exemption for honorific plates and zero emission vehicles

BY CHRISTINA HANFORD

An ordinance exempting from parking meter fees military veterans who display honorific license plates was introduced and unanimously approved at its first reading by the Santa Monica City Council at its meeting Tuesday, March 13th.

Additionally, anyone displaying zero emission vehicle (ZEV) parking decals will be exempt from parking meter fees.

In October, city staff was directed by the council to evaluate any possible revenue implications and then draft the ordinance exempting military veterans displaying honorific license plates. Honorific license plates to be exempted include Congressional Medal of Honor, Legion of Valor, Purple Heart, American Prisoner of War and Pearl Harbor Survivor.

Additionally, the ordinance expanded the definition of “low-emission vehicles” exempt from the requirement of paying parking meter fees to include zero emission vehicles displaying ZEV parking decals.

According to the California Air Resources Board, less than 1,000 zero emission vehicles are registered throughout the state of California.

Armand Assayag, a representative of the Los Angeles County Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, spoke at the meeting to encourage the council to pass the ordinance.

Assayag pointed out that there are 441,387 veterans in Los Angeles County and of these veterans, only seven are Legions of Valor, 90 are Pearl Harbor survivors, 937 are Purple Heart recipients and 133 are prisoners of war — and thus, it would be of little cost to the city, he said.

No expenditures are required to implement this ordinance. A projected revenue loss of approximately $2,000 per year — utilizing very liberal assumptions — is expected, said planning and community development director Eileen Fogarty.

Russell Sydney of the Sustainable Transportation Club also spoke at the meeting in support of the ordinance.

“I just basically want to encourage you to support this, given that the ZEVs [zero emission vehicles] are typically electric vehicles, and electric vehicles not only help us to control the emissions but they are also some of the most energy-efficient vehicles on the road,” he said.

Sydney, who says he gets 400 miles per gallon on his electric scooter, encouraged the council to support the ordinance from an emissions standpoint, but also to support sustainability.

Even though Santa Monica has taken action at the local level to create an ordinance exempting military veterans displaying honorific license plates from parking fees — as have other cities in the state, including nearby Culver City, where an ordinance is already in place — action has also been taken at the state level.

Earlier this year, in January, State Assembly Bill (AB) 138 was introduced into the legislative system by Assemblywoman Karen Bass of the 47th Assembly District. The bill would exempt from parking meter fees veterans displaying honorific license plates including Congressional Medal of Honor, Legion of Valor, Purple Heart, American Prisoner of War and Pearl Harbor Survivor.

“I think it’s a small token of appreciation from a grateful nation to those heroes, men and women, who paid a very high price for keeping America free,” said Culver City resident Neil Rubenstein, who has for the past several years been voluntarily working to try to get this legislation passed all across California.

Of Santa Monica, Rubenstein says, “We’re always excited when we have other cities and communities recognizing the heroes in their community by allowing them to park free at the city parking meters and parking structures.”

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