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By C. Jayden Smith

Letters of support for all but one of a few staff-recommended pieces of pending state legislation were approved by the San Clemente City Council last week.

Each of the supported measures, the council found, aligns with the city’s overall direction, as well as with General Plan policies that support safe connectivity between the community and city’s coastal and hillside outdoor spaces, the promotion of safety awareness for all parties involved in traffic, and the preservation of the surfing heritage and culture within San Clemente.

As part of the council’s vote, city staff was directed to send the letters of support to Assembly Appropriations Committee Chair Chris Holden and California State Assemblymember Janet Nguyen.

Among the measures that the council backed was Assembly Bill 1946, Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath’s legislation that would direct California Highway Patrol to develop statewide safety standards and training programs pertaining to electric bicycles.

Both of the Assembly’s committees on Transportation and Appropriations unanimously approved AB 1946, sending the bill to the consent calendar on Thursday, April 7.

Another measure, Assembly Bill 2177, would establish a path to designate an area of the coastline as a state surfing reserve, while Assembly Concurrent Resolution 116 would recognize Sept. 20 as California Surfing Day.

Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin’s AB 2177 remains within the Committee on Appropriations, and ACR 116 has sat in the Committee on Rules since January.

Crucially, one bill making its way through the Assembly did not receive the council’s stamp of approval at its April 5 meeting: Assembly Bill 1909, Assemblymember Laura Friedman’s legislation concerning municipalities’ authority to govern e-bike usage.

Jennifer Savage, assistant to the city manager, said the oft-revised bill has been referred to the Committee on Appropriations and contains provisions that have troubled Republican assemblymembers, such as barring cities from licensing the e-bikes.

“(Just off that) alone, I can’t support it,” replied Mayor Gene James. “From my perspective, I think we wait until this goes to the floor of the General Assembly and see what that final bill looks like.”

The councilmembers discussed how to best communicate their issues with the city’s representatives in Sacramento, with Mayor Pro Tem Chris Duncan suggesting they speak with Mark Apreya, San Clemente’s contracted legislative consultant, to determine the next step regarding AB 1909.

According to the latest version of the bill, if enacted, cities would have the authority to establish local laws prohibiting any class of electric bicycles on equestrian trails and hiking and recreation trails.

Based on an apparent lack of outreach from Friedman’s office regarding the bill, Councilmember Kathy Ward agreed that speaking with Apreya would be a more direct method.

Additionally, a public speaker voiced her concern with the lack of shared responsibility between motor vehicles and e-bike riders to keep a safe distance on the road and the restriction of local control.

As the bill stands on Wednesday, April 13, motor vehicles would be required to move into another lane, if available, when passing an e-bike and any overtaking would occur at a distance no less than 3 feet between the two modes of transportation.

City Manager Erik Sund said last week that after Apreya discusses the council’s opinion with Friedman, he will meet with councilmembers to review his findings.

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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comments (2)

  • According to the changes of AB 1909, the bill still restricts local control and cities’ ability to regulate its trails and paths. Also, the bill seems to place the burden solely on the motor vehicle driver versus having dual responsibility. Very frequently these electric bikes disregard rules of the road blowing through stop signs and signal lights. Not only does AB 1909 requires the driver to assume almost all responsibility for maintaining a 3-foot distance, but there is no duty to the driver of an electric bike to do the same. The driver is automatically guilty of the moving violation. There are concerns regarding the passing of the e-bikes.

    AB 1909 includes set fines for the violation for a driver of a motor vehicle in SEC. 4. 21760 of the Vehicle Code of subdivision (b), (c), or (d) for a driver of a motor vehicle with a fine of thirty-five dollars ($35). However, there are no consequences for the driver of an electric bike that violates Section 4 and this bill does not address STOP signs either, which many riders of electric bikes do not stop at whether pedestrians are present or not.

    Additionally, SEC. 5. Section 39002 of the Vehicle Code restricts a “city or county, which adopts a bicycle licensing ordinance or resolution, shall not prohibit the operation of an unlicensed bicycle” and this restricts local control since there is no consequence of not having a license for the bicycle.” This bill also places restrictions on local control regarding the registration of e-bikes as well.

  • we were walking on the beach long before a trail was built the trail was built for biking

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