Doorway: A revision to local laws expands the prohibition on blocking doorways. SMDP Photo

The New Year brings with it the annual tradition of new laws taking effect at the local and state level. This year’s crop of rules cover a variety of topics including public safety, rent and traffic.

Santa Monica rules:

4.08.097(a)MC Prohibition against sitting or lying in doorways at night. In 2022, the City Council amended and expanded the doorway ordinance already covering most of Downtown to include the following corridors: Colorado Ave., Broadway, Lincoln Blvd., Pico Blvd., Santa Monica Blvd, and Wilshire Blvd. The Downtown border was expanded from the east side of Ocean Ave to the west side of Ocean Ave.

4.08.095(a)MC Prohibition against camping in public places. New case law from Grants Pass Oregon required some important modifications to Santa Monica Municipal Code Section 4.08.095(a). Most significantly, the City is no longer enforcing its camping prohibitions against homeless individuals who are merely sleeping with the use of blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, and other rudimentary protections against the weather on public property.

Measure RC — Santa Monica voters passed measure RC in November which will cap future maximum general adjustment for rent control tenants at 3%, or $19 a month, starting in February 2023 and will also reduce maximum allowable rents to 0.8% through August 2023. This is a decrease from the previous 6%, $140 per month cap. Tenants can expect a written notice from landlords reflecting this change effective Feb. 1.

Public Safety:

Hate crimes in schools — Assembly Bill 2282, which takes effect on the first of the year, increases penalties for people who use hateful symbols as part of hate crimes — swastikas, nooses, desecrated crosses — and expands restricted locations to include K-12 schools and colleges.

Feather alert system — Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1314 earlier this year, which creates a system like Amber Alert but for indigenous people who have gone missing “under unexplained or suspicious circumstances.”

Catalytic converter thefts — AB 1740 and SB 1087 are companion bills that prevent recyclers from purchasing or receiving catalytic converters from places other than a commercial enterprise, such as an auto dismantler or parts dealer, or from an individual who is not the owner of the vehicle that was the source of the part. These laws enhance requirements on recyclers to keep specific records of catalytic converters they receive and on the authorized parties that can sell used catalytic converters.

Traffic Laws:

Passing bicycles — Existing California law required vehicles to maintain a 3-foot distance when passing bicycles headed in the same direction. A new law will now require vehicles to move into another lane “with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, if practicable and not prohibited by law.” AB 1909

Bicycle lanes — AB 1909 ends the statewide ban of Class 3 (the most powerful) electric bicycles on bicycle paths, bikeways and bike lanes. It also limits local authorities’ ability to ban electric bikes only on equestrian and hiking trails.

Jaywalking — The Freedom to Walk Act prevents police officers from ticketing pedestrians who cross a road at a place other than a designated crosswalk if it is safe. AB 2147 only allows officers to stop and ticket a pedestrian if there is an immediate danger of collision. This new law does not relieve the pedestrian or a driver of their duty to drive and/or cross safely.

Traffic and pedestrian stops — The Department of Justice will create a video that demonstrates proper law enforcement conduct during a traffic stop. AB 2537 also requires the DMV to include that video in its driver education materials and to inform individuals who are receiving or renewing their driver’s licenses that the video is available to watch on the DMV website.

Illegal street racing — It is already illegal in California for a person to race a vehicle on a highway. AB 2000 also makes it a crime for a person to race or participate in a speed exhibition in an off-street parking facility.

DMV Updates:

Online Driver’s License Renewal for Californians 70 and Older — California law will again require drivers 70 and older to renew their license in person at a DMV office. In 2020, Gov. Newsom temporarily waived the California law requiring senior drivers to renew their licenses at a DMV field office as a pandemic safety measure.

Permanent Disabled Person Parking Placard Renewals — The DMV is sending notices to Californians who have had their permanent Disabled Person Parking Placard for at least six years and asking them to confirm that they are still in need of one. The DMV will not renew placards for people who do not respond.

Self-driving vehicle warnings — Dealers and manufacturers that sell new passenger vehicles equipped with a partial driving automation feature or provide any software update or vehicle upgrade that adds such a feature are required to give a clear description of its functions and limitations. The law also prohibits a manufacturer or dealer from deceptively marketing a feature.

Veteran Designation on Driver’s Licenses — This law eliminates the $5 fee for obtaining a military “VETERAN” designation on a driver’s license or identification (ID) card.

Toll Exemptions for Certain Veterans — This law exempts vehicles registered to veterans displaying specialized license plates from paying tolls on roads, bridges, highways, vehicular crossings, or other toll facilities. The exemption applies only to vehicles with license plates that are issued to a disabled veteran, Pearl Harbor survivor, prisoner of war, or to veterans who have received distinctions such as the Purple Heart or the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Digital notifications — This law allows customers to receive certain DMV notices electronically if they opt in. It also removes the requirement that a vehicle salesperson’s license be renewed in person, which will enable the DMV to establish a renewal program that allows for consecutive remote vehicle salesperson license renewals.

Alternatives to Conventional License Plates — The DMV will create a new ongoing program that allows entities to issue alternatives such as digital license plates, vinyl front license plate wraps and digital registration cards. Since 2015, the current pilot program has enrolled more than 19,000 customers for digital license plates, more than 5,000 customers for vinyl license plates and less than 100 customers for e-registration. The DMV will work on regulations to govern how the requirements for the permanent program will be implemented.

Promoting Equity

Reform of License Suspension Law — California state courts will stop sending notices to the DMV for license suspensions for failure to appear while requiring the DMV to stop suspending licenses for failing to appear starting on January 1, 2027, to allow time to make computer programming changes.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...