Home » Public Works » Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

ADA Curb Ramps

  • What is the ADA Curb Ramp Program?

    The City of Long Beach has a mandate under the law and an ADA Settlement Agreement to provide accessibility throughout the City to the greatest extent feasible. It is essential that all City stakeholders recognize the importance of these obligations; failure to meet the settlement requirements could lead to further litigation and financial penalties.

  • What is ADA?

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life to make sure they have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. To learn more about the City's ongoing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) efforts, including details on our Curb Ramp Program, visit the City Manager's ADA Page.

  • Where are curb ramps required?

    Generally, curb ramps are needed wherever a sidewalk crosses a curb. Curb ramps must be located to ensure a person with a mobility disability can travel from a sidewalk on one side of the street, over or through any curbs, to the sidewalk on the other side of the street.

  • Why is a particular location chosen for a curb ramp?

    The City’s ADA Team must consider many factors to determine the best suited location to place a curb ramp. Factors considered include: existence of sidewalk, safety, adjacency to government buildings, parks, schools, healthcare and other high pedestrian traffic facilities; high vehicle traffic or speeds; sight distance, roadway width, parking, nearby alternative routes, and physical impediments (i.e. utilities, drainage, mature trees, bus pads, driveways, etc.

  • Why is the curb painted red at intersections?

    Section 10.22.060 of the Long Beach Municipal Code prohibits parking within 20’ of the approach to an intersection and 10’ from the departure of an intersection to maintain adequate clearances and sight distance for safety.

  • Is a driveway considered a pedestrian access point?

    No, because it creates a potential safety conflict between pedestrians and vehicles and does not meet the legal standards and requirements of a curb ramp.

  • Why is parking and existing parkway improvements displaced?

    Parking impacts and displacement of existing parkway improvements are a consideration of the City’s ADA Team in determining the best suited location for placement of a curb ramp. Although the ADA Team will strive to minimize such impacts, in many cases, it is unavoidable in order to comply with the law in providing access equality.

Coastal Tree Maintenance Program

  • What is the Coastal Tree Maintenance Program?

    The City of Long Beach aims to preserve and protect the health of our urban forest and is committed to ensuring that all tree maintenance activities are conducted in an environmentally friendly manner. This includes abiding by Federal and State laws that protect coastal zone trees and their habitats, such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), California Coastal Act, and the California Fish and Game Code. These regulations are in place to give sanctuary to native birds and other wildlife and deems it unlawful to remove or tamper with any migratory birds or their nesting habitats. The City's Tree Maintenance Policy provides guidelines for maintaining the City's urban forest.

  • When is nesting season?

    In Southern California, bird nesting typically occurs between January and September. To avoid disturbance to nesting habitats, all non-emergency tree maintenance within the Coastal Zone may only take place between October 1 and December 31. Tree maintenance includes tree trimming and removal. These restrictions are applicable to any non-emergency tree maintenance conducted by City staff, contractors, residents, businesses, or other vendors whether on public or private property.

  • What are the Coastal Tree Maintenance Guidelines and do they apply to me?

    If it is within the nesting season (January– September) and emergency coastal tree maintenance is required to address a health or safety concern, an emergency permit application must be approved. If approved, a tree nesting survey must be conducted at least one week in advance of tree work by a qualified biologist. If nesting activity is identified, specific guidelines must be followed.

  • Are there replanting requirements after tree removal?

    If a tree is removed in the coastal zone that supports nesting, a 2:1 tree replacement policy is required. Replacement trees must meet specific criteria and a planting permit is required. The trees must also be listed on the Public Works Approved Trees List (bit.ly/lbtreelist).

  • How do I conduct coastal tree maintenance work?

    • All non-emergency coastal tree maintenance, on private and public property, must occur between October 1 and December 31.

    • Tree work requires an inspection by a qualified arborist prior to the start of work.

    • Tree maintenance work shall be performed by a professional possessing the ability to follow the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards which are performance standards put in place for the care and maintenance of trees.

    • Hire a qualified professional who is knowledgable of the requirements in the Coastal Zone.


  • What are the proper trimming practices?

    While performing approved tree maintenance work, the scheduled trimmer (whom may be City staff or contractors, such as property owner or manager, and utility related projects) must follow the ANSI standards:

    • Make clean and precise tree branch cuts, focusing on removing branches close to the trunk.

    • Leave healthy palm fronds above horizontal and remove the dead frond base.

    • Never use climbing spikes or other equipment that can damage the tree.

  • Where can I see the Coastal Zone Map?

