[UPDATED/BREAKING: 9/18/13; 1:48 p.m. PDT]
LOS ANGELES -- The Greater California Livery Association is asking Gov. Jerry Brown to veto SB 109, a Legislature-approved bill that would require extensive exit retrofits on all stretch limousines carrying six to nine passengers. GCLA President Mark Stewart signed a letter that was sent to the Governor's Office today.
COPY OF SB109 LETTER HERE.
Meanwhile, the GCLA sent a separate letter signed by Stewar to the Governor's Office that supports his signature of SB 338, a Legislature-approved bill requiring the installation of two fire extinguishers aboard stretch limousines and annual safety inspections of stretches carrying six to nine passengers.
COPY OF SB338 LETTER HERE.
Both letters were prepared by GCLA lobbyists Gregg Cook and Rob Grossglauser of Government Affairs Consulting, the lobbying firm retained by the GCLA that has been advocating on its behalf as these bills worked their way through the legislative process.
Original article posted 9/16/13 with more details resumes below . . .
LOS ANGELES — California limousine operators who run stretch limousines carrying 10 or fewer people (including chauffeur) will face a tough decision: Either retrofit them with safety exits or buy more expensive five-door stretch models.
Both options bring extra costs and hassles for a transportation segment already among the most highly regulated and licensed in California and in the nation.
S.B. 109, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, will require all stretch limousines of 10 passengers or fewer to be retrofitted with two pop-out windows OR one pop-out window and one rooftop exit. It also mandates that all new stretch limousines of those passenger capacities purchased after July 1, 2015 in California include a fifth door.
The bill cleared the California State Sentate and General Assembly last week on wide majority votes.
“The retrofit amount of time is not adequate for the industry to make necessary changes,” said Mark Stewart, president of the Greater California Livery Association. The GCLA had tried to extend the retrofit deadline to Jan. 1, 2020, but Corbett was not willing to compromise.
LCT BACKGROUND ARTICLE ON RETROFIT HERE
Of particular concern is how an estimated 3,000-plus stretch limousines now licensed in the state can be retrofitted in time for the Jan. 1, 2016 deadline. California has only one limousine manufacturer with the Qualified Vehicle Modifiers (QVM) designation from Ford Motor Co.: Tiffany Coach Builders in Corona. Other limousine manufacturers include smaller, independent custom-coach companies that may or may not have the ability or willingness to do the retrofits.
The actual costs and mechanics of doing the retrofits are unknown at this point, Stewart said, and there are questions as to how such unprecedented retrofits would affect the structural integrity of existing stretch limousine bodies.
The GCLA actually is not opposed to the fifth-door requirement on new limousines after July 1, 2015, but opposes the bill because of the retrofit rules, Stewart said.
Fire Extinguisher Bill
As expected, the State Legislature passed S.B. 338, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, requiring two fire extinguishers to be installed on all stretch limousines with capacities of 10 passengers or fewer (including chauffeur). It also mandates annual safety inspections of such stretch models at minimal cost.
The GCLA supported S.B. 338, Stewart said, since the fire extinguisher requirement matches the safety recommendations of the National Limousine Association.
The new state laws will be one of the topics at the GCLA’s annual Vehicle Expo on Sept. 25 in Costa Mesa, Calif.
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor
San Francisco Chronicle article here