In the ARB’s Draft 2022 Scoping Plan Update, the word
“vehicle” is used 255 times and the word
“parking” only once.
To remedy this neglect, the Plan should
recommend enforcing California’s parking cash-out law as a way to reduce vehicle
miles travelled and carbon emissions. The Air Resources Board is the agency
authorized by the Legislature to interpret and administer the
parking cash-out law.
parking cash-out law requires employers of 50 or more
employees to offer commuters the option to take the cash value of
any parking subsidy offered if they don’t take the parking
subsidy (Section 43845 of the California Health
and Safety Code).
Because the law applies only to parking spaces that employers rent
rather than own, the employer saves on paying for the parking space
if a commuter takes the cash. The law requires regulated employers
who offer free parking at work to treat all commuters equally,
regardless of how they get to work.
Parking cash out has two great
advantages as a way to reduce vehicle travel and carbon emissions:
efficiency and equity.
Efficiency. Case studies of employers who began to offer parking cash
out found that vehicle travel to work fell by 652 VMT per employee
per year. Carbon
emissions fell by 800 pounds per employee per year (see
pages 66–67 in Parking Cash Out). Compliance with California’s
parking cash-out law provides many benefits at almost no
Equity. Parking cash out is a valuable fringe benefit mandated by
state law. Failure to offer parking cash out thus denies transit
riders a commuting subsidy, and most transit riders are people of
color and poor. For example, 91% of LA Metro’s bus riders are people of color
and their median household income is $15,600 per year. Some of
these bus riders must be offered free parking at work but do not
take it. One recent study found that in Southern California less
than 1% of employers with more than 250 employees offer parking
cash out. Parking cash out prevents any unintended bias in
The Air Resources Board is responsible
for enforcing the cash-out law, and it has published an excellent
guide for employers. In 2002, California’s Legislative
Analyst audited the ARB’s treatment of the
cash-out law and recommended the ARB should enforce it. The ARB did
not follow this recommendation. Disappointed that the ARB had not
enforced the law, in 2012 the Legislature amended the cash-out law
to give the ARB the authority to establish a penalty for violators.
The ARB has not done so.
As a start toward enforcement, the Air
Resources Board could begin by asking all employers of more than 50
people a simple question: “Does this firm comply with §
43845 of the California Health and Safety Code? □ Yes □
question would be easy for employers to answer because they can log
onto the Air Resources Board’s website to check their
compliance at this link:
Asking employers whether they comply with the cash-out law
is reasonable because failure to comply denies a state-required
fringe benefit to employees who do not drive to work—most of
whom are people of color and poor.
If being asked this question leads
employers to comply with the law, it will reduce traffic
congestion, air pollution, fuel consumption, and carbon emissions.
At the very least, this proposed question will provide information
on how many employers comply with the parking cash-out