    The Coastal Zone Map can be viewed at longbeach.gov/lbcd/planning/advance/maps.

Preferential Parking Districts

  • What are preferential parking districts?

    The Long Beach Municipal Code Section 10.32 allows establishment of Preferential Parking Districts to alleviate certain parking problems in residential areas. These districts limit the length of time vehicles may be parked on-street, unless a valid residential permit is displayed.

  • What are the steps to establish a preferential parking district?

    1) If you are interested in establishing a preferential parking district in your neighborhood, you will need to submit the following information:

    • The exact boundaries of the requested parking district (for example, the 1000 block of Main Street both sides from xxx Avenue to yyy Street)
    • The requested time limit for legal parking without a permit (usually one or two hour parking)
    • The requested effective days/hours (standard options are 9am - 6pm, or 9am - 9pm, excluding Sundays and holidays)

    This information is to be submitted in writing to:

    City Traffic Engineer
    411 W. Ocean Blvd, 5th Floor
    Long Beach, CA 90802

    City staff will review your request and survey the affected streets to confirm that more than 75% of available on-street parking is occupied, and more than 50% of the parked vehicles are not registered in the area.

    Conditions where a preferential parking district is not recommended include:

    • The area is not self-contained. Preferential parking cannot be approved if it is likely to relocate a parking problem onto other residential streets.

    • The area is too small. We are unable to recommend establishing a parking district that does not include entire blocks or less than ten properties.

    • The area contains apartments or condominium units, indicating that resident parking demand exceeds available on-street parking.

    • The area’s zoning allows non-residential uses, indicating that preferential parking would negatively impact legitimate business use.

    If the request meets these general conditions, staff will prepare and send petition forms for you to circulate.

    2) Once our office has sent you the required forms, circulate the petition among properties within the requested district.

    You must obtain signatures verifying support for a preferential parking district from at least two-thirds of the residents of all units of occupancy within the proposed district.

    3) Prepare a set of pre-addressed mailing labels including all properties (residents, property owners and commercial tenants) within 400 feet of the proposed district boundaries, and submit to our office along with the completed petitions.

    The City Clerk will use the mailing labels to notify all affected properties of a public hearing for the City Council to consider establishing a district. Costs may be involved with preparing the mailing labels, if you require consultant assistance to identify property owners.

    4) Be prepared to testify at a City Council meeting in support of establishing the district.

    The City Council will consider any testimony for or against a preferential parking district presented at the public hearing. If approved, an Ordinance will be adopted to establish the district. The Ordinance becomes effective approximately 45 days after the public hearing.

    A non-refundable deposit (view amount at longbeach.gov/feesandcharges) is required to perform a parking study and process necessary resident petitions for City Council consideration. If the district is approved, signs will be installed approximately one every three properties (each cost available at longbeach.gov/feesandcharges).

  • What if the proposed preferential parking district is in the coastal zone?

    If the proposed district falls within the Coastal Zone, an additional Coastal Development Permit is required through the Community Development Department Planning and Building Bureau. The current application fee can be viewed at longbeach.gov/feesandcharges, and is the responsibility of the requestor(s). For current information regarding this matter, please contact the Community Development Department Planning and Building Bureau at (562) 570-6194 or visit longbeach.gov/feesandcharges.

  • Once the preferential parking district is established, how do I obtain a parking permit?

    Once a preferential parking district is established, residents must complete an application to request parking permits. Applications can be obtained at the Parking Citation Counter in the Lobby of City Hall, or by visiting longbeach.gov/parking. To have an application mailed to you, please call (562) 570-6822.

    Residents will be asked to provide proof of current residency, such as a valid driver license or utility bill, and a copy of current vehicle registration. The current fee for an annual permit is can be viewed at longbeach.gov/feesandcharges and applies for each vehicle, with a maximum of 3 permits per household and one guest permit.

    Temporary guest permits valid for up to seven consecutive days from issuance are available free of charge from the Parking Citation counter in the Lobby of City Hall, or by visiting longbeach.gov/parking.

    Permits must be renewed annually and may be renewed by mail.

Speed Limits

  • How are speed limits determined?

    The primary legal justification for vehicle code enforcement in California is the California Vehicle Code (CVC). All cities base their speed regulations on the Basic Speed Law: “No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property”.

    Local authorities establish speed limits within set guidelines on the basis of engineering and traffic surveys. Such surveys must include an analysis of roadway conditions, collision records and a sampling of the prevailing speed of traffic.

