California 'Waymo' bill aims to give cities more authority over self-driving car companies

A bill aimed at granting California cities increased authority over self-driving car companies is gaining momentum statewide. This move comes amidst the expansion of services by autonomous vehicle giant Waymo into San Mateo County. 

Earlier this month, Waymo received approval from state regulators to extend its services beyond San Francisco into San Mateo County and suburban areas of Los Angeles. 

Following this, the cities of Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Mateo County have advocated for the passing of a state bill that would grant cities more control over the operations of companies like Waymo on local streets.

Currently, the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the Public Utilities Commission are the primary bodies responsible for granting companies like Waymo permission to operate. 

California Senate Bill 915 proposes to empower cities to issue their own local permits for self-driving car companies. 

Additionally, it would enable local governments to impose limitations on the number of self-driving cars allowed to operate simultaneously and establish operational regulations.

Moreover, cities and counties would be authorized to impose fees or service charges to fund the enforcement of their local regulations. 

The bill, sponsored by State Senator Dave Cortese of San Jose, has garnered support from various local transportation agencies, local Teamsters unions, and U.S. Senate candidate Adam Schiff.

Currently, the bill is under review by the Senate Local Government Committee, with no scheduled hearing date announced yet.