Hobbs News Sun

How fast is too fast? Eunice eyes residential ‘speeding’

How fast is too fast? Eunice eyes residential ‘speeding’

EUNICE — From zero to 35 mph to zero between stop signs in one residential block might be legal, but apparently not for long.

Eunice City Council members, hearing complaints about “speeding” received Police Chief Jimmie Jones’ report Tuesday and agreed they need to change the law.

“The current speed limits in the City of Eunice are 35 miles per hour unless otherwise posted,” Jones said. “The reality of the matter is, on the majority of our streets, it’s not posted so it’s 35 miles per hour.”

That shocked Mayor Billy Hobbs who said he had thought the speed limit was 30 mph. “Since you told us it’s 35, I would definitely want to slow it down in residential areas because there’s too many kids out there playing,” Hobbs said.

By comparison, Hobbs Deputy Police Chief Brian Dunlap said the speed limit in Hobbs, unless otherwise posted, is 30 mph. The city has no specific residential zoning.

Jones offered two possible solutions to the Eunice City Council, the second of which likely will be used sparingly.

“This will be something for you guys to decide — we’ll enforce whatever you decide— but if the goal is to slow people down, then I think, one, changing our speed limits on residential streets is a good idea,” he said. “Two, … why not make four-way stops in all residential areas?”

Councilor Mary Lou Vinton quickly responded, “I hate four-way stops.”

“I know you do,” Jones said amid council members’ general laughter, returning to the speed limit question.

“As it is right now, you’ve got people going zero to 35 in a block and slamming on their brakes at the next stop sign. To me that’s much more dangerous than somebody rolling through a stop sign at five mph,” he said. “But the way the law is written, what we should do is go and write everybody that’s rolling through stop signs a ticket and those guys going zero to 35 get a thumbs up because they’re good.”

He emphasized the council should make a decision and the police department would enforce whatever is decided.

“As a police department, we’ll enforce what you want us to enforce, but right now the way the speed limit is, most of the (drivers) that people are complaining about are not speeding,” he concluded.

Vinson noted, “35 to some people is really fast. To other people, it’s really slow. It’s just a matter of who you’re dealing with at the time.”

Hobbs received nodded heads when he asked the council if they generally agreed to reducing the speed limit to 25 mph in residential areas. Since the topic was for discussion only, no vote was taken.

Following a lengthy discussion, City Manager Marty Moore explained to the council the process for fixing the situation.

“The procedure is to get together a draft ordinance, do a first read, cuss and discuss it and take a look at where you’re talking about, throw a map up on the screen so you can see it and take it from there,” he said.

Noting that the Eunice Youth Advisory Council also has been evaluating traffic issues, Moore committed to bringing an ordinance amending the current law, with recommendations from the youth and the police department, to the first city council meeting in June.

In other business Tuesday, the city council accepted a memorandum of understanding between the Eunice Fire and Rescue and Waste Control Specialists LLC, amended the city’s golf course fees structure, approved an interim budget for next fiscal year and tabled a request for a property zoning variance.