North Beach speed limit fails

The city of Kenai will not place speed limit signs along an area of North Beach, city council voted at its Wednesday meeting.

 

A resident of the area, Sue Carter, said at a June 5 council meeting that she was concerned about the fast speeds all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles were traveling along the section of the beach. She requested the city post a sign regulating motorists’ speeds.

At its Wednesday meeting, council voted down an ordinance to place 20 mph signs along the section of beach from South Spruce Street to the end of Toyon Way. The speed limit would have been effective from April 1 to Sept. 30.

Council member Brian Gabriel Sr., who voted against ordinance 2704-2013, said the city had already resolved the issue — it placed five or six signs along the beach requesting that motorist limit their speed to 25 miles-per-hour in the roughly half-mile section. Carter said at the June 5 meeting she would be happy with that.

But the ordinance didn’t fail unanimously.

“What’s it going to take?” council member Mike Boyle said. “What’s it going to take before we enforce a speed limit?”

Posting signs that only “suggest” that motorists control their speeds is a poor substitute for “ordinances that make sense,” he said.

More residents use the beach now than did in the past, he said, and fast-moving vehicles are a hazard.

“All it takes is one child being squashed,” he said.

But Vice Mayor Ryan Marquis said if a motorist hit a child, she would have violated a law already in place: off-road vehicles, according to KMC 13.40.020 (c), must drive 10 miles per hour when close to people.

Council member Terry Bookey said motorists are responsible, too; they do not need signs to regulate their speeds.

And, he said, the beach is already overburdened with signage.

“It looks hideous,” Bookey said.

In the past year, the Kenai Police Department received 11 complaints about vehicle traffic on North Beach, according to City Manager Rick Koch’s memo to the council. Ten of the 11 complaints came from Carter. Carter also called Koch, he estimated, about “two-dozen” times.

Koch wrote that in his seven years as city manager, he has received no complaints from individuals who said they felt endangered from fast-moving vehicles on North Beach.

Also, speed limit enforcement on the beach would be difficult, he wrote in his memo. The city could be accused of disregarding its laws if it failed to enforce the beach-side speed limit. And enforcing the speed limit would cost, he estimated, between $20,000 to $40,000 during the months it was effective.

Council will meet July 3 in City Hall, 210 Fidalgo Ave.

Dan Schwartz can be reached at daniel.schwartz@peninsulaclarion.com.

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