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Posts from the "Governor Jerry Brown" Category

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SF Transit, Street Improvements Could Get a Boost From Vehicle License Fee

San Francisco may be on course to receive significant new revenue for transit and street improvements in the coming years following the passage of SB 1492, which specifically permits the city to vote on restoring its local vehicle license fee to historic levels.

Photo: Aaron Bialick

The legislation, which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown earlier this month, clears the way for the SF Board of Supervisors to introduce a ballot measure as soon as November 2013 to restore the local VLF to its pre-2004 level of 2 percent of the vehicle’s estimated value, up from the current statewide limit of 0.65 percent set by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The increase, if approved by voters, would bring in about $75 million for various city services, according to the office of State Senator Mark Leno, who introduced the bill.

There’s a very recent precedent for a successful ballot initiative to increase the vehicle registration fee. In 2010, San Francisco voters approved Prop AA, a local registration fee increase of $10 per vehicle, which now brings in $5 million per year. Half of that revenue is required to be used for street re-paving, the other half for pedestrian, transit, and bicycle improvements. As the revenue accumulates, the SF County Transportation Authority is compiling a list of projects to dole out the funds.

The Prop AA increase was permitted under a 2009 Senate bill on the condition that the funds be used specifically for transportation improvements to reduce car congestion, but those strings wouldn’t be attached to the VLF rate increase.

SB 1492 wasn’t the first bid to allow SF to increase the VLF: Since Schwarzenegger reduced the rate in 2004, Senator Leno has introduced six other similar bills, in addition to another one introduced by Senator Leland Yee in 2005. All proposals either died in the legislature or were vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger or Governor Brown. However, the statewide VLF limit was temporarily raised to 1.15 percent from mid-2009 to July 2011 under a bill introduced by Senator Noreen Evans.

A local ballot measure to increase the VLF would require a two-thirds vote by the Board of Supervisors and a simple majority approval by voters.

Streetsblog LA 6 Comments

More News on State Transpo Bills from Governor Brown’s Office

In addition to the mixed news on legislation impacting bicyclists, Governor Brown acted on many other pieces of legislation that will have a direct impact on transportation planning and public safety.

Governor Signs Law Allowing Undocumented Immigrants to Obtain Drivers Licenses

The governor's office released mock-ups of what the licenses for undocumented immigrants would look like. Image via “Today we’re looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow’s reality – the self-driving car,” Brown said. “Anyone who gets inside a car and finds out the car is driving will be a little skittish, but they’ll get over it.” Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2012/09/27/2458227/next-transportation-trend-cars.html#.UGnX1_nHdz0#storylink=cpyCBS Sacramento.

Perhaps the most controversial action the Governor took last week will allow many undocumented immigrants to earn drivers licensesAB 2189, introduced by Asm. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), allows immigrants who qualify for a new federal work permit program and reside in California to apply for drivers licenses. A new federal protocol allows illegal immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16, and who are now 30 or younger, to obtain work permits.

Cedillo, who has introduced legislation that would allow all undocumented workers to earn licenses, points to safety as a major reason why all Californians should support licensing all interested potential drivers.

“This is important first step to making sure our highways are safe for all Californians,” Cedillo writes in an official statement. “I am proud that the governor chose public safety over politics. I look forward to continuing to work with his office to make sure that all motorists in this state are licensed, tested and insured and that California will once again enjoy the safest highways in America that they deserve.”

“Encouraging” High Speed Rail Authority to Shop for Rail Cars in California

As you might have heard, the California High Speed Rail project is somewhat controversial in the state. In an effort to boost job creation and improve the project’s popularity, Brown signed AB 16, authored by Henry Perea (D-Fresno), which “encourages” the Authority to purchase cars for the project that are manufactured in California. One option to meet this “suggestion” would be  Sacramento-based Siemens Rail Systems.

Read more…

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Gov. Brown Denies Cyclists “3,” But Signs Two Bills Boosting Bike Lanes

For the second year in a row, California Governor Jerry Brown issued a last-minute veto of legislation mandating a minimum three-foot distance for motor vehicles to pass cyclists. However, two other bills making it easier for cities to implement bike lanes got the governor’s signature, albeit in watered-down form: AB 2245, which exempts bike lanes from excessive review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and AB 819, which establishes a Caltrans experimentation process for adopting currently non-standard innovative bike lane designs, like physically protected bike lanes.

