Sounding the death knell for mandatory ride-sharing programs, Gov. Pete Wilson has signed an Orange County lawmaker's bill that eliminates requirements on businesses to promote car-pooling.
The measure authored by Sen. John Lewis (R-Orange) eliminates that aspect of Regulation 15, the omnibus air pollution measure approved by the South Coast Air Quality Management District in 1987.
"Gov. Wilson has delivered a huge victory for businesses and workers throughout California," Lewis said Thursday after learning that the measure had been signed. "Employee ride-sharing mandates are now costing California businesses hundreds of millions of dollars. It's time to rid our state of this costly and failed experiment."
Officials at the AQMD, which did not oppose the measure, said that elimination of the ride-sharing requirements illustrates the agency's shifting philosophy about how to tackle air pollution. The AQMD governing board in recent years shifted from a avid pro-environment bent to a more business-friendly group of conservatives intent on undoing mandates deemed as social engineering of the worst sort.
"In the past, we have opposed these kinds of bills," said Claudia Keith, a spokeswoman for the agency. "But we have been working to put alternatives in place for employers. This has probably been our most disliked regulation."
Keith said that environmentalists, who have for years been at odds with conservatives over efforts to ratchet down Regulation 15, have been supportive of bills by Lewis and other lawmakers to limit the controversial air pollution policy.
Lewis' bill will eliminate all mandatory ride-sharing regulations in California unless the federal government specifically requires them and threatens sanctions.