ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council established a business district downtown to reduce speed limits, part of an overall goal of slowing down traffic throughout the city.
“I come from a part of town where we’re really proud of our unofficial slogan, which is, ‘Slow the funk down,’” Councilmember Kellie Hinze said. “And to me, it seems like we get a more vibrant city when we’re able to do that citywide.”
The business activity district allows the city to lower the speed limit to 25 mph. City traffic engineer Rajeev Thakur explained that a district between D Street and J Street could be created. However, Thakur noted the area couldn’t be extended further south because it wouldn’t connect to a 30 mph segment, per state law.
The council unanimously passed ordinances to establish the business district downtown and directed staff to study expanding it.
Assembly Bill 43 provides new opportunities for cities to lower speed limits by an additional five miles per hour in areas with high pedestrian and bicycle traffic or with many past collisions.
“The way it’s written is very flexible,” City Traffic Engineer Abraham Bandegan said. “I feel very confident that whatever direction the council wants to provide us, we will be able to implement that five-mile reduction.”
Council members strongly support maximizing the new allowances under AB 43, which takes effect Jan. 1.
Several council members identified specific roads that could be considered for speed limit reductions based on collision history maps. Councilmember Bruce Ehlers noted Leucadia Boulevard, El Camino Real, La Costa Avenue and Encinitas Boulevard.
Mayor Tony Kranz and Ehlers walked La Costa Avenue themselves and noticed “most of the people were speeding,” Ehlers said.
Deputy Mayor Joy Lyndes advocated for lowering speeds on South El Camino Real near Manchester Avenue due to the new development of a senior living community.
Enforcement was also discussed as key to changing driver behavior to match new limits.
“More enforcement does change behavior,” said sheriff’s Capt. Christopher Lawrence.
The council signaled support for increased enforcement when speed limits are lowered. A prioritized list of proposed speed limit changes will be returned for approval.