As anyone who has ever tried to apply for speed humps to calm traffic on their block can reliably attest, the city’s current system, which involves a semi-annual application window that tends to fill up and close just moments after it opens, is woefully inadequate to meet the need and demand for speed humps in our residential neighborhoods.
For proof, just look at the most recent application period, which opened at 8 a.m. on January 29…and was closed in Council District 4, at maximum capacity, just an hour later. (Overall, the city received 527 applications, with 44 from CD4.)
But things might be changing. Last week, on the very day of the latest application cycle, City Council Member David Ryu introduced a motion proposing that the city, for the first time, increase access to speed humps and speed up their installation by allowing residents, neighborhood associations and developers to fund the installations themselves.
Ryu’s motion asked the Department of Transportation, Chief Legislative Analyst and City Attorney to report back to the Council
“…on the feasibility of developing an opt-in speed hump funding program that would allow residents and/or neighborhood organizations to pay for the installation of speed humps on streets that meet DOT’s minimum speed hump criteria…”
And to make sure the new program wouldn’t just benefit wealthier neighborhoods, it also included the provision…
“…that those residents and/or neighborhood organizations [paying for their own speed humps] make a contribution in an amount set by DOT into a fund which could enable the City to install speed humps in disadvantaged communities determined by DOT to be in need of safety improvements. “
According to CD4 Communications Deputy Mark Pampanin, the goal of the motion is to improve neighborhood and traffic safety. He said many neighbors, when faced with city’s notorious application bottlenecks and delays ask, “Why can’t we just do it ourselves?” Indeed, Pampanin acknowledged, the current application windows are “too short” and that “frustrates a lot of people.”
But while some neighborhoods can easily raise the $15-17,000 needed to install new speed humps, Pampanin said, it’s also important that new opportunities be available to all neighborhoods, and not just those that can afford it. “Equity is crucial to Council Member Ryu,” Pampanin said. “Roads are shared by everybody…you can’t have them just for people that can pay for it.” He said the proposed payment system would work much like the current street development fund, which requires public or private utilities that cut into a street to make a payment into a trust fund that helps pay for street repairs throughout the city (including the concrete street repairs Ryu has piloted and championed in our area).
Speed humps are proven to slow traffic and increase safety, Pampanin said, but we don’t have enough of them and neighborhoods currently do not have adequate opportunities to obtain them…so “we’re trying to find avenues to expand that.”
After the city departments report back, as Ryu’s motion requests, specific provisions would still have to be formalized in a proposed ordinance and go through the standard committee and council approval process before any new rules could be enacted.
This story was updated after publication to add the number of applications received, and in what length of time, during the city’s most recent time window for speed hump applications.