When Brown vetoed the 3-foot passing bill last year, he argued in a widely panned veto-message that a three foot passing law would damage the “free flow of traffic” and proposed a change that would not address his stated problem. This year, Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) made the changes that the Governor requested to SB 1464, but Brown and his advisors created a new reason to veto the legislation.

If only this car had crossed the double yellow line a little sooner. The image is taken from a story on Confessions of a... where a woman recounts the pain of being hit by a car and the miracle that she could walk away from such a crash.

This year, the Governor’s veto message expressed concern that the state would be liable for any crashes caused by reckless drivers who crossed a “solid yellow” line to give cyclists the three-foot buffer. The veto message also stated that Caltrans proposed a solution to “this issue,” but that Lowenthal’s office refused to make the change. Caltrans did not return calls for comments, and advocates familiar with the legislation professed to have “no idea” what the Governor was referencing.

In the nineteen states that have three foot passing laws and the one that has a four foot passing law, Streetsblog can find no evidence that the kind of lawsuit the Governor fears has ever been successfully prosecuted. The California Bicycle Coalition (CBC) reports that the California Department of Finance, the department responsible for tracking whether legislation opens the state to lawsuits, opined that current law would protect the state from these sorts of lawsuits. The CBC also notes that the language the Governor is concerned with was included in 2011′s three foot passing law, and that neither the Governor nor Caltrans expressed any concerns last year.

Cycling advocates were incensed at the veto.

“It’s pretty clear that the Governor is out of touch with what is happening on our roads,” writes Eric Bruins, the Policy and Program Director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC). “With the distracted driving bill and the 3-foot passing bill, the Legislature is responding to the public’s concerns about traffic safety.  It’s time for the Governor to engage on these issues and protect victims of dangerous and distracted driving.” Streetsblog will have more on the distracted driving bill in a second post, later today.

The California Bicycle Coalition was even harsher.

“Brown has offered no indication of how he views bicycling or expressed any ideas for ensuring the safety of Californians who rely on bicycling as everyday transportation,” writes the Coalition on their website. “By vetoing SB 1464, he makes clear that he prioritizes legalistic speculation over the safety of Californians.”

“We’re deeply concerned about what his lack of vision and leadership means for the safety of our streets and roads.”

Read more…

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Three-Foot Bike Passing Bill Passes CA Assembly, Needs Gov’s Signature

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A driver prepares to pass a bicycle rider on the Wiggle. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The California State Assembly passed a bill yesterday that would require motorists to provide three feet of space when passing bicyclists. SB 1464, which passed with a 50-16 vote, is expected to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September following a “largely procedural” approval by the State Senate, which already passed the bill in May, according to the California Bicycle Coalition.

Thousands of supporters wrote their Assembly members in recent weeks to urge a “yes” vote in a campaign spearheaded by TransForm and the CBC. The bill, according to the CBC, has “none of the organized opposition that fought SB 910,” the 3-foot passing bill that was vetoed by Brown last year. At the time, Brown said he was responding complaints from the California Highway Patrol and the American Automobile Association over a provision that would have required drivers to slow down to 15 MPH to pass if providing three feet was unfeasible. Instead, SB 1464 would require drivers in that situation to “slow down to a speed that is reasonable and prudent given traffic and roadway conditions and only pass when it’s safe to do so.”

The debate in the Assembly yesterday offered a glimpse of certain legislators’ views on cycling.

“This is a common sense approach to safety for bicyclists,” said Assembly Member Steven Bradford, a Democrat who represents the 51st District in Los Angeles. “Where it is unsafe to move over three feet, drivers have the discretion of just slowing down and passing a bicyclist.”

Three Assembly members spoke in opposition to the bill, all Republicans. Assembly Member Diane Harkey, representing the 73rd District in Orange County, eschewed the responsibilities of drivers to watch out for vulnerable street users and said more of the onus should be placed on bicyclists.

The bill, said Harkey, “Allows for lawsuits on motorists who are trying to do the right thing, but for some reason or another, a cyclist comes up behind, maybe in a blind corner, and the cyclist thinks he has the right-of-way and maybe is going full speed ahead, and knows that he’s got the law on his side, however, he may not have the poundage on his side.”

“Just because you have the right-of-way, doesn’t mean that you will survive or live,” added Harkey. “The cycling has gotten a little bit out of control. They are not cars.”

