Residents in Los Gatos, California, are asking their city officials to fix problems on a dangerous roadway where a young boy was injured. 13-year-old Peter Goodlin was struck and injured by a car while riding his bicycle to school on Aug. 29, 2008. The driver who hit Peter said he did not see the boy because of glare. Residents say that the corner of Kennedy Road and Englewood Street in Los Gatos has remained a dangerous intersection for years. They are asking the city for a three-way stop at the intersection as well as a reduction of the speed limit on Kennedy Road. Our source for this blog is this Los Gatos Weekly-Times article.
Neighbors’ main concern about this dangerous intersection, is the speed of passing vehicles. One long-time resident says he has seen at least a dozen accidents in the time he has lived there. There are several residential streets off of Kennedy Road and schools in the neighborhood. But the news report states the city’s traffic engineers have resisted changing the speed limit on that road due to some conflicts regarding who is responsible for the roadway.
It definitely appears to me that city officials need to do something to restrict speed in this Los Gatos neighborhood. The news report does not say what the current speed limit is on Kennedy Road, but one can infer from the report that it is certainly more than 25 mph.
California Vehicle Code Section 22352 sets speed limits near a school and in residential neighborhoods at 25 mph, until otherwise specified by the governmental agency that has jurisdiction over that roadway.
California Vehicle Code Section 22357 empowers a local authority to set a speed limit on a roadway at higher than 25 mph only if it determines, based on an engineering and traffic survey, that the limit would keep the roadway “reasonable and safe” while preserving a smooth traffic flow. I submit to you that the existing speed limit on Kennedy Road does not make the roadway “reasonable and safe” for children like Peter Goodlin. The question in this case is why city officials have not decreased the speed limit on the roadway or at least installed a three-way stop at the intersection of Kennedy and Englewood.
Under the provisions of California’s Government Code, Section 835, a public entity is liable for injuries caused by a condition of public property when the injured person proves that there was a dangerous condition on the public property at the time of injury and that the injury was caused by that dangerous condition. The injured victim also needs to prove that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury of the kind that occurred. Also, for a condition to be dangerous for purposes of government liability, it must be dangerous when it is used by motorists or others who are exercising due care as opposed to those who are themselves being negligent.
This situation is not much different from what the City of Hanford was faced with a few years ago. Neighbors warned city officials about a dangerous intersection with a history of accidents. Hanford officials did nothing to fix the problem. As a result, our client, 14-year-old Christopher Chan, was hit by a car at that intersection and suffered severe injuries including a debilitating brain injury.
I hope the City of Los Gatos takes the necessary action to correct this dangerous situation on Kennedy Road before more tragedies take place. The options before city officials may seem “too expensive” now, but I hope they will consider this – the city of Hanford settled with Christopher Chan and his family for $5 million. I’m sure if they had a choice, Hanford city officials would have gone back in time and spent whatever it took to make that intersection safe instead of seeing a child suffer a horrific crash and injury. And I’m sure they would have rather made the roadway safer than pay out millions in compensation.