    The method of setting speed limits begins with a survey of the speeds at which motorists travel. The speed limit must be set at the first five-mile per hour increment below the 85th percentile speed. That is defined as the speed at or below which 85 percent of the traffic is moving.

  • Why are some speed signs yellow?

    Regulatory signs have black text on a white background and are signs that everyone must obey or be cited. Warning signs have black text on a yellow background. These signs warn motorists about road conditions like sharp turns, tunnels, intersections, and exit ramps.

  • Will lowering speed limits reduce speeding?

    Although many people believe that simply lowering the speed limit is an easy way to stop speeding, it doesn’t always work. Studies show that even when speed limits are lowered, people still drive at speeds that they believe to be reasonable and safe. When that happens, the road could become unsafe because some motorists follow the posted speed limit, and others drive at the speed they believe is best.

  • How can speeds be lowered in my neighborhood?

    Most complaints about speeding come from residential neighborhoods. If speeding is a problem in your area, contact the Police Department to have officers patrol the area. If that doesn’t work, contact the city about “traffic calming measures”.

    Traffic Calming is a term used to describe methods for slowing down traffic. Some examples include: building a traffic circle, adding a median or extending the curbs into the street. See the Traffic Calming FAQs for more information.

  • Where can I find more information about speed limits?

    For information on how the speed limits are set in the State of California, visit dot.ca.gov and type “speed limits” in the search box to find the California Manual for Setting Speed Limits.

    For more information on laws and rules of the road regarding speed limits, visit dmv.ca.gov and review the California Driver Handbook.

    Speed limits are enforced by the Long Beach Police Department. If you have an enforcement question or request, please contact the Patrol Bureau – Traffic at (562) 570-7209.

Stop Signs

  • What is a stop sign for?

    A stop sign is a red, eight sided (octagon shape) sign with white letters that conveys to motorists to come to a full stop at the limit line (a wide white line painted on the street) or before entering the crosswalk at an intersection. Stop signs are placed on the right side of the street in the direction of travel, and sometimes in the middle of the street, so motorists can see them easily.

    Stop signs make intersections safer by slowing down motorists and stopping them for a few seconds. This provides motorists with time to check the intersection in all directions to be sure if it is safe to proceed.

    Like traffic signals, stop signs help motorists decide who has the right-of-way to go through the intersection first.

  • Where is a stop sign used?

    • An intersection where motorists cannot easily see to the right or left because of walls, bushes, and other physical obstructions.

    • There are few gaps in traffic or a lot of accidents at the intersection.

    • A large number of pedestrians walk across the intersection, a lot of motorists turn left at the intersection, but traffic is not heavy enough for a traffic signal.

    • Stop signs should not be used for traffic calming purposes.

  • What other signs are used with stop signs?

    In some places, a second sign might be below the stop sign; for example, an “ALL WAY” sign or a “CROSS TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP” sign. These signs let motorists know what kind of intersection it is. The ALL WAY sign lets you know that there is a stop sign on all directions. The CROSS TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP sign means that the traffic going left-toright and right-to-left does not have a stop sign, so motorists have to be more careful when entering the intersection.
    All Way Sign Image  Cross Traffic Does Not Stop Sign Image

    When a Stop sign cannot be seen easily because of curves in the street or hills, a “STOP AHEAD” sign is often placed in advance of the intersection to warn motorists that a stop is coming up. In addition, there are pavement markers to warn motorists before approaching the stop sign.

    Stop signs might also have a flashing red light on top so that motorists can easily see where it is.

  • Will stop signs slow down traffic on our streets?

    Many people think stop signs help slow down speeders, but this is not true. Motorists often accelerate quickly after stopping to make up for the time they lost by stopping. If traffic at the intersection is always light, motorists do a “rolling stop” (they slow down but don’t come to a complete stop) because they think it is safe or they are in a hurry.

    There are “traffic calming measures” that help lower traffic speeds (stop signs are not one of them). Traffic calming means making changes to a road’s design features such as changing the painted markings, extending curbs into the street (bulb-outs), building a traffic circle, or adding a median. See the Traffic Calming pamphlet for more information.

  • What if a stop sign is blocked by something?

    If you see a stop sign that is blocked by a tree, a bush, or is painted with graffiti, please report it to the City immediately. Call the number on the back of this pamphlet, or use the “GO Long Beach” app. Be sure to include the cross streets, explain what is blocking the stop sign, and your name.

  • Where can I find more information on stop signs?

