11:15am | Following days of public criticism, State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D – Long Beach) says that the intentions of his bill examining free parking were misinterpreted by news outlets.
“Were being hammered as anti-business when this was sponsored by the business community,” Lowenthal told the LBPOST.com on Monday afternoon. “There was no business opposition to this bill until it came out in the LA Times.”
The bill in question – SB 518 (click here to download and read it) – is not meant to simply discourage cities from providing free parking, but encourages cities and counties to examine new ways to look at free parking. Lowenthal says that one of the driving forces behind the bill was AB 32, commonly known as The Global Warming Act, which requires the state of California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.
Lowenthal views the bill as a tool to encourage cities and counties to examine ways to manage their parking in order to meet regulations that they will be forced to adhere to by 2020. The bill, Lowenthal says, seeks to reduce regulatory oversight, and allow cities and counties – as well as businesses – to make their own decisions.
“We can either mandate that everybody do something, or we can go to some kind of market-based solution,” Lowenthal said on Monday. “Maybe because we have these [AB32] regulations we should give cities more flexibility in meeting those regulations.”
The idea that SB 518 seeks to eliminate free public parking is a misconception, Lowenthal says.
“I’d be upset too if they said the State is mandating you, and it’s coming to your town tomorrow. Tomorrow you’re going to get a bill for how many times you went to the grocery store,” he said, laughing at the absurdity of that theoretical situation.
Lowenthal reiterated his point that free parking is free only to the person parking, where the costs of parking lot construction and maintenance are passed on in the form of higher prices for goods and lower wages for employees. He said that reducing free parking will reduce “vehicle miles” and therefore cut greenhouse gas emissions and meet AB32 regulations that will come into play in 2020.
The text in SB 518 includes a points system that awards cities and counties for taking measures to reduce their vehicle miles. Businesses will also be able to earn points, or credits, and when 2020 comes and AB32 regulations are being enforced, cities or businesses that have received credits will be recognized for taking preemptive steps. He said that more will be known about the credit process if a cap and trade is put in place for AB32.
Until then, Lowenthal is optimistic that SB 518 will achieve its original goal: to simply encourage discussion and provide cities and businesses with voluntary options before AB32 mandates that they meet environmental regulations in 2020.
“Its up to them and we mandate nothing,” he said. “If we can do that voluntarily, then everybody benefits.”
Previous coverage: 01/29/10 - Senator Lowenthal's Anti-Free Parking Bill