Zoom, Zoom: Transportation Bills to Watch in 2013
February 22 marked the headline for state bills to be introduced, and brought with it a slew of new bills for the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) to watch.
More than 2,200 bills were introduced, with about 600 of interest to VICA. Some are particularly innovative – representative of the 39 freshman assemblymembers that took office this year. Others are potential hazardous to our fragile economy – as Democratic supermajorities in the Assembly and Senate make it easier for our elected officials to pass legislation.
Over the next few weeks, the Legislative Action Network will feature a series on hot bills to watch this year.
Here are five bills by some of our local assemblymembers that could alter the way that state transportation systems operate:
AB 405 (Gatto) – HOV Lanes on The 134
The 134 is the main connector from the San Fernando Valley to the San Gabriel Valley and points east through connections to The 101, The 170, The 5 and The 710. A high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane currently operates on The 134 in both directions. These HOV lanes are traditionally under-utilized even as other lanes are backed up for miles.
This bill would allow all vehicles to utilize these HOV lanes between the 170/101 interchange and the 5 interchange during non-rush hour times.
AB 574 (Lowenthal) – Local control of freeways
California freeways are notoriously under-maintained, particularly in the Los Angeles region. The San Fernando Valley is divided by two of the most trafficked freeways in the county, The 101 and The 405. Yet, due to limited resources at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), our freeways continue to fall into disrepair with limited hope of relief anytime soon.
This bill would allow a city or county to form an agreement with Caltrans to take over control of a portion of a freeway. This will allow for local agencies to more expeditiously renovate the freeway segments that directly impact their residents.
AB 179 (Bocanegra) – Toll users and transit riders’ personal information
The right to privacy has become a central concern with the rise of technology, including the digitization of transit use and toll payment. Transit riders and toll road users are now able—and often required—to use their debit or credit card to purchase an electronic payment card or electronic toll transmitter. Some agencies have even rolled out credit cards that are integrated with these transportation passes.
This bill would require transportation agencies that obtain personally identifiable information from electronic toll or transit fare collection systems to discard that information within six months.
AB 61 (Gatto) – Parking at broken meters
The City of Los Angeles is well-known for limited parking availability and rampant malfunctioning parking meters. Last year, the City Council put into an ordinance that prohibits parking in spaces regulated by a broken parking meter or payment center. This ordinance thereby allows for parking enforcement officers to issue $67 tickets to cars parked in these spaces.
This bill would prohibit such an ordinance, and allow vehicles to park in these spaces within normal posted time limits (1-hour, 2-hour, etc.). The bill’s intent is to encourage cities to either fix their broken meters or remove this blight.
AB 204 (Wilk) – Registration fee for green vehicles to fund roadway maintenance
Repair and renovation of our roadways are funded predominately through the imposition of a gasoline tax. As of July 1, that tax will rise by 3.5 cents for a total of 39.5 cents per gallon.
“Green vehicles,” including partially or fully electric vehicles, pay a significantly lower amount of gasoline taxes on average than gasoline-only vehicles, due to their high efficiency engines. Yet, these vehicles cause comparable wear to our roadways.
This bill would impose an additional fee upon annual registration of green vehicles to subsidize their use of California roadways as an alternative to their reduced gasoline tax payments.
For more information about this legislation and other transportation projects affecting you as a San Fernando Valley stakeholder, click here to receive notices about VICA’s Transportation Committee.