California State Law Does Little to Limit Free Employee Parking
In 1992, California state lawmakers enacted a law requiring certain employers to pay a monthly stipend to employees who carpool, ride public transit, walk or bike to work. Statewide, only Santa Monica enforces the law. "Under the parking cash-out program, employers must pay a stipend equal to the cost of a parking space to workers who do not drive to the office. The law covers public and private employers that have at least 50 employees and that offer free parking in a leased lot." One Los Angeles area worker chose $185 a month from his employer over free parking; then he bought a $52-a-month bus pass and pocketed the difference.
Martin Wachs, director of the Rand Corp.'s Transportation, Space and Technology Program, believes the cash-out program a good first step. However, he believes that Los Angeles should also limit parking in high rises: "It doesn't make sense to me to spend billions to build subways and the buildings next to them that have seven, eight, ten levels of parking that is provided free to those employees."
The statute includes a $500 fine per vehicle for noncompliance, but not one company has been fined.