By Sue Pascoe
The Palisades News received the following letter from Councilman Mike Bonin’s Deputy Chief of Staff David Graham-Caso on November 28:
“Your recent story was riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods.
“Your story implied that the Los Angeles Police Department was unable to enforce speeding violations on Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades, and that the City has failed to conduct required speed surveys on 75% of all city streets, and on 80% of all streets with a high incidence of injuries and serious collisions. Your story was wrong on all counts. Had you contacted our office, we would have shared with you that:
“• Under Councilman Bonin’s leadership as chair of the Transportation Committee, the City has embarked on a dramatic and aggressive updating of its speed surveys and its ability to enforce speeding violations. Removing this tremendous backlog has been a priority of Councilman Bonin’s as champion of Vision Zero, an international program to eliminate traffic fatalities.
“• The ability to use radar enforcement on Sunset Boulevard was restored earlier this fall after a brief lapse, with no increase in the speed limit.
“• In October, the Transportation Committee approved updated speed surveys, allowing LAPD to enforce speeding regulations on 99.7% of the streets on the “high injury network” and on two-thirds of all streets in Los Angeles. The full Council is scheduled to formally approve this item this week.
“• Additional actions pushed by Councilman Bonin will result in legal enforcement of speed limits on nearly 100% of city streets next year.”
The News responded to Graham-Caso that we were happy to correct any inaccuracies because truth is important to us.
We asked to see the survey and Graham-Caso provided us with the following link: http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2017/17-1183_rpt_BTC_10-19-2017.pdf. Eighty surveys had been done, but none were in the Palisades, so we emailed Graham-Caso and relayed that information.
He responded by email on November 30, “I’m working on getting that additional clarification. When is your deadline?”
The News replied, tomorrow and added that if the story was incorrect, “I’m happy to say I made a mistake—but according to what I was told, the roads need to be surveyed (state law), in order to make changes—it takes more than a city/town ordinance.”
There was no response from the councilman’s office. On November 30, the News emailed Graham-Caso “I’m waiting to hear from you about what you’ve found out. Has there been a survey of Sunset or Palisades Drive? If there is, may I see it?” No response.
On December 12, the News spoke to LAPD West Traffic Division Community Traffic Services Unit Radar-Laser Coordinator Officer Dale Ziesmer.
He explained the survey on Sunset had originally been done on February 14, 2007 and was good through 2014. A 10-year extension on the initial survey allowed officers to use radar through February 14, 2017.
“I have not yet received a new survey for Sunset,” he said, and confirmed “We can’t use radar unless a survey is done.”
He was asked about some resident fears that a new survey might result in higher speeds on Sunset. “Given the totality of the accidents and the residential nature of the area, the speed limit should stay the same,” Ziesmer said.
He was asked about Palisades Drive, when it was surveyed and when that survey ex- pired. “I don’t see anything,” Ziesmer said.
The News contacted Brian Doherty, city transportation engineering aide, in charge of city speed surveys on December 12, and asked about Sunset and Palisades Drive.
He responded by email that the survey for Sunset expired on February 14, 2017 and the survey for Palisades Drive expired March 28, 2012.
He was asked if they were on a list to be surveyed.
“Yes, both streets will be surveyed next year,” Doherty said.
The News stands by its article that until the surveys are completed on Sunset and Palisades Drive, law enforcement officials cannot use radar enforcement.