A speed limit sign on Van Ness Avenue on Tuesday March 19, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

A speed limit sign on Van Ness Avenue on Tuesday March 19, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Staff, council scrap city-wide 20 mph plan

Neighborhoods can still request lower limits

Renton is back to its original plan for creating 20 mph zones throughout the city; let neighborhoods decide if it wants a slower speed.

On Aug. 5, city staff recommended to the Transportation comittee a procedure for folks to establish their own neighborhood-wide speed limit that is similar to the city’s annexation policy.

Now a requester must gather petition signatures from 10 percent of the “residents, building occupants or property owners” in the area who would like the speed limit lowered, according to a memo from the Aug. 5 transportation committee agenda. After that, the city will create a “logical boundary” for the change.

The requester then needs to bring back petition signatures from 50 percent of the area. Soon after, an ordinance is presented to Renton City Council for approval. If adopted staff will install the signs in the requester’s neighborhood showing the new 20 mph speed limit.

City staff estimated moving the whole city to a defacto 20 mph speed limit would have cost $20,500. The cost would come from changing out 450, 25 mph speed limit signs.

When city staff first came to the Transportation Committee with the issue on May 20, councilmembers decided to reduce the citywide defacto speed from 25 mph to 20 mph on residential streets, as previously reported by Renton Reporter. That decision was met with negative public response, according to discussions at subsequent transportation committee meetings, so council instructed city staff to go back to the drawing board.

Because the LaCrosse neighborhood originally requested to have its speed limit changed, that request is going to jump past the 10 percent petition step of the new process. The city already conducted a speed study for the neighborhood and drafted a boundary, according to staff.

This all started after the LaCrosse neighborhood expressed interest in changing its speed limit based on state House Bill 1045 from 2013, which allows cities and towns to establish 20 mph speed zones on non-arterial roads. The only Washington city that has reduced speeds to 20 mph is Seattle, according to city staff. Out of state, Portland and New York City have established city-wide 20 mph speed limits, but New York City discontinued its limit in 2015.

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