SACRAMENTO — As the Legislature's regular two-year session wound to a close last month, lawmakers grappled with statewide and global issues ranging from seat-belt laws to apartheid.
But such local issues as South Bay parking problems also received a share of the attention from the Legislature and from Gov. George Deukmejian, who on Tuesday completed action on the last of about 3,500 bills.
For several years, traffic officials in Hermosa Beach and Los Angeles have been employing a wheel-locking device to immobilize cars whose owners repeatedly ignore parking tickets. But state law allowed the device--known as the Denver Boot--to be used only on cars with five or more tickets and with outdated registrations.
Faced with a mounting number of scofflaws who ignore parking tickets, the officials earlier this year approached Sen. Robert Beverly (R-Manhattan Beach) to carry legislation to widen their authority to use the boot on cars with current registrations.
$40,000 a Year
After the Legislature passed the measure and Gov. Deukmejian signed it in June, Hermosa Beach became one of the first cities to utilize the new law.
"The Beverly bill will help the city," said Joan Noon, the city's general services administrator, who predicted that it will add up to $40,000 a year to the city's treasury. Even without the change in the law, the city was expected to raise about $900,000 a year in parking fees and tickets--the fourth-largest revenue-generator for the city's $11.6-million budget.
The Denver Boot measure was one of more than 7,000 bills introduced in the session and among scores of proposals sparked by Los Angeles-area problems or disputes.
South Bay-oriented bills focused on coastal issues, ranging from preserving Harbor Lake in Wilmington to halting landslides on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Most South Bay bills are brought to legislators by cities or special interests such as unions.
Portuguese Bend Slides
For example, last year officials of the city of Rancho Palos Verdes persuaded Assemblyman Gerald N. Felando (R-San Pedro) to introduce legislation to provide $2 million to halt landslides in Portuguese Bend. City officials regularly flew to Sacramento to testify for the bill, which was opposed by some lawmakers worried that the state would be providing special help to one city while other coastal cities had similar problems.
"If your district has a problem, you have to introduce legislation to correct it," said Felando.
But sometimes local issues are not greeted warmly by the governor.
For example, Assemblyman Dave Elder (D-Long Beach), whose district includes San Pedro and Wilmington, persuaded the Legislature to pass a bill to allow the state Coastal Conservancy to spend up to $500,000 to help clean up Harbor Lake in Wilmington.
Deukmejian vetoed the proposal Tuesday, saying that if the park is polluted, it should be cleaned up. "However, this project should be done by the city of Los Angeles, which owns the site, rather than the state of California. I would hope the city would make such a project a priority."
These district bills--whether they succeed or fail--take up only a small portion of a legislator's time.
Sen. Herschel Rosenthal (D-Los Angeles) said most bills introduced by Los Angeles-area legislators are aimed at issues affecting the entire state--not only their districts or even Los Angeles County.
Seldom Band Together
Rosenthal said that delegations from Orange and San Diego counties frequently band together to support legislation on such issues as school financing and transportation in their areas. In contrast, he said, the 44 Los Angeles County legislators--who make up more than one-third of the 120-seat Legislature--rarely speak with a single voice.
Said Rosenthal: "It's very seldom, if ever, the whole county delegation sticks together on anything. If they did, we'd run the whole place."
Indeed, a major controversy erupted last year over a bill by Sen. Beverly that would have eliminated community college attendance boundaries. The measure was supported by El Camino College, which stood to gain students from the large Los Angeles Community College District.
But the Los Angeles district opposed the so-called "free-flow" bill for fear of losing students and rallied Los Angeles city legislators--such as then-Assemblyman Richard Alatorre (D-Los Angeles)--to oppose the bill, which Beverly shelved in the Assembly Education Committee.
Lawndale Bill Vetoed
Other bills are passed by the Legislature but wind up being vetoed by the governor. Such was the case Tuesday when Deukmejian rejected a bill sponsored by the city of Lawndale that would have allowed it to employ a special financing tool reserved for redevelopment agencies to complete an agreement to build 90 apartments for the elderly.