On Friday July 25, 2014 the County Council of Howard County, Maryland passed bill CB36-2014, which basically prohibits what EV drivers call ICEing at charging stations that have been designated with an official sign reserving the space exclusively for plug-in vehicles.
The bill was introduced by my county council representative, Jen Terrasa, and passed 4-0 with one council member recusing himself. When this bill goes into effect 61 days after enactment, it will mean that a vehicle that is not a plug-in that is parked at a charging station with an official parking control sign that conforms to applicable standards can be ticketed or towed in Howard County. The key part of this is that an official sign MUST be in place for the law to apply. As council member Terrasa pointed out during the vote, the decision is left up to the property owner whether they want to erect the signs to assign the parking spots as exclusive to plug-in vehicles and therefore make it enforceable.
Howard County wasted no time in putting up the required signs. The vote was on Friday afternoon and less than 24 hours later on Saturday, all the EV charging stations on County property had signs that read, “Electric Vehicles Charging Only” and many also had the parking spots painted green with “Electric Vehicle Charging Station” stenciled on the pavement. Perhaps the signs were previously planned and it was a coincidence or the county had an incredibly fast response in anticipation of the new law.
Passage of the bill is only the first stage. In order for the law to be effective, private property owners will have to be convinced to place official regulatory signs where ICEing is a problem. Without those signs, the law will be meaningless. I already have several sites in mind that could use signs to discourage ICEing.
Howard County is the second in the state of Maryland to pass such a law and the county has demonstrated leadership in initiatives to help the adoption of plug-in vehicles. Special thanks to District 3 Council Member Terrasa and her Special Assistant, Jamie Shopland, who worked diligently on this bill. I kept in contact with them throughout the drafting of the bill and when I saw language requiring that the vehicle be plugged in and actively charging, I pointed out the problems with that (as articulated by Plug In America, Chelsea Sexton and other EV advocates with California AB475) and the language was removed before the bill was introduced. I appreciate that responsiveness to our concerns.
There was a great turnout of EV drivers at the public comment session in front of the council. (here is a video of the testimony) And many people wrote letters of support to the council which demonstrates that there is a constituency that cares about issues involving plug-in electric vehicles.