In a boost for his traffic initiative and political profile, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley won a key compromise here Wednesday, successfully lobbying to amend a state bill that would have killed his proposed rush-hour truck ban.
With a rare personal appearance before an Assembly committee, Bradley was able to muster enough clout to overcome the powerful state trucking lobby and win an exemption for Los Angeles from proposed state restrictions on how truck traffic can be regulated by cities.
"I think we had a great victory here today," said Bradley after the Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted 10 to 1 to exempt counties with populations of more than 5 million from the proposed state restrictions. Los Angeles County is the only jurisdiction that would meet that criteria.
The bill that came before the Ways and Means Committee would have preempted the city of Los Angeles from regulating truck traffic on its streets. The mayor wants the City Council to ban 70% of all large trucks during morning and afternoon rush hours. The truck ban is a key element--and the last to be adopted--in a traffic-reducing plan launched by Bradley two years ago.
"The city of Los Angles is absolutely protected," said Assemblywoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), who along with Assemblyman Terry Friedman (D-Los Angeles) carried the city's effort in the committee. Under terms of the amendment, Los Angeles, as the largest city in the county, would be able to set a uniform time for the entire county for any eventual truck bans adopted by the 86 individual cities.
"Today they prevailed," Waters said about city officials, indicating that pressure from trucking interests will continue to be great as the bill winds its way through the complicated legislative process.
The amendment, Waters said, was an attempt to compromise with the truckers and their legislative allies.
The truckers say they reached an agreement earlier this year with legislative leaders on a sweeping transportation construction and fuel tax program. Under the agreement, truckers said they would support the new taxes in exchange for guarantees that cities not impose regulations of their own.
"We didn't want to completely dishonor (their commitment), but at the same time, we didn't want to penalize Los Angeles," Waters said.
State Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights), who carried the bill for the truckers, urged the committee to honor the commitment.
But Waters said, "I don't know about any deal. . . . I didn't sign any deal."
After the vote, Campbell said, "I can live with the amendment."
But Campbell said he cannot live with a second, more troubling amendment to be considered by the committee next week. The amendment would give cities the right to impose licensing fees on truckers. Under Los Angeles' proposal, truckers would be required to register with the city, pay a $60 annual permit fee and prove that their vehicles are in safe working order.
Campbell said the fee amendment could kill the bipartisan agreement that led to passage of the highway construction plan and fuel taxes, which in turn would threaten the success of the measure when it comes before the state's voters in June.
"They either get (the fees amendment) out, or it's dead," he said of the ballot measure.
Joel Anderson, a spokesman for the California Truckers Assn., said the Los Angeles exemption adopted Wednesday kills the construction tax agreement.
Los Angeles, Anderson said "is the bellwether problem."
A final position on the bill as it now stands will be taken at a California Truckers Assn. board of directors meeting Sept. 6.
Bradley, who took an early moring flight to the capital, got to the committee hearing and began lobbying legislators in the aisles and hallways as they arrived.
He was greeted by Assemblyman Mike Roos (D-Los Angeles), who chaired the meeting, and he quickly moved on to buttonhole Assemblyman Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles). The two huddled for a few moments in whispered conversation under the glare of television lights, and when Bradley returned to where three aides stood, he said with a smile, "He (Polanco) was undecided until now . . . he said 'You've convinced me, you've got my vote.' "
What made Bradley's appearance even more unusual was the coalition that stood by him, including representatives of the California Manufacturers Assn., the Teamsters Union and the Sierra Club.
Perhaps even more surprising was the presence of City Councilman Nate Holden, who ran a close and bitter campaign for mayor against Bradley earlier this year and who last month moved to oppose Bradley's truck ban in the council.
Holden, chairman of the council's Transportation Committee, joined with Bradley in asking that the Campbell bill be amended.