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Sen. Bates authors bill to solidify use of neighborhood electric vehicles

Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) has introduced Senate Bill 214 to permanently grant the County of Orange the authority to establish a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) transportation plan in Rancho Mission Viejo.

“We can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Orange County with the increased use of neighborhood electric vehicles,” said Bates. “Given the information we have after years of study, it is time to make permanent the County’s authority to establish a NEV transportation plan for Rancho Mission Viejo.”

Rancho Mission Viejo is a long-time master planned sustainable community development and its residents are able to access work, shopping, dining and recreation opportunities using one of the state’s largest NEV transportation plans. NEVs are electric-powered vehicles, similar to a golf cart, designed for low-speed neighborhood use that can travel up to 25 mph. The vehicles provide an alternative to automobile travel within the community to reduce emissions and save energy.

The community has developed an extensive NEV infrastructure program to support multiple means of transportation, including a mix of shared NEV and bicycle lanes, slow-speed streets and off-street paths for NEVs.

In 2007, the Legislature passed SB 956, which contained a sunset provision and authorized Rancho Mission Viejo to develop a plan to support NEV usage within the community. Since the passage of SB 956, the Legislature has granted additional extensions to Rancho Mission Viejo to develop its NEV transportation plan and to report on its performance. Senator Bates’ SB 241 in 2015 extended the current sunset date to January 1, 2022.

According to the August 2020 report submitted to the Legislature, Rancho Mission Viejo’s NEV transportation plan has been successful at providing access and mobility for NEVs within the development. Additionally there have been no recorded safety or traffic problems with many people in the community using NEVs to get around.

The Senate has not yet set a date for a committee hearing on the bill.

This article was released by the Office of Senator Patricia Bates.

2 Comments

  1. I think it’s called public transportation.

    It’s nothing new. Natural gas, electric, gas,…

    It’s good to see that republicans are supporting public transportation after they removed that option from South OC in many places. It’s good to see they recognized the mistake and are readdressing the situation. Good Job!

    1. Nek,

      Thank you for reading Orange County Breeze, and for taking the time to comment on this article.

      “Neighborhood electric vehicles” are not public transportation. They are privately owned, street-legal souped-up golf carts, more or less. According to the California DMV Handbook:

      When you see these signs or markings: NEV USE ONLY or NEV ROUTE, watch out for slow-moving vehicles in the roadway. NEVs and LSVs are restricted from roadways where the speed limit is greater than 35 mph (CVC §§385.5 and 21260). NEVs and LSVs reach a maximum speed of 25 mph. Owners of registered NEVs and LSVs must comply with financial responsibility laws and have a valid DL to operate the vehicle.

      I would love to be able to toodle around northwest Orange County in an NEV rather than an SUV, but our streets are not NEV-friendly. Bicyclist and runners do not want to share bike lanes and paths, understandably, with a vehicle big enough to run them down.

      But if you drive around and around a limited area, as I do from Seal Beach to Buena Park, an NEV would be quite handy for errands and work. I’ve also considered an electric bicycle or tricycle, but those alternatives don’t appeal to me

      Again, thank you for reading Orange County Breeze.

      Shelley Henderson
      editor, Orange County Breeze

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