California's governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general are all from the Bay Area. So, essentially, are both of the state's United States senators.
There's a feeling in Golden State politics that the north end of the state has much more power. Gov. Jerry Brown didn't do much to dispel the notion this week.
He rejected legislation that would have opened carpool lanes on certain Los Angeles–area freeways outside of peak hours to all motorists. The thing is, they do this in the Bay Area already. Caltrans spells it out:
In Northern California, HOV lanes are only operational on Monday thru Friday during posted peak congestion hours, for example: between 6 a.m. - 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. All other vehicles may use the lanes during off-peak hours.
And — and — the legislation by Northeast L.A. Assemblyman Mike Gatto would have applied only to the 134 freeway, from North Hollywood to Pasadena, and to the 210 freeway, from Pasadena to Glendora.
"It's happened to anyone who lives in Southern California," Gatto said earlier this month. "A late-night accident or mysterious slowing clogs the rightmost freeway lanes, while the carpool lane sits empty."
But nooo, Brown couldn't let Los Angeles motorists be free, even if just for a relatively small stretch of freeway, at night, when nobody is using these damn lanes taxpayers funded. If you have a Prius plug-in hybrid, you eco-elitist, you're good to go. Ford pickup? Nope.
You built this disco, but most of you can't get past the ropes.
Late yesterday Brown announced he had vetoed Gatto's AB 210. Here's part of the gov's "veto message:"
I continue to believe that carpool lanes are especially important in Los Angeles County to reduce pollution and maximize the use of freeways. Therefore we should continue to retain the current 24/7 carpool lane control.
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Studies have repeatedly found that California carpool lanes are under-utilized. In other words, your observation that they're nearly empty at night is true. In fact, the official legislative analysis of Gatto's bill cites Caltrans' own carpool lane (high-occupancy vehicle, or HOV) traffic numbers for the 210 and 134:
"Data for both highways indicate that the HOV lane usage drops substantially after the 6 p.m. hour," the analysis says.
It's the second time Gatto has tried to get the governor to sign this kind of bill, and it's the second time Brown has rejected the idea. He did so in late 2013, citing the same rationale.
"Carpool lanes are intended to increase the capacities of our freeways, reward those who carpool during rush hour, and protect the surrounding environment from harmful exhaust," Gatto said previously. "When motorists are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic at midnight while carpool lanes sit empty, none of those goals are being met."