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SANDAG-backed bill promotes neighborhood electric vehicles

 Cities in North County are rallying behind a bill that would expand the use of neighborhood electric vehicles countywide.

The battery-powered vehicles, often resembling motorized golf carts, are currently only allowed on neighborhood streets or streets with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour because of their slow maximum speeds. 

The San Diego Association of Governments is sponsoring the bill, Senate Bill 1151. Co-authored by State Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and State Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside), the bill would allow any jurisdiction in San Diego County to develop and implement neighborhood electric vehicle transportation plans.

By adopting a transportation plan, with the blessing of local law enforcement and SANDAG, cities across the county could expand the streets on which NEVs, as the vehicles are known, could travel.

Encinitas became one of the first cities in the county to send a letter to the State Legislature supporting the bill when it approved the letter in its consent calendar April 18. San Marcos officials will vote on sending a similar letter May 8.

“SB 1151 aligns with the City of Encinitas’ efforts to reduce vehicle emissions by encouraging the use of electric and alternative-fuel vehicles,” Encinitas staff wrote in a report to the council.  “This bill supports a regional approach to expand mobility choices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in support of the region’s and the City of Encinitas’ shared transportation and sustainability goals.”

San Marcos spokeswoman Sarah MacDonald said the bill also mirrored the city’s legislative platform, and staff recommends the city to take a “support” position on the bill.

The bill would expire in 2029 unless reauthorized by the legislature.

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