SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian Friday signed into law an anti-gridlock bill allowing stiff fines against motorists who block traffic because they enter intersections on a green light but become trapped when the light turns red.
The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, was sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sepulveda), who said it would "help traffic flow by punishing drivers who selfishly block intersections."
Lt. Dan Cooke, a spokesman for Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, said Friday that the law will be "strongly enforced" after a public education period.
"Nothing causes more frustration than sitting at an intersection or in the middle of the block when nothing is moving," he said.
"That gets people fired (up) and they start driving with an angry attitude. And it helps create fights and shootings on the streets, as we've just recently experienced."
Cities Can Get Tougher
Proposed fines for motorists who violate the anti-gridlock law could range from $50 to $500.
In addition, the law authorizes cities to impose much stiffer fines at particularly troublesome intersections where warning signs and distinctive striping are placed. Fines for blocking those intersections would be $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense and up to $500 for subsequent violations.
Los Angeles Councilman Michael Woo has already proposed an ordinance to impose the stiffer penalties at 30 to 50 intersections. Those corners are now being selected by city traffic engineers.
Meanwhile, in other bill-signing action, the governor also signed a measure to require new sports and entertainment facilities to be built with enough women's restrooms to meet the need at peak hours, thereby reducing long waiting lines.
Called the Restroom Equity Act, the statute was sponsored by Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles).
It says the purpose of the legislation is "to end the inequitable delays which women face when they need to use restroom facilities in public places when men are rarely required to wait for the same purpose."
Torres got the idea for the bill after he was forced to wait nearly 30 minutes for his wife, Yolanda, a Los Angeles television personality, to use the restroom during a concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
"It's uncomfortable and unhealthy for women and children to be forced to wait for 20 to 30 minutes to use a restroom," he said.
It defines public facilities as including sports and entertainment arenas, stadiums, community and convention halls, specialty event centers, amusement facilities and ski resorts.
Hearings to Be Held
The office of the state architect and the state Building Standards Commission are charged with holding a series of public hearings with representatives of affected industries before adopting restroom equipment standards for both women and men.
These standards would set the required ratio of toilets, urinals and sinks to the number of people attending events at public facilities.
"The response and support of this bill has been amazing," Torres said. "Letters have poured in from across the state, nation and the world. A woman from Modesto recently approached me and said, 'Thank you, senator. I've waited 60 years for this bill.' "
Deukmejian also signed into law another bill to make dogfighting a felony offense with a potential fine not to exceed $50,000 and a state prison term of up to three years. It was introduced by Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles).