and answers for everyday traffic operations in the City of Calabasas
Q: WE HAVE MOTORISTS SPEEDING ON OUR
CITY STREETS. HOW CAN YOU HELP US WITH THIS PROBLEM?
is a behavioral issue that comes out of the demand of our
increasingly busy lives. People often drive faster from their homes
to their destinations and vice versa. The City’s Traffic Division
receives several hundred complaints each year from concerned
citizens regarding speeding, especially on their residential
The City of Calabasas implements the following
actions to respond to speeding complaints:
Q: CAN THE CITY INSTALL SPEED HUMPS
ON MY STREET?
on residential streets is a common complaint reported by concerned
citizens throughout the City. Speed humps are often requested
because they are perceived as a quick and effective solution to
speeding. Research has shown, however, that speed humps are not
always an effective or safe traffic control device.
Speed humps will only be installed upon approval
of the City Council, after a public hearing and in conformance
with the standard design in effect at the time of installation.
Speed humps are still considered experimental
roadway features. Therefore, additions, alterations or removals
of any and all speed humps may occur at any time.
Q: CAN THE CITY LOWER THE SPEED LIMIT
ON A PARTICULAR STREET?
law requires local agencies to establish speed limits based on
traffic engineering surveys. The City of Calabasas conducts speed
surveys Citywide once every five years. These surveys include an
analysis of roadway conditions, accident records, and a sampling of
the prevailing speed of traffic. The prevailing speed is determined
by measuring existing speeds of motorists during free-flow
(typically off-peak) within the respective zone. A safe and
reasonable speed limit is set at or below the speed at which 85
percent of drivers are moving.
Speed limits set above the prevailing speed are
generally considered unreasonable and unsafe. Conversely, speed
limits set below the prevailing speed do not provide for the orderly
movements of traffic. Lowering the speed limit more than what is
considered appropriate is counterproductive, since the Sheriff’s
department will be unable to efficiently enforce speeds. Traffic
flowing at a uniform speed results in increased safety and fewer
accidents. Drivers are less impatient, pass less often, and
tailgate less, which reduces both head-on and rear-end collisions.
Citizens often request that the speed limit be lower
than 25 mph on residential streets in an effort to slow traffic.
The 25 mph speed limit on residential streets is established by
State law and set automatically based on conditions defined in the
California Vehicle Code. This speed limit, which is often referred
to as “prima facie” limit does not require posting signs for
enforcement. If the speed limit on residential streets is lowered
more than the prima facie limit, drivers will ignore it and will
continue to drive at a speed they feel is safe and reasonable.
Other prima facie speed limits include the 25 mph speed limit in a
business district, 25 mph in school zones and when children are
present, and 15 mph in alley.
Q: HOW CAN I GET A SPEED LIMIT SIGN
ON MY STREET?
California, the maximum speed limit for passenger cars, trucks and
all vehicles towing trailers is 65 mph. However, selected freeways
in rural areas may be posted to permit a maximum of 70 mph for
passenger cars only. These are absolute limits, which may not be
legally exceeded under any circumstances.
All other speed limits are called prima facie limits
(“on the face of it) which are deemed reasonable and prudent under
Most prima facie limits are established by State and
local authorities who are permitted to set speed limits between 25
and 65 mph on the basis of an engineering and traffic survey. For
these prima facie limits, sign posting is required.
The City installs speed limit signs on all major
roadways. However, traffic engineers may recommend that a speed
limit sign of 25 mph be posted at the entrance to a residential
neighborhood from a major roadway with a high speed limit to get
motorists attention entering a lower speed zone.
Q: CAN I GET “CHILDREN AT PLAY” SIGNS
INSTALLED ON MY STREET?
at Play” signs and similar signs are not recognized by the State of
California or by the Federal Highway Administration as an official
traffic control device and therefore, are not installed by the City
on public streets.
Many people believe that “Children at Play” signs and
similar signs, such as “SLOW” OR “SLOW ENTERING RESIDENTIAL AREA”
enhance the children’s safety, but may not realize that there are
many safety concerns about the use of these signs.
“Children at Play” signs send the wrong message to
our younger citizens by encouraging them to play within the street.
