L.A. CITY HALL: Ride-sharing services, taxi company regulations: "L.A. to re-examine regulations controlling city's taxi companies" ...  

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. to re-examine regulations controlling city's taxi companies" - From the LAT:

In a push to level the playing field for taxi firms competing with new, app-based ride-sharing businesses, Los Angeles officials agreed Thursday to re-examine hundreds of regulations that control the city's nine licensed cab companies.

At the urging of Mayor Eric Garcetti, the five members of the Board of Taxicab Commissioners said they would review a 64-page taxi rulebook with an eye toward scrapping some regulations and modifying others that put cabs at a competitive disadvantage.

In a letter sent to the taxi board Wednesday, Garcetti urged the officials to "take all steps necessary to ensure equal competition." The growth of companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar means taxi officials need to update policies, including those governing availability of cabs and rates that can be charged, Garcetti wrote.

Lyft, Uber and Sidecar are regulated by the California Public Utility Commission and are not subject to Los Angeles taxi rules. However, city officials could modify existing policies, allowing more taxis to operate in the city or granting them more flexibility in setting fares. Other U.S. cities, including Chicago, Houston and Seattle, have moved to impose controls on ride-sharing firms, requiring driver training, insurance policies and vehicle inspections. Los Angeles is the first major city to pursue the opposite strategy: easing regulations for legacy cab operations.


The taxi commission's review of current rules will require "cooperation and regulation" from the state, Garcetti said in his letter. The statewide Public Utilities Commission requires ride-sharing services to obtain permits and comply with safety requirements, including vehicle inspections, basic insurance coverage and driver background checks.

Garcetti asked city taxi officials to present recommendations by the end of the year.......


L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles municipal elections, low voter turnout, editorial: "A simple fix for L.A.'s voter turnout problem" ....

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "A simple fix for L.A.'s voter turnout problem" - From the LAT:

When fewer than 1 in 4 registered Los Angeles voters bothered to cast a ballot for a new mayor last year, it set off a round of soul-searching among city officials and political experts. Why were voters so disengaged? What would make them show up at the polls? What does it say about the nature of our democracy if the city's leaders are selected by only a small fraction of eligible voters while the rest stay at home?

Seeking answers, city officials established the Municipal Elections Reform Commission, which eight months later offered some 30 ideas to make voting more convenient, improve outreach and help foster a culture of voting. But the commission's primary recommendation was one that its members believe could instantly double the number of people who vote in city races: Reschedule L.A.'s election days to coincide with presidential and gubernatorial elections.


Low voter turnout isn't unique to Los Angeles. . . . . . . .


There are trade-offs that may come with switching to on-cycle elections. . . . . . . .

And let's not fool ourselves. Moving election dates is a procedural change that would surely capture more registered voters and increase turnout rates, but nobody should suggest that it would solve the civic engagement problem...................


POLITICS (State, Local/Bay Area): California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E, shakeup, "housecleaning," editorial: "PG&E 'housecleaning' stops short of the top" ....

* San Francisco Chronicle (editorial):  "PG&E 'housecleaning' stops short of the top" - From the Chronicle:

A culture of collusion between Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executives and top state regulators is on display in e-mails that show the utility judge-shopping in a key dispute and top regulators easily giving in. Though several people were fired, it’s a scandal that demands more consequences.

Three utility executives were dismissed, along with the top aide to state Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey, who recused himself from further deliberations dealing with PG&E and the aftermath of the deadly San Bruno gas-line explosion.

If Gov. Brown needs any more convincing, the exchanges between the utility and regulators are convincing evidence that Peevey must be replaced as the state agency’s top leader. His term is due to run out this year, and Brown must use his power of appointment to redirect the commission, which has lost its independence and honesty.

At issue is a string of e-mails unearthed by a lawsuit brought by the city of San Bruno. . . . . . . .

The disaster led to a pending $1.4 billion penalty against PG&E, along with a federal lawsuit claiming criminal negligence. . . . . . . .

The shifts in company attitude ring hollow now, as does the PUC’s resolve to monitor the wayward utility. The latest e-mails clarify the picture drawn by an earlier set of private messages between the company and regulators: PG&E expects and receives special treatment.


The wave of firings appear warranted. But they should only be a start. Peevey, who sets the tone and bears responsibility for the PUC’s conduct, must be replaced. His credibility and effectiveness are at an end.


SACRAMENTO: California Coastal Commission, unusual situation, decision on filling vacancy: "Deal struck over Coastal Commission vacancy" .... 

***Following up on earlier item noted here (AB 1759, California Coastal Commission, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia)....

* Capitol Weekly:  "Deal struck over Coastal Commission vacancy" - From Capitol Weekly:

In a rare move, a seat on the state’s powerful Coastal Commission will remain vacant for weeks following an unsuccessful effort in the Capitol to allow the newly elected mayor of Long Beach to serve on the 12-member panel. The position officially became vacant this week.

The position, the South Coast local government seat, requires an elected official selected from the city councils or boards of supervisors in Los Angeles or Orange counties. A decision on who will fill that seat could be made as early as December, when state lawmakers return to Sacramento for a brief procedural session. That session will be the first at which newly named Senate Leader Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, will preside after he formally takes over on Oct. 15 from Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. As Senate leader, De Leon will chair the five-member Senate Rules Committee, which is responsible for making the appointment.


The new vacancy stems from an 11th-hour political move in the Capitol, in which allies of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia sought to rewrite state law to allow Garcia to serve on the commission. As an elected member of the Long Beach City Council, had been a member of the Coastal Commission.

But when he was elected mayor, he was no longer an elected member of the city council under the city’s charter form of government, according to the state attorney general’s office, which said the “plain language” of the rule was clear. Garcia and the Coastal Commission were made aware of the conflict earlier this year, before Garcia was elected mayor.


The bill that failed would have allowed Garcia to serve both as mayor of a charter city and commission member simultaneously – a move that drew fire from some environmentalists, who pointed to campaign donations he had received from lobbyists, land-use experts, developers and others..................


POLITICS (State, Local/Bay Area): California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E, continuing controversy: "Pols want AG to probe CPUC's ties with PG&E" ....

***Following up on most recent earlier items noted here (California Public Utilitiels Commission, PG&E, "improper communications," lobbying, judge-shopping, ouster of officials, etc.)....

* San Jose Mercury News (Political Blotter):  "Pols want AG to probe CPUC's ties with PG&E" - From the MN:

Peninsula politicians want state Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate possible crimes involving the California Public Utilities Commission’s shockingly cozy relationship with PG&E during the agency’s probe of the utility after the deadly 2010 gas explosion in San Bruno.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo; Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco; and San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane will hold a news conference Friday morning in San Francisco to deliver a letter to Harris.

The latest revelation of emails between CPUC staff and PG&E executives led to the outser of officials at both this week. . . . . . . . .


“The letter from Hill, Mullin and Ruane also cites what appear to have been a series of illegal interventions on PG&E’s behalf in the penalty case against PG&E for the explosion in San Bruno. . . . .,” according to a news release from Hill’s office.

Gov. Jerry Brown offered full-throated support for CPUC President Michael Peevey last month even after an initial disclosure of e-mails related to the San Bruno case............

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