With the first month of 2016 behind us, several new laws have already taken effect in the state of California, and right here in Santa Monica, that will change how we go about our day-to-day lives. And there are more to come.
On the state level, starting this year it will be illegal to wear earbuds or headsets in both ears while driving a vehicle or riding a bicycle. Electric skateboard riders must now be 16 years or older, wear helmets and stick to roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less; it will also be against the law to ride an electric skateboard while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
California’s emergency alert system, mostly used for Amber Alerts in child-abduction cases, will now also be used to broadcast a “Yellow Alert” to find hit-and-run drivers in incidents that result in death and/or major injuries.
A one-year extension will be granted to a pilot project in L.A. County, which hopes to limit drunk driving through the use of ignition interlock devices that test the sobriety of drivers. Drivers are required to blow into the devices in order to start their vehicles; and if their blood-alcohol content exceeds a certain level, their cars won’t start.
On July 1, one of the strictest vaccination laws in the country will take effect. The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sens. Richard Pan of Sacramento and Ben Allen of Santa Monica, will allow only children with serious health problems to opt out of school-mandated vaccinations. School-aged children who still remain unvaccinated will need to be home-schooled.
One bill will allow female employees to allege pay discrimination based on the wages a company pays to other employees who do markedly similar work.
The Reproductive FACT Act, now requires pregnancy clinics to hand out, or plainly post information about where women can acquire low-cost contraceptives, prenatal care and abortions.
And the law requiring slow-moving passenger vehicles to pull over carefully to let traffic pass has been revised to apply to all vehicles.
On the home front
There are also several new rules here in Santa Monica, the most notable of which being the municipal code requiring a minimum wage for employees, and requiring a living wage for hotel workers.
In the land of development agreements and land-use, ordinances have allowed for a new 6-story (84 feet), 52,545 square-foot mixed-use project consisting of 64 residential units and 6,345 square feet of ground floor commercial space at 1415 5th St.; a 5-story, 102,500 square-foot mixed-use project consisting of 100 residential units, 13,800 square feet of ground floor commercial space, and 232 parking spaces within a three-level subterranean parking garage at 1560 Lincoln Boulevard (Denny’s); and a 5-story (57 feet), 77,758 square-foot mixed-use project consisting of 90 residential units, 10,617 square feet of ground floor commercial space, and 168 parking spaces within a two-level subterranean parking garage at 1601 Lincoln Boulevard.
An ordinance was put in place that requires individual meters for all multi-family residential projects with six units or fewer; requires all multi-family residential projects with greater than six units to install a master meter and submeters; and deletes the meter exemption for low and moderate multi-family housing.
The San Vicente Boulevard Courtyard Apartments Historic District was also created, and updates have been made to the regulations of vehicles for hire, taxicabs, and pedicabs.
Laws and ordinances on the horizon for the Westside in 2016 include a speed survey update, a modification request to the Santa Monica ordinance prohibiting retail establishments from providing single use plastic carryout bags and regulating the use of paper carryout bags, and zoning ordinance cleanup.