Allen’s Legislation to Allow Speed Cameras on PCH in Malibu Moving in Sacramento. Santa Monica Removed from Legislation by Committee.

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This story includes reporting initially from a legislative update at Streetsblog California that includes more on E-bike Classifications and Batteries. Read the rest of the report here.

This story is an edited copy of a legislative update at Streetsblog California that includes more on e-bike classifications and batteries. Read the rest of the report here.

The ink is barely dry on last year’s speed camera bill from Assemblymember Laura Friedman, and already there is at least one bill to add another city to the six named in A.B. 645. 

Senator Ben Allen proposed S.B. 1297 to allow speed cameras on a grid of intersections in Malibu, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills, but yesterday he told the committee he accepted their amendments limiting it to adding five speed cameras along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. It would also require Malibu to add “enhanced” signs to alert drivers of the speed limit, and to continue funding California Highway Patrol traffic enforcement within the city of Malibu.

So why would a committee of Senators from all over the state care about which small cities in Los Angeles County can (and can’t) use speed cameras to make their streets safer? Basically, because they are concerned that the more cities are allowed to take part in the pilot program, the more cities  will want to be part of the pilot program.

And it’s a missed opportunity for Santa Monica. When news leaked that Allen was working on a bill to allow Malibu to enter the speed camera program, safety advocates in Santa Monica, West Hollywood and even Santa Monica Councilmember Jesse Zwick rallied to get other cities in Allen’s district included in the legislation. They were successful, and Allen ultimately included those cities in the bill.

Allen’s proposal would have allowed  the usage of speed cameras on State Highway 1, PCH and a portion of Lincoln Boulevard through the cities of Malibu and Santa

Monica as well as State Highway 2, also known as Santa Monica Boulevard, through West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

But it was not to be.

Ultimately, all of the cities mentioned, plus  a provision that would allow cities to lower speed limits on  PCH even though it’s a state highway, were removed by “friendly amendments.” Malibu remained in the legislation because the 21 miles of PCH in Malibu are even more deadly than the road in Santa Monica, which regularly sees crashes but hasn’t experienced one as gruesome as the crash that killed four Pepperdine students in late 2023.

“As a father, I am heartbroken every time I see yet another news report of a fatal car crash on PCH,” said Senator Allen, who represents Malibu in the state Senate and is authoring the legislation. 

“The Malibu community is devastated by far too many serious injuries and deaths each year. Today’s passage of SB 1297 out of committee is the first step to providing the City with the necessary tools to crack down on reckless speeding and save lives.”

Senator Allen’s office has said they would like to see the program extended beyond just Malibu, but yesterday was focused on getting the legislation passed by the committee.

The speed cameras would have to comply with the same equity, privacy, and clear communication provisions in the original bill. The cities that are already part of the program are making progress, but none of them have begun to deploy any cameras yet. San Francisco may be the farthest along, and that city has gotten as far as selecting the intersections where they will be placed.

Most of the conversation at the committee hearing was about deplorable driving habits along PCH and the high numbers of injuries and fatalities due to speeding in the corridor. Front and center was the crash that killed four Pepperdine students last year when a driver going over 100 mph hit them while they waited for the bus.

Allen’s argument is that PCH through Malibu has an extraordinarily high incidence of serious car crashes for its size, and that its traffic environment is “uniquely hazardous.” It’s a high-speed corridor with few safe crossings and high foot traffic because of the popular beach and commercial destinations that line it.

While this is undoubtedly true, it’s also true of many places in California. One commenter warned that this could be “the first of many such bills,” as cities clamor to be added to the program.

Meanwhile Senators Seyarto and Niello both expressed doubts that the cameras were enough of a deterrent for reckless driving.

Southern California allowed its coastal route to become a high-speed throughway that is hostile to people on foot, transit, and bike, even though tourists, residents, and businesses all want to get in and out of destinations all along it. That’s a description of many towns and cities in the state, and it’s going to take more than a few speed cameras to fix it.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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