William Gerlach | A Speed Trap in Santa Clarita

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

The following is a copy of a letter to City Manager Ken Striplin. 

I am writing to inform you once again of the speed trap being used to enhance revenue for the city of Santa Clarita. A speed trap is defined by a section of highway that’s calculated by the time it takes the vehicle to travel between two points. It is also defined by a team of multiple officers (two or more ) using a device to calculate your speed. 

I am requesting a copy of the last highway traffic speed survey that was last done per the five-year annual mandate that must be done showing that the 80th percentile of traffic is reflected in the speed limit. If one hasn’t been done in the last five years, I am requesting a new survey be done and that I be made aware of it and receive a copy of it. 

My contention is that the speed on Newhall Avenue is set too low, being it is a gateway to Downtown Newhall but also a six-lane highway with a center divider going to the freeway as well. The road used to be 50 mph before the Newhall redevelopment occurred and was then lowered to 40. All of the other six-lane median highways in this valley are 50 mph and I regularly see, like today, motorcycle officers consistently pulling over cars for driving the average speed on that road. Maybe five years ago I read an article in The Signal that the six motor cops we have write about 375 citations per week and, depending on the amount of the fines, it is unknown to the public how many dollars you bring in annually. 

This afternoon while waiting at the traffic light to turn onto my street I saw one cop pull over a car, then another one riding on the sidewalk in the opposite direction of traffic for one block to get back to his hiding spot by the liquor store. That is another example of the speed trap tactics of the Sheriff’s Department, hiding behind obstructions, parking with backs to the sunlight so drivers can’t see them, parking on sidewalks and simply waiting for cars to pass by. 

I have witnessed very much abuse of power by the police in this valley targeting commuters as revenue enhancement and it needs to stop. Come to think about it, I would also like to see an official tally of all the citations the motorcycle officers wrote last year and the amount of fines collected by the city. In my view it is another form of taxation for driving on public roads. And punishment by the overbearing state. 

I am expecting a written reply to my request soon and once again for the city to increase the speed on Newhall Avenue to 50 mph and if that is not done then I will use this letter as my defense shall I get another speeding ticket on that road. You have been notified and the judge will hear my evidence at my trial for another citation should that happen again. 

William Gerlach


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