    For information on how the speed limits are set in the State of California, visit dot.ca.gov and type “MUTCD” in the search box to find the California California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

    For more information on laws and rules of the road regarding speed limits, visit dmv.ca.gov and review the California Driver Handbook.

    Traffic violations are enforced by the Long Beach Police Department. If you have an enforcement question or request, please contact the Patrol Bureau – Traffic at (562) 570-7209.

Traffic Calming

  • What is traffic calming? What are ways to control speed?

    California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) references three types of treatments to control speed of traffic:

    • Vertical Measures that use forces of acceleration to discourage speeding
      • Ex) Speed Tables and Speed Cushions
    • Horizontal Measures that force drivers to reduce speeds by impeding straight through movements
      • Ex) Chicanes, Chokers, Chicanes and Traffic Circles
    • Road Narrowing that elicits a psychological sense of enclosure to discourage speed
      • Ex) Median Islands, Curb Extensions

    Implementing the above mentioned measures to lower the speed of travel on the roadways is known as Traffic Calming.

  • Where can traffic calming measures be implemented?

    City streets where the 85th percentile speed of vehicles is 10 mph higher than the speed limit, can have potential for traffic calming. The 85th percentile speed is defined as the speed at or below which 85 percent of the traffic is moving. Traffic Calming projects can be initiated based on requests that are received from city residents or by the City of Long Beach Traffic Engineering Division. If regular efforts of speed enforcement and neighborhood education is found unsuccessful, different measures of Traffic Calming may be selected for implementation.

  • What are the pros and cons of vertical measures?

    Speed Humps:

    • Pros: Reduces vehicle speed, can reduce traffic volumes, does not require parking removal.

    • Cons: May re-direct traffic to other streets, requires additional signage and striping, increases noise, may delay emergency vehicles, may cause street sweeping issues.

    Speed Tables:

    • Pros: Reduces speed, can reduce traffic volumes, preferred by larger vehicles.

    • Cons: May re-direct traffic to other streets, requires additional signage and striping, increases noise, may lose street parking, may cause street sweeping and drainage issues.

    Speed Cushions:
    • Pros: Reduces vehicle speeds, can reduce traffic volumes, preferred by larger vehicles, easy to install, may be removed and reinstalled, emergency vehicles can go by without delay.

    • Cons: May re-direct traffic to other streets, requires additional signage and striping, increases noise, may result in street sweeping issues.

  • What are the pros and cons of horizontal measures?


    • Pros: Reduces vehicle speed, can reduce pedestrian crossing distance.

    • Cons: May re-direct traffic to other streets, requires additional signage and striping, may cause street sweeping and drainage issues, may require parking removal.


    • Pros: Reduces speed, can reduce traffic volumes, can be visually pleasant.

    • Cons: May re-direct traffic to other streets, requires additional signage and striping, requires parking removal, may cause street sweeping and drainage issues.

    Traffic Circles:
    • Pros: Reduces speed, can reduce traffic volumes, can be visually pleasant.

    • Cons: Can cause issues with right-of-way definition for some drivers, may impede emergency response.

  • Why aren't there more traffic calming projects?

    The extent of the problem and the need for traffic calming should be investigated. Often times, there are more efficient ways of reducing speeds in residential or business places. History also shows that installation of these speed control elements can result in complaints of noise, vehicle damage and re-directing traffic to other streets. The City of Long Beach is committed to providing its citizens with the safest and most efficient transportation system possible. Installing these devices can be cost prohibitive compared to other methods of reducing vehicle speeds. Vertical and horizontal speed control elements can increase emergency response times.

Traffic Signals

  • Why do we have traffic signals?

    Traffic signals regulate traffic by alternating the right-of-way to vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians that are going in different directions through an intersection. Traffic signals that are properly designed, located, operated, and maintained have some or all of the following advantages:

    • Improves the safety and efficiency of both pedestrian and vehicular traffic

    • Increase the traffic handling capacity of an intersection

    • Lower the number of collisions, especially broadside crashes

    • If coordinated, they allow traffic going one direction to travel almost without stopping

    • Interrupt heavy traffic so motorists on side streets can cross the road

  • How much do traffic signals cost?

    Traffic signals cost a lot more than most people think. First, the engineering and traffic study, plus all the field work, needs to be done. Next, a design plan needs to be created. The cost of the traffic signal and installation alone is $200,000 to $300,000, depending on how complicated it is. Then electrical power must be provided to the traffic signal 24 hours a day, and it must be routinely serviced to make sure it operates correctly.

  • How does the City know where to put a traffic signal?

