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Goleta Implements Lower Speed Limits in School Zones

{mosimage}The recently signed bill will allow for a decrease to 15 miles per hour in certain school zones.

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With its implementation of California Assembly Bill 321, Goleta will be the first city in California to decrease speed limits in some residential-area school zones to 15 to 20 mph.

The bill, signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger on Oct. 10, applies to schools located in residential areas, serviced by two-lane roads with a maximum posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour in the school zone. If city or county engineering and traffic survey find that the existing 25 mph speed limit is higher than what is considered safe, speed limits may be lowered to 15 miles per hour. The bill also allows the extension of school zone limits from 500 feet to 1,000 feet from school property, so that the 500 feet closest to the school property would have the 15 to 20 mph speed limit and the remaining area would be subject to a 25 mph limit.

“Anytime you’re going even 25 miles per hour in the school zone it’s dangerous,” said County Sheriff’s Sergeant Greg Nordyke, who serves in Goleta. Nordyke has in the past been involved with efforts to maintain a double penalty for violations within the school zone, but when the term of that bill expired last January, he worked with Assemblyman Pedro Nava to create the bill that would decrease speed limits over a larger area around schools.

“We don’t set out in the morning with the intention of injuring a child,” said Paula Perotte, 15th District state PTA president, “but we’re all in a hurry, and we just need to go slow in front of a school.”

The City Council, minus a vacationing Mayor Michael Bennett, voted unanimously to implement what they unofficially dubbed “Nordyke’s Bill.” They also presented Nordyke with a certificate of appreciation for his effort.

In the city of Goleta, all but three schools are eligible for the decreased speed limit. Ellwood Elementary and Montessori School are located on roads with a speed limit more than 30 mph and Montessori School does not have the street frontage to implement this bill.

The legislation takes effect on Jan. 1. Prior to that, said Goleta public information officer Kirsten Deshler, the city will be conducting educational outreach and installing the signs.

 

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