Possible compromise for a California port air quality bill

| 8/9/2002

Truckers picking up at ports may have to make appointments. Legislation aimed at pushing semis faster through the Port of Los Angeles to improve air quality got a second chance Thursday. Now, a possible compromise is being worked out that could send the bill to the governor's desk.

AB2650 has been bouncing from committee to committee since the first of the year. Under the original bill, by Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal (D-San Pedro), truckers would have had to reach the outside gate of a terminal within 30 minutes of getting in line. If they exceeded the time limit, terminal operators could be fined up to $250.

The bill also made it a misdemeanor for the owner or operator of a terminal to pass that fine on to an owner-operator. If the owner of a terminal sends an owner-operator to a staging area outside the terminal, they would be subject to a $750 fine. Exemptions would be granted for terminals that stay open during non-peak hours. The measure was endorsed by the California Trucking Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, but strongly opposed by port management.

On Wednesday, a compromise was reached that sets up an appointment system. Terminals also won concessions that would mean no fines if an appointment system is in place and delays are unavoidable. According to Stephanie Williams with the California Trucking Association, the law would call for the new system to be in place by July 2003. Some terminals are expected to start the appointment system by the end of this year, she said.

AB2650 was passed as amended and sent to the Committee on Appropriations.