee may wish to amend the bill to limit its application to residence districts with speed limits of 30 MPH or less. 4.Previous legislation . Last year, SB 1227 (Denham) would have, as introduced, established a prima facie speed limit of 15 MPH in school zones. In this committee, the author accepted amendments to make the bill a pilot project to establish a 15 MPH prima facie school zone speed limit in Merced and Monterey Counties and to permit signs on the street in those school zones that would read "Children are Present" and post the speed limit. In this amended form, SB 1227 passed this committee on a 10 to 2 vote, but was ultimately held on suspense in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Assembly Votes: Floor: 78 - 1 Appr: 17 - 0 Trans: 14 - 0 POSITIONS: (Communicated to the Committee before noon on Wednesday, July 4, 2007) SUPPORT: American Federation of State, County and AB 321 (NAVA) Page 4 Municipal Employees Fifteenth District PTA OPPOSED: None received.
(1)Whenever a local authority determines upon the basis of an engineering and traffic survey that the prima facie speed limit of 25 miles per hour established by paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 22352 is more than is reasonable or safe, the local authority may, by ordinance or resolution, determine and declare a prima facie speed limit of 20 or 15 miles per hour, whichever is justified as the appropriate speed limit by that survey.
An ordinance or resolution adopted under paragraph (1) shall not be effective until appropriate signs giving notice of the speed limit are erected upon the highway and, in the case of a state highway, until the ordinance is approved by the Department of Transportation and the appropriate signs are erected upon the highway.
(1)Notwithstanding subdivision (a) or any other provision of law, a local authority may, by ordinance or resolution, determine and declare prima facie speed limits as follows:
A 15 miles per hour prima facie limit in a residence district, on a highway with a posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour or slower, when approaching, at a distance of less than 500 feet from, or passing, a school building or the grounds of a school building, contiguous to a highway and posted with a school warning sign that indicates a speed limit of 15 miles per hour, while children are going to or leaving the school, either during school hours or during the noon recess period. The prima facie limit shall also apply when approaching, at a distance of less than 500 feet from, or passing, school grounds that are not separated from the highway by a fence, gate, or other physical barrier while the grounds are in use by children and the highway is posted with a school warning sign that indicates a speed limit of 15 miles per hour.
A 25 miles per hour prima facie limit in a residence district, on a highway with a posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour or slower, when approaching, at a distance of 500 to 1,000 feet from, a school building or the grounds thereof, contiguous to a highway and posted with a school warning sign that indicates a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, while children are going to or leaving the school, either during school hours or during the noon recess period. The prima facie limit shall also apply when approaching, at a distance of 500 to 1,000 feet from, school grounds that are not separated from the highway by a fence, gate, or other physical barrier while the grounds are in use by children and the highway is posted with a school warning sign that indicates a speed limit of 25 miles per hour.
The prima facie limits established under paragraph (1) apply only to highways that meet all of the following conditions:
A maximum of two traffic lanes.
A maximum posted 30 miles per hour prima facie speed limit immediately prior to and after the school zone.
The prima facie limits established under paragraph (1) apply to all lanes of an affected highway, in both directions of travel.
When determining the need to lower the prima facie speed limit, the local authority shall take the provisions of Section 627 into consideration.
(A)An ordinance or resolution adopted under paragraph (1) shall not be effective until appropriate signs giving notice of the speed limit are erected upon the highway and, in the case of a state highway, until the ordinance is approved by the Department of Transportation and the appropriate signs are erected upon the highway.
For purposes of subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1), school warning signs indicating a speed limit of 15 miles per hour may be placed at a distance up to 500 feet away from school grounds.
For purposes of subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1), school warning signs indicating a speed limit of 25 miles per hour may be placed at any distance between 500 and 1,000 feet away from the school grounds.
A local authority shall reimburse the Department of Transportation for all costs incurred by the department under this subdivision.
Source: Section 22358.4,
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH§ionNum=22358.4. (last updated Aug. 19, 2023).