Read more…

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Three-Foot Passing Bill Up for Vote at State Assembly Friday

Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. Photo: Richard Masoner/Flickr

A state bill that would require drivers to give three feet of leeway when passing bicyclists in California is headed to the State Assembly for a vote this Friday.

TransForm and the California Bicycle Coalition are calling on supporters to email their Assembly members and urge them to vote “yes.” If approved by the Assembly, the bill could be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September, bringing California in line with 21 other states and the District of Columbia, which have similar laws.

Support for the bill looks strong. The bill sailed through the State Senate in May, and by yesterday afternoon, supporters had sent at least 1,340 letters to their Assembly members, according to the CBC. The real question remaining is whether the bill will be signed by Governor Brown, who vetoed a previous version of the bill last year.

The new bill was modified to address Brown’s complaints about a provision which would have required drivers to slow down to 15 MPH if they are unable to safely provide three feet of room. Instead, the bill would require drivers in that situation to “slow down to a speed that is reasonable and prudent given traffic and roadway conditions and give the bicyclists as much clearance as feasible.”

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CA Senate Passes 3-Foot Passing Bill. Will Gov Brown Sign It This Time?

Close passes like this one on Market Street would be explicitly illegal under the three-foot passing law, which is already in place in 21 states. Flickr photo: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious

The three-foot passing bill for bicyclists sailed through the California Senate today, reports the California Bicycle Coalition on Twitter:

Senate just voted 27-6 to approve SB 1464. No debate or opposition! 6 Republicans voted YES.

The bill still needs to make its way through the State Assembly, but all signs point to little opposition.

The real question remaining is whether Governor Jerry Brown will veto it again. Brown vetoed the previous version of the proposal, SB 910, last October due to opposition from the California Highway Patrol and the American Automobile Association over hypothetical traffic congestion caused by cars slowing down to pass bicycles.

However, the language in SB 1464 is tailored to address Brown’s concerns, so hopes are high for California to catch up with the 21 other states that have similar laws.

Enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend — we’ll see you back here Tuesday.

Streetsblog LA 8 Comments

Tell Your State Senator to “Give Me 3″ This Thursday

Senate Bill 1464, the three-foot bike passing bill proposed by California Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), heads back to the Senate on Thursday, May 24 after sailing through committee last week. Buoyed by a strong campaign by the California Bike Coalition (CBC) and TransForm, thousands of supporters have already written letters to their senators urging them to pass the bill.

The first Give Me 3 poster on 1st and Main in Los Angeles, 2010. Photo: LADOT Bike Blog

“The community of people who care about the safety of bicyclists continues to be the backbone of support for this bill,” said Jim Brown, spokesperson for the CBC. “Nearly 1,800 people have contacted their state senators to urge a yes vote this Thursday. This is a very large response by any measure, especially for bike-related legislation. It shows how strongly people care about making our roads safer.”

If passed, SB 1464 would require drivers to give cyclists a three foot passing berth when passing them. A nearly identical proposal, SB 910, was vetoed by Governor Brown in October due to pushback from AAA and the CA Highway Patrol (CHP), despite making its way through both houses of the legislature. As reported in Streetsblog  last month, the CBC worked with AAA and the CHP to revise the language they objected to and propose a new bill.

SB 1464 differs from last year’s bill by allowing drivers to cross a solid double yellow centerline (when safe) if necessary to give a bicyclist at least three feet of space. If three feet aren’t available, the bill requires drivers to pass by slowing down to a “reasonable and prudent” speed and giving bicyclists as much space as “feasible.”

The CBC launched the “Give Me 3” campaign to support the bill last year using imagery from Los Angeles’ bike safety campaign in 2010. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told Streetsblog that the passage of a safe passing law in Sacramento is “a top legislative priority” for him.

If the Senate passes SB 1464 on Thursday, it would then head to the State Assembly for approval by the appropriate committees and the full assembly. After that, it’s back to the Governor Brown’s desk, where he could sign it into law or veto it again.

TransForm and the CBC partnered to provide an easy form which supporters can use to write their legislators. By clicking on this link and entering your zip code on TransForm’s website, you can generate an email addressed to your senator. You can also modify the email with a more personal message, which is especially powerful if you know someone who was injured in a crash. If you would prefer to use email or regular mail, click here for instructions from the CBC.

Sample letter. Click here to generate your own.

