The Will To Over-Regulate: Inside California Legislatures Fight for Local Control over Autonomous Vehicles - The Road to Autonomy

The Will To Over-Regulate: Inside California Legislators Fight for Local Control over Autonomous Vehicles

Adam Kovacevich, Founder & CEO, Chamber of Progress joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discuss the regulatory environment for autonomous vehicles in California and what impact if passed, local control would have on the deployment on AVs in California.

The conversation begins with Adam discussing why autonomous vehicles are so divisive in California. Today, there is a divide between the entrenched “status quo” and the residents of California that are excited to use autonomous vehicles on a daily basis.

In someways this is such a threat to the status quo that unfortunately city leaders in both LA and San Francisco have resisted.

– Adam Kovacevich, Founder and CEO, Chamber of Progress

Phoenix is taking the opposite approach of both LA and San Francisco. The city and the greater Phoenix metro region have welcomed autonomous vehicles into their communities with great success. Waymo vehicles operating in the region do not get high, they do not get distracted and the do not drive drunk. Yet, when the positive benefits are presented to officials in California, they do not want to hear it.

I would like to think that Los Angeles will ultimately be one of the great markets in the world for autonomous vehicles, just because the car is so central to LA.

– Adam Kovacevich, Founder and CEO, Chamber of Progress

While LA could ultimately be one of the great markets for autonomous vehicles, legislators in the State Assembly and State Senate are actively working to pass regulations that would effectively ban autonomous vehicles in California. If autonomous vehicles are essentially banned in California, the state’s economy would ultimately suffer from an economic downturn.

One of the ways that clever legislators are trying to ban autonomous vehicles is by passing legislation that would give local municipalities regulatory control over autonomous vehicles. Each municipality would have its own set of regulations, and perhaps even their own DMV to enforce the regulations. If signed into law, the local control over autonomous vehicles bill would be an effective ban on autonomous vehicles in the State of California.

Could you image if this proposed local control law was applied to drivers? If you wanted to drive to the beach from Downtown LA, you would pass through Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica all before ending up in Malibu. Five different cities, five potentially different sets of regulations. What if one of those cities decided they only wanted residents to drive in that city? You could potentially blocked from reaching the beach. Would this violate the California Coastal Act in some form or fashion?

What is being proposed is not realistic. It’s being driven by special interests that want to see autonomous vehicles banned in the state. This is not about the citizens of the state or residents of the cities were autonomous vehicles operate, this is about control and appeasing special interests.

It’s not practically about local control, it’s really effectively a ban.

– Adam Kovacevich, Founder and CEO, Chamber of Progress

If the local control bill is passed, signed into law and autonomous vehicles are effectively banned in California, the business exodus from the state would further accelerate. Businesses want to operate in a regulatory environment that is predictable, manageable and stable.

Wrapping up the conversation, Adam and Grayson discuss what it would look like if autonomous vehicles were regulated at the federal level.

Recorded on Friday, March 29, 2024

Episode Chapters

  • 0:11 Why Autonomous vehicles are divisive in California
  • 4:20 Benefits of Autonomous Vehicles
  • 7:41 Pending Autonomous Vehicle Legislation in California
  • 19:55 Business Exodus from California
  • 28:33 Developing Public Trust in Autonomous Vehicles
  • 34:11 Federal Regulation of Autonomous Vehicles

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