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Letters: Special license plates, missing money

April 24, 2013

Re "State misses out on license plate fees," April 19

The article reports that the state has failed to collect up to $22 million in fees for special license plates. California seems to be missing out on a much larger source of income: unregistered vehicles.

State law requires motorists to register their cars in California 20 days after becoming a resident. And yet every day I see cars and trucks with expired registration stickers or license plates from other states. These scofflaws cheat the state out of registration fee revenue and may be driving cars that do not meet our environmental standards.

The solution is simple: Law enforcement must make it a priority to stop and question the drivers of unregistered vehicles. Any vehicle not properly registered should be impounded until the fees are paid.

Michael Silverstein

North Hollywood

While it's been said that there's no such thing as bad publicity, noting that Californians pay extra to have a whale tail license plate in the lead paragraph of the article about the state's mismanagement of some specialty plate funds may have misled readers.

In 2012, the California Department of Finance reviewed all specialty license plates in the state to determine whether fees were being spent in compliance with the law. The department concluded that the California Coastal Commission is using its revenue from the whale plates in full accordance with its purposes.

The Coastal Commission launched the Whale Tail Grants Program in 1998 to support marine and coastal education. Since then, the program has provided a total of $7.7 million, supporting 461 projects throughout the state estimated to have reached a total of 11.6 million people.

Charles Lester

San Francisco

The writer is the executive director of the California Coastal Commission.


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