The Marin office of the California Highway Patrol has been prompted by a published story and neighbor complaints to explain more about speed enforcement along Atherton Avenue on Novato’s rural east side following a vote by the Marin County Board of Supervisors to raise the speed limit in certain areas outside the city limits.
The CHP said many concerns were raised by a March 14 story in the Marin Independent Journal that said there is no speed enforcement taking place in the Atherton area in question, between Bugeia Lane and Highway 37, where the limit is being bumped up from 40 to 45 mph. The IJ was quoting a statement from Judy Arnold, the supervisor who represents most of Novato.
In a follow-up story after the supervisors voted, the IJ said six people spoke out against raising the limit.
“This statement is inaccurate as the CHP Marin Area has, and will continue to, take appropriate enforcement action whenever a violation of California speed laws are observed,” the CHP wrote in a release sent Wednesday. “Under the current circumstances, California statutory and case law specifically prohibits the use of radar/lidar on this portion of Atherton Avenue. In an ongoing effort to enforce California speed laws, the CHP continues to employ other methods of enforcement along Atherton Avenue, such as patrol vehicle and aircraft pacing.”
Once the new speed limit is established and an engineering and traffic survey is conducted in accordance with state law, the CHP can deploy all methods — including the hand-held radar/lidar devices — to monitor drivers’ speed.
According to a 2004 survey, 85 percent of drivers were observed driving 48 mph on that stretch of the road, the CHP said. Under a new survey, the 85th percentile was established as 45 mph. State law previously allowed for establishing a speed limit up to nine miles per hour lower than the 85th percentile, but “this is no longer the case and officials must establish the speed limit at the nearest 5 mph increment,” the CHP said.
Once new speed limit signs are put up, the CHP can conduct speed enforcement.
Those with non-emergency traffic complaints are encouraged to call the CHP Marin Area Office in Corte Madera at 415-924‑1100.