Laws affecting transit, immigration, SF development among those set to take effect in 2014 

click to enlarge driver’s license
  • Lenny Ignelzi/2011 ap file photo
  • Undocumented immigrants are now eligible to receive driver’s licenses. Backers tout the law, which requires driver testing, as a boon for public safety.
A total of 800 bills enacted by the California Legislature in the 2013 regular session went into effect on New Year’s Day, many centering on immigration status, wages, and — of particular interest to San Francisco — transit issues and green practices.

Among those is Assembly Bill 60, authored by state Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, which makes undocumented immigrants eligible for driver’s licenses. While some may perceive the law as granting undocumented individuals a privilege, it primarily seeks to foster a safe environment for all motorists on the road.

“The reality is, regardless of whether or not you have documents, you have kids, you have a job and you’re going to drive,” said state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, a supporter. “It means undocumented individuals are going to study the rules, take a test, know exactly how to drive and drive well, and that’s something absolutely critical.”

Another bill concerning immigration status — AB 4 — authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, is a revised version of one previously vetoed by the governor. The new TRUST Act curbs local cooperation with the federal Secure Communities deportation program and is intended to create better relationships between local law enforcement and immigrant communities.

Other measures implemented by San Francisco to prevent undocumented immigrants from being held if they are arrested for minor crimes have helped address the deportation issue, said Ammiano’s spokesman Carlos Alcala. But prior to AB 4, Alcala said, the issue “certainly would be a concern anytime those folks go elsewhere in California.”

Also authored by Ammiano, AB 241, or the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, guarantees overtime pay for workers who previously had few labor protections. Workers are now entitled to time-and-a-half pay for any hours worked beyond nine per day or 45 per week.

“This marks the first time that some of these workers have basic labor rights, so it’s a key step in labor rights,” Alcala said. “And this is the third state to implement a domestic worker bill, after New York and Hawaii.”

A San Francisco-specific bill, AB 1112 by Ammiano, corrects an outdated section of code to allow a Bay Area transit agency to seek voter approval of funding equal to the amount that other transit agencies are already allowed to request.

Senate Bill 286 by Yee extends the green-sticker program allowing plug-in hybrid cars to use high-occupancy vehicle lanes on freeways through 2019. Although the program was not set to expire until 2016, Yee said the extra three years “provide an additional incentive for consumers to go ahead and purchase green cars and at the same time protects jobs and San Francisco’s leadership in green technology.”

Specific to San Francisco, AB 1273, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, allows for the approval of a mixed-use development at Piers 30–32, where an arena for the Warriors has been proposed.

“Revitalizing Piers 30-32 will change a parking lot into a destination for families,” Ting said in a statement. “It will generate thousands of good jobs, improve public access and views of the Bay, and clean up a neglected stretch of The Embarcadero.”

AB 755 by Ammiano, who pushed safeguards for the Golden Gate Bridge, requires new bridge and related projects to consider the possible need for suicide-prevention measures.

“These structures often do prove an attraction to people in their lowest moments and this is a first step for getting people to think ahead about these factors,” Alcala said.

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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