The City discourages this behavior, as a pedestrian’s interactions
with automobiles could result in severe traffic safety
consequences. In addition, “Children at Play” signs tend to create
a false belief for children by letting them assume they are safer
where signs are installed. Such signs have been proven to be
ineffective in providing added protection for children, and the
signs presence could negatively affect the children’s safety on our
Unnecessary signs can confuse and annoy drivers and
foster disrespect for all signs. Signs in accordance with the State
of California’s Traffic Manual can and should be posted for school
zones and pedestrian crossings, where a need exists.
The City provides many neighborhood parks and our
beautiful De Anza Park where children can play safely with proper
supervision. In addition, the City has many other recreational
opportunities for the public, including the Agoura/Calabasas
Community Center and the Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center.
Q: HOW DO I REQUEST A CROSSWALK?
A crosswalk is the portion of a roadway at an
intersection that is the extension of the sidewalk and curb lines of
the intersecting streets, or is any other portion of a roadway
marked as a pedestrian crossing by painted lines. Crosswalks are
either “marked or unmarked”. A marked crosswalk is delineated by
white or yellow painted markings placed on the pavement. It is the
City’s policy not to paint or mark crosswalks at locations where
traffic is not controlled bv a stop sign or traffic signal. In
general, crosswalks should be viewed as channelization devices
rather than safety devices. Marking a crosswalk does not always
increase the safety of pedestrians. Research studies suggest that
marked crosswalks may give pedestrians a false sense of security.
Pedestrians often step off the curb into the crosswalk expecting the
approaching drivers to stop. The crosswalk markings, however, may
not always be readily apparent to drivers from a safe stopping
distance. As a result, drivers sometimes are unable to or fail to
stop, causing an accident. Although drivers must yield the right of
way to pedestrians at crosswalks, two painted lines do not provide
protection against an on-coming vehicle.
Q: CAN YOU INSTALL A STOP SIGN TO
is not uncommon for the City to receive requests to install stop
signs as a way to reduce speeding. However, the purpose of stop
signs is to assign right-of-way at an intersection, not to control
speeding. Research also shows that other measures are often more
effective than adding more stop signs. Public understanding of the
functions of stop signs is one of the most critical elements in
reducing speeding and traffic accidents. The following information
explains our policies and the correct use of stop signs.
The Federal Uniform Traffic Control Devices Manual dictates the
size, shape and color of all traffic signs. This manual has
guidelines for installing signs in an attempt to create uniformity
from state to state. The State of California has a traffic manual,
which is consistent with the Federal Manual. The City complies with
the guidelines of the State Traffic Manual. These guidelines
identify specific conditions that must be present at the
intersection before these traffic control devices may be installed.
For stop signs, these conditions relate to traffic and pedestrian
volumes, accident history, delay, and traffic speeds. The City will
install stop signs at an intersection only after a careful
engineering evaluation of the existing conditions indicates that
their installation is appropriate.
If the concern is
intersection safety, our experience has shown that simply restriping
or improving intersection visability by prohibiting parking near the
intersection can be more effective in improving safety. This often
reduces the need to install m ore restrictive intersection controls.
This is important because installation of unwarranted
stop signs breeds disrespect by motorists and reduces their
effectiveness. In fact, unwarranted stop signs could actually cause
increased speeds by impatient motorists that view the additional
delay as lost time to be made up between stop signs. More
importantly, drivers would eventually realize that there is rarely
any real need to stop at an unwarranted stop sign, after which they
would stop expecting conflicting traffic, stop looking for
conflicting traffic, and roll through the intersection at higher and
higher speeds. Efforts by the Sheriff’s Department to “force”
compliance would be met with understandable outrage – enforcement
can be truly effective only when applied to traffic controls that
are understood and supported by the majority of drivers.
Q: HOW DO I GET A TRAFFIC SIGNAL?
can write, call, or e-mail the City Traffic Engineering Division to
request the installation of a traffic signal at a particular
intersection. Traffic engineers follow certain State and Federal
guidelines and criteria called “warrants” to evaluate the
intersection for a signal installation. If the intersection meets
the warrants, it is then added to a list of other qualified
intersections in the City. In Calabasas, the City established a
signal priority program which determines the need for signalization
on City intersections. The program provides a ranking system among
the intersections that meet the signal warrant criteria, and is then
approved by the City Council. The ranking system is based upon
various traffic data, such as traffic and pedestrian volumes,
accident history, speeds, delays, intersection configuration,
proximity to signalized intersections, schools and senior citizens
residents, and relevant site-specific factors. The signal priority
program provides maximum safety to the community by allocating
limited funds to install a traffic signal at the most critical or
high-priority location(s). The cost of a traffic signal is
approximately $180,000 per intersection and more than $10,000 a year
for maintenance and energy costs. Sometimes traffic signals are
installed as part of a private development to mitigate traffic
impacts. Their location must also meet the State guidelines and
Q: HOW DO I GET A LEFT-TURN SIGNAL?
