Sometime in 2024, speed camera systems will be placed in 18 locations around the city – and residents will be able to weigh in on where they’ll go.

A state bill that was signed into law last month allows Long Beach and five other cities to install speed cameras on a pilot basis; the goal is to make streets safer by getting drivers to slow down.

The law sets a slew of requirements, including rules for notifying the public, the cost of fines, and criteria for where “speed safety systems,” as officials are calling them, can be placed. (The number of cameras allowed is based on the city’s population.)

The city’s preliminary map of eligible locations shows school zones, areas with a high rate of injury accidents and “hot spots” that have recent complaints about speeding, street takeovers and other hazards.

A map of the city of Long Beach shows spots eligible to get speed cameras under a new pilot program.
Eligible locations for speed cameras in Long Beach include school zones, areas with lots of injury accidents, and spots that get frequent complaints about speeding and other driving hazards. Courtesy of the city of Long Beach.

City traffic officials are working on a report on where cameras will go, why those locations were chosen, and how much the program is expected to cost. They also must draft policies for use of the speed systems, including what data they can collect and how the city will protect it.

The report and list of policies must be made public for 30 days before the City Council can vote to approve them and solicit bids from camera vendors. The public must also be notified at least 30 days before cameras start operating, and the first 60 days they’re in use, violators will get warnings without fines.

When fines are imposed, they’ll range from $50 (for going at least 11 mph over the speed limit) to $500 (driving at least 100 mph). But the citations will be similar to a parking ticket and won’t add points to a driver’s license, city Traffic Engineer Paul Van Dyk told a City Council subcommittee at a Nov. 14 meeting.

“This is not something where we’re trying to catch people like someone on a motorcycle behind a bush with a radar gun,” he said. “This is supposed to be a deterrent.”

Any revenue from citations will be used to cover the costs of the program and for traffic safety improvements.

Once cameras go in, they won’t necessarily stay forever — the city can relocate them in certain circumstances, and it must write a report after five years that evaluates how effective the program has been.

Some city leaders and residents have been calling for action to make city streets safer after a spike in traffic deaths over the past few years. This fall, the city began lowering speed limits on about 100 streets, but some council members are eager to see if putting cameras in the mix will change speeders’ behavior.

“It can’t happen soon enough, in my opinion,” Councilmember Al Austin said at the Nov. 14 meeting. “They’re dangerous, they’re destroying businesses, and more important, they’re hurting people and risking lives.”