    First, the City does an engineering and traffic study to see if certain conditions, or “warrants” are met. Warrants that are used to decide if a traffic signal is needed include:

    • The amount of traffic that goes through the intersection
    • The number of pedestrians that cross the street
    • The locations of nearby schools
    • Coordinated traffic signal network
    • The number of collisions that have happened at the intersection
    • The speed limit

    After the study is done, the City then looks at the area around the intersection and asks questions like:

    • Is the intersection on a curve or hill?
    • Are there going to be more homes, stores, or businesses built nearby?
    • Will there be less of one kind of collision but more of another kind if a traffic signal is installed (for example, will there be less broadsides but more rear end crashes)?
    • Do a lot of motorists speed through the intersection?

    After gathering all that data, and conducting a thorough investigation & analysis, installation of a traffic signal can be justified.

  • Why can't the green and yellow lights be longer?

    Durations of green and yellow lights are determined by considering the type and location of intersections, speed limit of the roads, motorists behavior and volumes of turning movements at the intersections. Optimized and most effective durations are then calculated for the green and yellow lights based on national and state standards and guidelines to assure safe and smooth operation of the intersections.

  • Shouldn't there be traffic signals everywhere?

    Many people think traffic signals can solve all traffic problems. A thorough evaluation is done before installing a traffic signal. Unjustified traffic signals pose a lot of problems. These extra traffic signals can make traffic worse since they:

    • Increase the time it takes to drive that road

    • Increase the traffic on side streets as motorists try to avoid the signals

    • Increase the number of red light runners

    • Increase the number of rear-end collisions

  • Where can I find more information about traffic signals?

    For more information on traffic signals, visit dot.ca.gov and type "MUTCD" in the search box to find the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

    For more information on laws and rules of the road regarding traffic signals, visit dmv.ca.gov and review the California Driver Handbook.

    Traffic violations are enforced by the Long Beach Police Department. If you have an enforcement question or request, please contact the Patrol Bureau – Traffic at (562) 570-7209.

Wireless Telecommunication Facilities/Small Cell Sites

  • What are Wireless Telecommunication Facilities/Small Cell?

    As the demand for high-speed wireless networks continues to increase, wireless carriers are working to modernize their networks by installing small cell sites. Cell sites use radio frequencies to connect our technology devices to a wireless network. Small cells exist to serve areas with inadequate wireless infrastructure and in our community with high technology usage. For more information, please visit longbeach.gov/smallcells.

    Small cells are compact wireless access points that enhance data capacity in highly-populated neighborhoods, schools, and medical facilities in our community. Small cells are connected by fiber optics and are discreetly placed on existing infrastructure in the public right-of-way, allowing for strong signals to our devices.

  • Who regulates and maintains small cell sites?

    Wireless networks are a part of a national infrastructure that is regulated by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to make data capacity readily available. The City relies on the FCC to regulate wireless network coverage in assuring that wireless providers remain in compliance with federal and state laws.

    The City is not responsible for maintaining or funding small cells as this utility service is provided by network carriers to provide better data capacity citywide. In addition, the City Council approved LBMC 15.34 consisting of rules and guidelines regulating the establishment and operation of wireless service facilities within the public right-of-way.

  • Does the City fund small cell installation?

    Small cells are not City funded utilities. Small cell sites are installed by utility providers and permitted by the Long Beach Public Works Department.

  • Is there a process to appeal?

    Sites within planning protected locations as defined by LBMC 15.34 can be appealed. Once a wireless carrier mails and posts a written notice at the proposed installation site, any person owning property or residing adjacent to or directly across the street from the proposed installation may submit an appeal. 

    Appellants must submit a written appeal and a monetary fee of $106.20 to the City Clerk’s office within 10 business days from the date the notice was mailed and posted. If an appeal and fee are timely submitted, a public hearing date will be set for the appeal and distributed to the wireless carrier and appellant. The hearing officer shall issue a written resolution containing the determination within 14 business days following the close of evidence of the public hearing on the appeal. The resolution will include a summary of the evidence and ultimate determination whether to grant, grant with modifications, or deny the appeal.

  • What are the aesthetic guidelines?

    The Department of Public Works prefers the installation of small cell equipment to be on existing public right-of-way infrastructure, such as street lights. Installation sites may not be in a center median, obstruct vehicular traffic, or require the removal of a parkway tree. In addition to the City’s aesthetic guidelines (LBMC 15.34), an independent study shall be performed to ensure that the installation site satisfies the Public Health Compliance Standard.