Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) has introduced Senate Bill 214 to permanently grant the County of Orange the authority to establish a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) transportation plan in Rancho Mission Viejo.
“We can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Orange County with the increased use of neighborhood electric vehicles,” said Bates. “Given the information we have after years of study, it is time to make permanent the County’s authority to establish a NEV transportation plan for Rancho Mission Viejo.”
Rancho Mission Viejo is a long-time master planned sustainable community development and its residents are able to access work, shopping, dining and recreation opportunities using one of the state’s largest NEV transportation plans. NEVs are electric-powered vehicles, similar to a golf cart, designed for low-speed neighborhood use that can travel up to 25 mph. The vehicles provide an alternative to automobile travel within the community to reduce emissions and save energy.
The community has developed an extensive NEV infrastructure program to support multiple means of transportation, including a mix of shared NEV and bicycle lanes, slow-speed streets and off-street paths for NEVs.
In 2007, the Legislature passed SB 956, which contained a sunset provision and authorized Rancho Mission Viejo to develop a plan to support NEV usage within the community. Since the passage of SB 956, the Legislature has granted additional extensions to Rancho Mission Viejo to develop its NEV transportation plan and to report on its performance. Senator Bates’ SB 241 in 2015 extended the current sunset date to January 1, 2022.
According to the August 2020 report submitted to the Legislature, Rancho Mission Viejo’s NEV transportation plan has been successful at providing access and mobility for NEVs within the development. Additionally there have been no recorded safety or traffic problems with many people in the community using NEVs to get around.
The Senate has not yet set a date for a committee hearing on the bill.