After Grand Jury Reprimand, City Streamlines Permits for Electric Car Chargers

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By Bradley Zint, Special to the Independent

The Laguna Beach City Council unanimously approved the first reading Tuesday of a new city law that will facilitate easier installation of electric vehicle charging stations by streamlining the permitting process.

The ordinance, which requires a second reading at a future meeting, comes in response to an Orange County Grand Jury report released earlier this month that pointed out Laguna Beach’s noncompliance with state law.

Assembly Bill 1236, signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015, requires cities and counties to create expedited processes for high-speed electric vehicle stations. The spirit of the law is to “remove obstacles” at the permitting level and increase usage of electric vehicles, which are environmentally friendly, according to the grand jury report.

Laguna was one of eight noncompliant Orange County cities, the grand jury found. It gave all the municipalities until May 1 to comply.

A.B. 1236’s original compliance deadline for cities such as Laguna was September 2017.

Laguna Beach currently accepts applications for electric vehicle charging stations at the Community Development Department. They are reviewed within 10 days. Inspections happen within 24 hours. Typically there are two of them: one to look at wiring and conduit, and a final inspection after all electrical equipment is installed.

Under the new ordinance, applications would be reviewed and permits issued within three business days for those that meet a new expedited checklist and standard plan requirements. Inspections would happen within 24 hours.

Eventually, applicants will be able to complete the permitting process online.

Laguna currently offers four public stations: two in the Forest Avenue parking lot and two in the Glenneyre parking structure. Registration to use them is required by visiting chargepoint.com beforehand.

Rates are $2 an hour for up to four hours. Regular parking rates also apply.

Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis specified that eclectic car maker Tesla has told Laguna it is not interested in adding any of its chargers in the city. She added that four chargers are planned for the Lumberyard parking lot as part of the Village Entrance project.

City Manager John Pietig added that the city is always looking for grants to subsidize the public cost of installing stations.

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