L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announces electric vehicle infrastructure plan

By this time next year, electric vehicles could be popping up all around Los Angeles, and the “quintessential city of sprawl” plans to be ready, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Tuesday.

Along with a network of partners, the city plans to update 400 existing charging stations around the region while adding 100, Villaraigosa said. Electric vehicle owners also probably would receive tax rebates to construct home chargers and would have access to high-occupancy-vehicle lanes and preferential or free parking.

“Every year we read with consternation that we’re either No. 1 in traffic congestion or No. 1 in air pollution,” the mayor said during a news conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center, as workers inside prepared for the L.A. Auto Show, which starts Friday. “We realized that we needed to find new, cleaner ways to travel.”

Villaraigosa painted a rosy portrait in which the newelectric vehicle infrastructure would lure battery and charging station manufacturers to Los Angeles, create masses of green jobs and reduce reliance on foreign oil.

The plan would also spur investment in local clean-tech ventures, said Linda Adams, secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

City officials will attempt to streamline the permitting and inspection process for the new charging stations, according to the plan. To encourage more plug-in options, local building codes and standards could be revised, and utilities will develop a specialized customer service process to deal with electric vehicle owners.

Though not all the costs and funding sources associated with the collaboration have been finalized, Villaraigosa estimated that about $10 millionwould go to fund incentives of as much as $2,000 each for the first 5,000 residential customers looking to build home chargers. Purchasing electric vehicles for the city fleet would run an additional $6 million.

Partners in the plan include Southern California Edison Co., the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Nissan Motor Co., General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and the cities of Burbank, Pasadena, Santa Ana and Santa Monica.

The effort to construct a foundation to support electric cars is an “audacious task,” Villaraigosa said. But it is crucial to prepare for the expected influx of thousands of electric vehicles, he said.

“Are we ready today? No,” he said. “Are we going to be ready? We have to be. The car culture started here, and it’s here that the new generation of vehicles should also begin.”