SFMTA Moves to Lower Speed Limit on Ocean Avenue, Other Streets Under New State Law

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency began advertising plans to lower the speed limit on stretches of Ocean Avenue on Wednesday, Oct. 27. Alex Mullaney/Ingleside Light

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San Francisco is not wasting time following Gov. Gavin Newsom signing of Assembly Bill 43, authored by Assembymember Laura Friedman, which gives local jurisdictions more control over speed limits on city streets.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency plans to hold an engineering hearing on Nov. 5 to allow for public feedback on seven corridors proposed for a speed reduction of 5 miles per hour from 25 mph to 20 mph. One of the corridors being proposed is Ocean Avenue between Geneva Avenue to Victoria Street and from Junipero Serra Boulevard to 19th Avenue.

The SFMTA said they will carry out AB43 in two phases. Under the provision of the bill that takes effect in January next year, the agency will lower the speed limit by 5 mph in business districts where at least 50% of the properties on the street are for retail or dining uses. The proposed area of Ocean Avenue to lower the speed meets the bill’s criteria as a business district.

Another provision of the bill will allow local jurisdictions to lower speeds by 5 mph on streets that are identified as “safety corridors.” However, that portion bill will not go into effect until June 2024 and requires the California Department of Transportation to define a safety corridor.

In a blog post Thursday, the agency said reducing the speed limit is the “single most effective tool” that will help the city meet its Vision Zero goal — eliminating traffic-related deaths by 2024. 

“Even slowing traffic down by 5 mph can make a difference of whether or not someone survives a crash, and AB43 will enable SFMTA to set speeds that promote safer streets for all along key corridors,” according to the agency.

Data from the city shows there have been a total of 20 traffic fatalities through the end of September.

Lowering the speed limits will require the approval from the SFMTA’s Board of Directors. Staff plan to bring the first seven corridors to the board in December for approval, according to the agency.

Other corridors up for approval include portions of 24th Street, Fillmore Street, Haight Street, Polk Street and San Bruno Avenue.

More information on how the public can attend the public hearing can be found on the SFMTA’s website. The public can also email comments to Sustainable.Streets@SFMTA.com with the subject line “Public Hearing.”