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During a recent visit to a restaurant in Agoura Hills, California this newly labeled parking space (see photo) caught our attention. Not the same as noticing an attractive person but that’s what you see when you are a seasoned building inspector and construction consultant. Painted in very large letters it read “LOW EMISSION.” Though improperly marked (In accordance with California Green Code Sect. 220.127.116.11.1 it should have been painted “CLEAN AIR/VANPOOL/EV.”) its intended compliance was evident if a bit confusing. This newly marked space became a puzzlement not only to this writer but also to the SUV driver who just entered the parking lot and with a quizzical expression on his face rolled down his window to ask, “Can I park here?” Spaces specially marked for disabled access are well known to the public and to the police. Large dollar citations are written to anyone who does not qualify to park in such ADA designated spots. It’s time for this recently invoked low emissions code to become equally familiar to drivers, police, building contractors and property owners ahead of enhanced enforcement.
Is the effect of this new code the same as parking in a “Compact” space even though you are driving a behemoth SUV? We’ll not advise on that question and leave it for you to decide. However, as if there are not enough rules, codes and regulations for developers, property owners and lawyers on both sides of the equation to consider, you do need to know yet another has been added: Section 18.104.22.168 of the California Green Code.
In short, this relatively new code requires that spaces be reserved for fuel efficient vehicles. Specifically, the code requires that “in new projects or additions or alterations that add 10 or more vehicular parking spaces, provide designated parking for any combination of low-emitting, fuel-efficient and carpool/van pool vehicles” in accordance with the ratios listed below.
Table 22.214.171.124 specifies the following:
Total Number of Parking Spaces
201 and over
Number of Required Spaces
At least 8% of total
Though Section 126.96.36.199.1 does not name which vehicles qualify as a “low-emitting, fuel-efficient,” under Section 188.8.131.52.1 we get a glimpse of what may qualify as a “low-emitting, fuel-efficient” vehicle. It states “Note: Vehicles bearing Clean Air Vehicle stickers from expired HOV lane programs may be considered eligible for designated parking spaces.” Best bet: Visit the California Air Resources Board (ARB) website or call ARB’s toll free number at 1-800-242-4450 to determine eligibility.
Green Clean Air Vehicle decals were originally available to the first 40,000 applicants that purchased or leased cars meeting California’s transitional zero emission vehicles (TZEV) requirement, also known as the enhanced advanced technology partial zero emission vehicle (AT PZEV)* requirement. Per SB 286, the expiration date for the green decals has been extended to January 1, 2019. Per budget trailer bill, SB 853 (Statutes 2014, chapter 27), the green decal limit was increased by 15,000 to 55,000 decals effective July 1, 2014. Now, per AB 2013, effective January 1, 2015, an additional 15,000 decals will be available for a new maximum of 70,000.
As of September 23, 2014, the department has issued the 55,000 maximum green CAV decals allowed by law. Assembly Bill 2013, effective January 1, 2015, authorizes DMV to issue an additional 15,000 green CAV decals, for a new maximum of 70,000. Applications for green CAV decals will continue to be accepted at this time, however, decals cannot be issued until after January 1, 2015.
From now on, in addition to ADA spaces, for commercial properties, architects, designers and contractors need to contemplate the chart above and indicate the appropriate number of Green Code parking spaces on building plans that add 10 or more new spaces. Let us know how often and where you spy Green Code parking signs. Send a picture to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Now you won’t be alarmed if we call into question the availability of these spaces on one of the commercial building inspector or construction consultant projects we perform for you. We all need to know.
About the Author:
Gidon R. Vardi, Ph.D is a court qualified expert witness who testifies throughout California and has an established court testimony record in both Superior and Federal courts in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Ventura County Superior Court, Orange County Superior Court, San Diego County Superior Court, San Francisco County Superior Court, San Bernardino County Superior Court, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, Riverside County Superior Court, Sacramento County Superior Court, U.S. Federal District Court – San Francisco, and U.S. Federal District Court – Los Angeles.