Simanaitis Says

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HERE AT SimanaitisSays, I avoid political matters, especially local ones. There is a surfeit of websites addressing them and, besides, statistics show that typically more than half of you, bless your hearts, don’t live in the U.S., let alone California.


However, a couple of recent events prompt this item, and perhaps it has general interest because of social engineers telling us how to live, though they often choose to live quite otherwise.


California State Legislature. Image from, attributed there to the Los Angeles Times, February 16, 2009.

A California State Senate proposal cutting gasoline use by 50 percent by 2030 has been overturned. On a local level, there is also news from Los Angeles that mirrors a modest suggestion of my own, which I share anon.

California State Senate Bill 350 addresses climate change with a wide range of requirements. Today, 25 percent of California’s electricity is produced from renewables. SB350 would raise this to 50 percent by 2030 and also double the energy efficiency of existing buildings in the same timeframe. What got a lot of attention was its goal of cutting gasoline use by 50 percent in the next fifteen years.


In September 9, 2015, The New York Times reported “California Democrats Drop Plan for 50 Percent Oil Cut.” Locally, The Orange County Register, September 13, 2015, described it as “Governor Dealt Rare Setback.” Both suggested that it was a win for oil companies which were said to have spent a “multi-billion-dollar advertising campaign” on the matter.

And, I might add, it’s a win for California drivers too, who already live with clean-air objectives of the state’s Air Resources Board. CARB, as it is known, is a panel charged with devising standards, for example, on the makeup of gasoline sold in the state. Californians pay around a dollar more per gallon than the national average for our unique Reformulated Gasoline Phase 3, a fuel that requires 146 pages of CARB documentation to describe its clean-air benefits.


CARB’s document on Reformulated Gasoline Phase 3 can be had in .pdf format.

Nothing is mentioned about the dirty air blowing into California from other states or countries. But that’s another story.

In any event, SB350 is now rattling one less saber. And, on an immensely more productive level, also reported in The Orange County Register, September 13, 2015, was Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s announcement that the city was putting its money where its mouth is.

Los Angeles will lease 160 Battery Electric Vehicles which, given California’s cleaner-than-national-average electrical grid, promise to “reduce greenhouse emissions and also make less noise.” One assumes their sirens will still operate when needed.

The Orange County Register continues, “The Los Angeles Police Department will use 100 of the vehicles, while the Fire Department, General Services and Water and Power Department will lease the remaining 60. More than 100 plug-in hybrid vehicles will also be acquired.”


Garcetti noted that the new acquisitions will give Los Angeles the largest city-owned BEV fleet in the country.

In an admittedly trivial way, maybe letters to my State Assembly Member and Senator had some effect. Briefly, I offered a modest suggestion: The State of California operates a large fleet of vehicles. Why not require these State Legislature social engineers to test the efficacy of proposals on themselves before inflicting them on the rest of us? ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2015


  1. Mike B
    September 15, 2015

    Having worked for the state, I can aver that the California *does* get some unusual vehicles that get good gas mileage (or even electric mileage). We had some BEVs in the 1990s: the GM EV1 was a rocket ride, but barely got 40 miles on a charge; the Honda EV was very nice, if a tad underpowered, though with a bit of Diesel Driving Technique it got along fine with a 70-90 mile range; my Dept. (not ARB) even bought some RAV4 electrics that got used a lot by the Big Bosses for running around town until only a few years ago. The pool also had some early hybrids (original Honda Insights with stick shift; Prius Gen 1) that were returned to the fleet after something else was bought for Departmental trophy cars; the Insights were tiny, but for runs to the Bay Area or around the Valley from Sacramento they worked fine and got 60+ mpg in stop/go traffic (about 70 at reasonable freeway speeds), and being one of maybe 5 state employees who could work a stick shift I could usually get one.

    Later, because of Federal regs, they got a lot of CNG (Honda) or dual CNG/gasoline vehicles (no luggage space due to the tank; dual-fuel CNG vans could get a group from Sac to about Santa Nella, then switched to gasoline (with the engine dying briefly) on the steep part of 152…).

    One of Jerry Brown’s things was to cut way back on the state motor pool, so now people who have to travel mostly get rentals from Enterprise or the like. Not sure that’s saving money, really, and it certainly isn’t cutting emissions considering the gas mileage most of their beasts (even small ones) don’t get.

    I understand that many of the legislators ask for hybrids when their cars are leased. Unfortunately, they want the big ones – SUVs and the like – so the gas mileage is still pretty poor. Did like Arnold’s (not a state car) hydrogen Hummer…

    Finally, why rent a car every time? I could get from my house in suburban Sacramento to downtown LA in, usually, 3 hours or so: Southwest to Burbank, and Metrolink downtown. The early morning connection at Burbank Airport is pretty easy, and the train ticket is good on the subway or shuttles around downtown. Quicker, less stressful, and cheaper than renting a car in Burbank, driving downtown, and finding a place to park. Introduced a few others to that, and it became a standard itinerary.

    • simanaitissays
      September 15, 2015

      Thanks, Mike, for this most interesting assessment of California and its alternative vehicles.

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