Left turn signals are called “protected” left-turn
signals. They can be helpful in giving drivers the right-of-way to
complete left-turns free of any other traffic conflict, but when
there is no opposing traffic, they can cause unnecessary delays.
The City uses State guidelines for installing left-turn signal
phasing at existing and proposed intersections. These guidelines
consider traffic volume, accident history, traffic delay and other
elements, such as sight visibility. The guidelines ensure that
treatments, such as left-turn signal phasing, are consistent from
one intersection to the other based on traffic conditions.
Q: CAN YOU SYNCHRONIZE THE SIGNALS
ALONG A PARTICULAR ARTERIAL?
signal synchronization is a method of timing groups of traffic
signals along an arterial to provide smooth movement of traffic with
minimal stops. The quality of the resulting progression is a
function of the spacing of the signals, the prevailing speeds, the
amount of traffic coming in and out of driveways between traffic
signals, the uniformity of intersection sizes, and the cycle length.
Not all City streets warrant synchronization.
Typically, a street is selected for synchronization if it carries a
certain amount of traffic along the arterial during peak hours. In
most cases, synchronization is active from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
during weekdays. The individual signals operate on a
“first-come-first-served” or traffic activated basis outside of
these hours, or all the time if a street is not selected to be
Q. I CANNOT SEE THE ONCOMING TRAFFIC
AT A PARTICULAR INTERSECTION OR WHEN EXITING MY DRIVEWAY. CAN YOU
Engineering staff usually conduct a field study in the area adjacent
to a driveway or at a particular intersection where there is a sight
visibility concern, to determine whether or not prohibition of
parking adjacent to the driveway or near the intersection is
recommended. In addition to the study, staff checks accident
records for the location for the past 12 month period to determine
if the collision data supports the need to remove any parking
In all cases, motorists should exercise caution when
leaving private property or a side street. Motorists should move
forward toward the edge line of the parking lane, thus gaining more
visibility to safely exit the driveway or side street.
Q. CAN I PAINT THE CURB RED AND
INSTALL MY OWN TRAFFIC SIGNS ON MY STREET?
signs and markings shall be placed on public streets only by public
authorities or officials having jurisdiction, for the purpose of
regulating, warning, or guiding traffic as stated in the California
Department of Transportation Traffic Manual (CALTRANS). The City
installs curb paint/no-stopping signs, or other traffic signs and
markings after careful examination for their needs and impact on
City streets. Therefore, all signs or curb markings in the public
right-of-way must be installed by the City or with the City’s
approval. If these signs are not done by the City or without City
approval, they are illegal and cannot be enforced. Furthermore,
such actions by an individual present an unnecessary liability in
case an accident occurs in the area where these signs or curb
markings have been installed illegally, and the City cannot provide
records to justify the need for these signs/markings. The CALTRANS
Traffic Manual also states that any unauthorized sign placed on the
highway right-of-way by private organizations for individuals
constitute a public nuisance and shall be removed.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, REQUESTS OR SUGGESTIONS
CONCERNING TRAFFIC SAFETY MATTERS, PLEASE CONTACT THE TRAFFIC
DIVISION AT 818-224-1600.
SAFETY TIPS FOR CHILDREN
When walking on City streets, pedestrians should keep
the following in mind:
Look in all directions for
cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor bikes before crossing
Never cross the street from
between parked cars because drivers cannot see you.
Always stand on the curb, not
in the street, while waiting to cross.
Cross only at corners where
drivers can see you.
Always use a crosswalk when
it is available, but remember that painted lines cannot force
drivers to stop.
Do not take rides from
Use the push button whenever
possible and cross with the “Walk” signal only.
When crossing the street,
watch for cars that are turning left or right.
When Using Crosswalks with Adult School Crossing Guards:
directions of the crossing guard.
across the street. Always walk.
Be alert for
traffic. Drivers sometimes fail to obey the crossing guard’s
bicycles or skateboards across the street. Walk with them.