Editorial: Make More Cities Safe on the PCH

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In his last constituent newsletter, Councilmember Jesse Zwick urged readers to contact State Senator Ben Allen and ask that he include Santa Monica in legislation that will authorize a speed camera pilot program in various cities within his Senate District. Last year, the legislature passed a law allowing speed camera pilots in six cities and counties, including the City of Los Angeles. Speed cameras are not allowed anywhere else in the state. For more on last year’s speed camera legislation, visit Streetsblog California.

Responding to calls for Malibu to be included in the speed camera pilot on the Pacific Coast Highway following the crash that killed four Pepperdine students standing on the side of the road; Allen introduced S.B. 1297. But when word got out, officials in other cities in Allen’s district have gotten into the queue asking why not us too?

The need for speed cameras along the PCH in Malibu is pretty clear. There are regularly crashes, many of them at high speed, that snarl traffic at best and lead to catastrophic injury or death at the worst. For its part, Malibu has been aggressive adding more patrols and working on partnerships with the CHP and County Sheriffs to better enforce the law, and the city is already planning for 1297 to pass.

Meanwhile in Santa Monica, the city is investing in progressive transportation interventions but falling short of its goal of dramatically reducing fatal crashes to zero. In response to 1297, Zwick writes of speed cameras, “I believe we need these tools in Santa Monica as well and have asked that the proposed law be expanded to include our portion of the PCH, as well as Santa Monica and Lincoln Blvd.”

The final text of SB 1297 has yet to be posted and the current language doesn’t mention Malibu and expressly prohibits speed cameras on state highways (such as State Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway or PCH). Staff with the senator’s office confirmed that Malibu will be included in the final language to be added to the list of cities included in the pilot as it was the original focus of this effort. However, staff also added that other cities may be included as discussions are ongoing.

If nothing else, we offer that the other portions of the PCH in Allen’s district should be included as well. Crashes occur along the route regularly, as demonstrated by the (thankfully non-fatal) crash near the California Incline in Santa Monica that occurred just yesterday.Cities are calling out for more ways to make their streets safe, and Santa Monica is doing more than most. While we’re not doubting the need is great in Malibu, if the legislature passes 1297 it would be great if it helped make more than once city safe on the PCH.

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