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Coalition of California Advocates Headed to Sacramento to Save Transit

Members of a broad coalition hailing from throughout California are headed to Sacramento next week to push policymakers to save transit funding and enact sustainable transportation planning reforms.

The Oakland-based transit advocacy group TransForm has amassed about 150 advocates to descend on the capitol for its two-day Transportation Choices Summit, the first known event of its kind, where they will meet with state representatives and urge them to prioritize walking, bicycling, and transit.

TransForm State Policy Director Graham Brownstein said the action came out of the organization’s Invest in Transit campaign, launched last year to address the “very, very serious crisis” facing transit systems in California. The state has made dramatic funding cuts totaling more than $4 billion over the last decade, and TransForm recognized the immediate need for “creative policy reforms that will stabilize, and then grow transit funding in California,” said Brownstein.

The cornerstone of the campaign is a push to ensure that a major portion of the revenue from California’s nascent cap-and-trade program will be dedicated to transit operations and affordable housing projects located near transit.

The cap-and-trade revenue could go a long way toward restoring the damage done to transit funding under the Schwarzenegger administration. By selling emissions permits, Governor Jerry Brown’s administration anticipates the cap-and-trade program will generate $1 billion in the 2012-2013 budget and $10 billion annually by 2020, according to TransForm [PDF].

Brownstein said transit agencies need all the help they can get to avert a much deeper statewide crisis.

Read more…

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Lance Armstrong, L.A.’s Mayor Push Brown on S.B. 910

Lance Armstrong and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at "Hope Rides Again" Cancer Awareness Event in March, 2009. Photo:So Ca. Cycling.com

Bicycling superstar Lance Armstrong and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have joined forces again.  Their target: Governor Jerry Brown.  Their message: sign S.B. 910, the state’s three foot passing law that would protect cyclists from drivers who pass too close and too fast.

“Gov. Brown can help make our roads safer for everyone by making Senate Bill 910 the law in California,” said Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, and the most famous bicyclist in the world.

“I’m thrilled that we have Lance Armstrong’s support on this issue,” added Villaraigosa. “His success is a big reason so many more Californians are interested in bicycling. It’s so important to have experts like him advocating for making California a more bike-friendly place.”

The Senate and Assembly both passed S.B. 910, authored by Long Beach Senator Alan Lowenthal, which would require motorists passing bicyclists to give at least a three foot cushion if the car’s speed is 15 miles per hour. Many Republicans opposed the measure, in large part due to the opposition of speeding traffic advocates, AAA and the California Highway Patrol. Last week, Streetsblog San Francisco reported that those same two groups are lobbying the Governor to veto this traffic safety measure.

Read more…

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Gov. Brown Vetoes Commuter Benefits Act, Cites Cost Argument

Sounding like a spokesperson for the Republican opposition to the bill, Governor Jerry Brown announced a veto last week of SB 582, citing the cost to small businesses. From his veto statement:

While I support the goal of reducing vehicle trips, this bill would impose a new mandate on small business at a time of economic uncertainty.

Governor Brown tosses up an airball. Photo: Office of the Governor via KQED

There’s only one problem with this statement. SB 582 doesn’t require anything of small business without the action of local government bodies known as Municipal Planning Organizations or Air Quality Districts (MPO’s and AQD’s) and the mandate they could require would barely cost businesses anything. A coalition of environmental, transportation reform and public health groups supported the legislation as well as some large employers including Facebook and Genetech.

“We’re disappointed that Governor Brown vetoed this bill, which would have saved money for California employers and employees, while improving our air quality,” writes Rebecca Saltzman, a program associate with the California League of Conservation Voters.

So what would SB 582 have actually done? It would have given MPO’s and AQD’s the ability to require businesses with 20 full-time employees (or in some cases 50 depending the transit options and air quality of the area) to provide commuter benefits to employees who commute to and from work without their car. Despite the Governor’s rhetoric, there was near-cost-free options to meet this requirement.

  • Give employees the option to pay for their transit, vanpooling or bicycling expenses with pre-tax dollars, as currently allowed by federal law;
  • Offer employees a transit or vanpool subsidy up to $75 per month;
  • Provide employees with a free shuttle or vanpool operated by or for the employer.

The first option basically allows employers to deduct up to $75 from employees pay checks and provide them with a separate check for that amount to cover commuting expenses. This allows transit and bike commuters to have a tax-free, or tax reduced fare if their monthly transit ticket is more than $75. Read more…