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Newsom signs bill decriminalizing most jaywalking in California

California lawmakers pass flurry of bills in closing days of 2022 session
California lawmakers pass flurry of bills in closing days of 2022 session 00:34

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law a measure from a Bay Area lawmaker that would decriminalize jaywalking in most cases.

On Friday, Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2147 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), which the author has dubbed "The Freedom to Walk Act."

AB2147 lets pedestrians cross the street outside of an intersection when it's safe to do so. It also limits when officers can stop a pedestrian for jaywalking to situations where there is an immediate danger of a collision.

"It should not be a criminal offense to safely cross the street," Ting said in a statement. "When expensive tickets and unnecessary confrontations with police impact only certain communities, it's time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians."

Ting said jaywalking laws, which were implemented in the 1930s due to the rise of automobiles, are arbitrarily enforced and tickets are disproportionately given to people of color and in low-income communities. His office cited a study of California Racial and Identity Profiling Act data showing Black residents are stopped 4.5 times more for jaywalking than their White counterparts.

The assemblymember noted police encounters that have started as jaywalking stops have turned deadly, including the 2018 death of Chinedu Okobi, who died during an encounter with San Mateo County Sheriff's Deputies in Millbrae. Prosecutors cleared the deputies of criminal charges.

"No longer will law enforcement be able to stop people who are safely crossing the street and burden them with citations and heaps of debt. For too long, our jaywalking laws were used as a pretext to stop and harass people, especially low-income people and people of color," said Zal Shroff of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area

A similar measure introduced by Ting last year passed the legislature and was vetoed by Newsom.

Ting's bill was among several transportation-related measures signed by Newsom in recent days, including a measure to fast track climate friendly transportation projects and a measure to eliminate parking requirements for buildings near transit

AB2147 goes into effect on January 1, 2023.

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