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County Plan Would Require Ride Sharing : Transit: The action could save $310,000 annually in car-pooling incentives. Union representatives oppose it.


Ventura County officials are drafting a proposal that would require all county employees to car-pool two days a week--or risk losing their jobs.

Officials estimate that the measure would save at least $310,000 annually, money the county now spends enticing employees to share rides, said Alan Bandoli, county employee transportation coordinator.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the proposal later this month.

Although several of the supervisors said Wednesday that they had misgivings about forcing employees to ride together to work, they agreed that the county could no longer afford to continue paying incentives to car poolers.

"We have to do things differently," Supervisor John K. Flynn said. "The money is drying up. We shouldn't have to pay people to do that. It sets a poor example for the rest of the employers in Ventura County. They cannot afford to do it. Why should we do it?"

In an effort to meet state and federal clean air guidelines, the county began paying employees three years ago to share rides to work once or twice a week. Currently, about 1,300 people participate in the program. Each receives between $170 and $200 per year, Bandoli said.

Supervisor Vicky Howard and Maggie Kildee said they first want to try strongly encouraging employees to double up without the compensation. But if that doesn't work, Howard said the county could be forced to implement the mandatory measure.

"We may have to go to the ultimate step," Howard said.

If the supervisors agree to move forward with the requirement, county administrators must seek the approval of union representatives.

Barry Hammitt, the executive director of the county government's largest union, said Wednesday that he is sharply opposed to the proposal, adding that it would demoralize the county's work force.

"The idea of parking-lot police strikes me as a silly endeavor," Hammitt said. "The bottom line is I'm disappointed that this is the best the county can come up with. They should consider the money they would lose because of lost productivity and low morale."

Ken Maffei, president of the Ventura County Professional Firefighters Assn., also blasted the plan.

"I don't think your job should be contingent on it," Maffei said. "It holds a gun to people's heads."

Hammitt also questioned whether the county could adequately enforce the requirement.

"(Violators) will just avoid parking on the county property," Hammitt said. "They will park on the city streets, they will park in the parking lots of other businesses."

Bandoli said he is still figuring out how the county would enforce the plan. But ultimately the success of the measure would depend on the honesty of employees.

"The only way we could monitor 6,500 employees is if we had 6,500 people watching them," Bandoli said. "Yes, they could cheat. The majority of our enforcement would be based on the honesty and the integrity of our employees."

Bandoli said if the measure is implemented, employees who refuse to comply would first be given a warning. If they continue to violate the measure, he said employees could lose their jobs.

Under the plan, the county would become the second area employer to mandate car pooling in an effort to meet state and federal clean air guidelines.

The county's current ride-sharing regulations require companies with 100 or more employees to devise plans to meet a car-pooling goal of at least five employees for every four cars arriving at work in the morning. By 1998, the standard will be raised to three people for every two cars.

About a year ago, Procter & Gamble Paper Products Co. in Oxnard adopted a plan directing its 600 employees to share rides to work.

Bob Paulger, public affairs manager for Procter & Gamble, said the program has worked out well.

"Our people have been magnificent," Paulger said. "It puts the responsibility where it squarely exists--on the employees."

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