By Kerry Cavanaugh : latimes – excerpt
For all the talk in California about leading the world on climate change and resisting President Trump’s anti-environment agenda, the state has a third rail of environmental policy. Touch their cars and Californians will revolt.
Any effort that limits, constrains or makes driving one’s car more expensive or inconvenient — no matter how civic-minded the proposal — is immediately controversial in California, and often a nonstarter. Getting between Californians and their cars can spell the end of a political career. Just ask former Gov. Gray Davis, who was recalled in large part because of his decision to triple the vehicle license fee.
Two separate, unrelated efforts launched last week are a reminder of just how difficult it is to make public policy when it involves peoples’ cars.
At the state level, a group calling itself “Reform California” announced that it was launching an initiative drive aimed at repealing the new gas tax and vehicle fee increases. Those increases were approved by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature in April after years of negotiations over how to pay for an estimated $73 billion in deferred road repairs and infrastructure maintenance. The 12-cent-per-gallon increase will take effect Nov. 1.
In Los Angeles, a group of Westside residents have begun a campaign to recall City Councilman Mike Bonin for his support of so-called road diets that have eliminated traffic lanes. Bonin has been one of the council’s most outspoken advocates for Vision Zero, the city’s plan to reduce traffic deaths by slowing traffic speeds. But two projects in his district — one in Playa del Rey and one in Mar Vista — have created a huge backlash, with residents complaining that the road diets have created clogged streets, slower traffic and longer commutes…
But as the Bonin recall campaign and the backlash to road diets in other neighborhoods demonstrate, drivers do not like this change. What does the political pressure on Bonin portend for other elected officials? Are they going to stick by their commitment to a more walkable, bikeable, sustainable city. Or back away from the third rail?…(more)