A new law aimed at increasing pedestrian, cyclist and driver safety by prohibiting cars from parking too close to crosswalks went into effect this year, but parts of Long Beach where parking is already scarce could be made exempt.

The “daylighting” law, which was Introduced by Bay Area Assemblymember Alex Lee last year, aims to improve sight lines for pedestrians trying to cross the street and visibility for drivers traveling through intersections.

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Signed into law in October, the law will bar parking within 20 feet of any marked or unmarked crosswalk or within 15 feet of any crosswalk that has a curb extension. The law went into effect this year, but citations for parking within the buffers from crosswalks aren’t expected to begin until January 2025.

But residents in parking-impacted areas of Long Beach might not have to worry about losing too many of their coveted curb spaces.

During a community meeting Thursday night, Paul Van Dyk, the city’s traffic engineer, assured Belmont Shore residents that the new law would not result in big changes to the area, which is part of the city’s parking impacted zones.

There are four designated parking impacted areas with the largest including most communities south of Burnett Avenue between Downtown and Alamitos Bay. Three smaller zones are located in North Long Beach and West Long Beach.

Van Dyk noted that Long Beach already largely complies with the law because it has added red curbs near intersections for decades. But the law allows local jurisdictions to reduce the 20-foot buffers if established traffic safety standards could allow for vehicles to safely park a shorter distance from crosswalks and the city marks that distance with paint or a sign.

A car is parked at the corner of Division Street and Covina Avenue. Under the state’s new daylighting law, Long Beach could exempt some areas from the 20-foot buffer zone between parking areas and crosswalks. Photo by Jason Ruiz

In late 2021, the city announced it was reducing speeds on Belmont Shore’s residential streets from 25 mph to 15 mph and the area has had curb extension “bulb outs” to shorten the distance for pedestrians cross the street and allow them to see traffic without stepping into traffic.

Van Dyk said both could allow the city to set its own “daylighting” distances in certain areas of the city.

“Our plan is to preserve the existing parking,” he said.

Long Beach announced in September that it was reducing speeds on more than 100 other street segments many of which are within the city’s parking-impacted neighborhoods.

Like the daylighting bill’s intent, the city’s lowering of speed limits is part of an attempt to lower traffic deaths in the city to zero. Long Beach released an update last year to its “Vision Zero” plan, which sought to lower traffic deaths to zero by 2026, but deaths began to spike in 2020 with nearly 200 people dying in traffic incidents in the city between then and 2022.

Preliminary figures show that another 35 people died in traffic incidents in 2023, with many of those deaths recorded by the city being pedestrians.

When Lee introduced the law in February 2023 he cited California’s pedestrian fatality rate, which is 25% higher than the national average. He pointed to the dozens of other states that had already implemented a version of daylighting and said it was a simple way to improve safety for pedestrians.

“Daylighting is a proven way we can make our streets safer for everyone, and 43 other states have already implemented some version of daylighting,” Lee said in a statement when he introduced the bill. “By making it easier for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists to see each other at intersections, we can take a simple and important step to help us all safely share the road.”

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.