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South San Francisco Prioritizes Student Safety with School Zone Speed Limit Reductions | #schoolsaftey


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:

  1. All Souls Catholic School
  2. Alta Loma Middle School
  3. Baden High School
  4. Buri Buri Elementary School
  5. El Camino High School
  6. Los Cerritos Elementary School
  7. Martin Elementary School
  8. Parkway Heights Middle School
  9. Ponderosa Elementary School
  10. Saint Veronica Catholic School
  11. South San Francisco High School
  12. 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

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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.


CA Veh Code Section 22358.4

(a)

(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.

(2)

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.

(b)

(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)

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.

(B)

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.

(2)

The prima facie limits established under paragraph (1) apply only to highways that meet all of the following conditions:

(A)

A maximum of two traffic lanes.

(B)

A maximum posted 30 miles per hour prima facie speed limit immediately prior to and after the school zone.

(3)

The prima facie limits established under paragraph (1) apply to all lanes of an affected highway, in both directions of travel.

(4)

When determining the need to lower the prima facie speed limit, the local authority shall take the provisions of Section 627 into consideration.

(5)

(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.

(B)

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.

(C)

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.

(D)

A local authority shall reimburse the Department of Transportation for all costs incurred by the department under this subdivision.






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