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Sunday December 24, 2017 – Blocked Chargers – It's been a while since I had a good rant but this passed week I have been plagued with blocked charges so I thought it might be time to bring this up again.
It started with a trip to the mall a week ago. I went to Westfield's Century City Shopping center to have lunch and cruise the mall. I stopped by the charging station there and I noticed that all the chargers were occupied and there was a Prius Prime that looked like the driver was waiting for someone to move. I also noticed that Mall security were there too taking photographs. I think that Mall security leave notes on the cars that are not charging but there is no consequences so people continue the bad behaviour.
I parked and walked over to the chargers and noticed that while all 6 charging bays were occupied only 2 vehicles were actually charging, a Fiat 500e and a Volt. I find it difficult to understand why someone driving an EV would block a charger if they didn't intend to charge, I'm sure they would be mad as hell if they wanted to charge and someone else was blocking the charger. Having said that, the parking spaces are marked "Electric Vehicle Parking Only" so it is easy to justify parking there since there is no signage that says that you must be connected for charging purposes. Now, there are a lot of parking spaces in that same area marked as reserved for low emission vehicles but they are not policed so everyone treats them like regular spaces and parks there.
The good news is that as part of the remodel that is in progress at the Mall they are going to add another 10 to 12 charging bays. The bays are already wired for the chargers and signs are up but the chargers haven't been installed yet.
After lunch I stopped by the Beverly Hills Public Library to try and get a charge there. Three of the parking spaces were in use but the fourth was blocked by an EV which is a very common problem at this location. These parking spaces are marked as electric vehicle charging spaces and there are signs saying they will ticket of car not connected for charging' but this is never enforced so people just ignore the signs. The result was that I didn't have enough charge to make it home and had to run the gas engine for a while.
This weekend I took a trip out to Temecula and I had mixed experience with chargers. When I got there I went to get lunch in Old town. They have 4 chargers there, two in a parking lot at one end and two at the civic center a block away from the main street. The first set of chargers were both in use but the second set were both free and I was able to get some charge while I ate lunch. There is also an EVGo fast charger in one of the lots and that was available too, but my Prius plug-in doesn't support fast charging.
In the evening I drove down to the Pechanga Hotel and Casino. They have 10 chargers there. 8 of them were in use but 2 were blocked, one by a Tesla, and one ICEd by a Prius C. The result was that I once again ran out of charge before I got back to my hotel, which doesn't have charging anyway. People would not think about parking in front of a pump in the gas station while they went off and watched a movie so why do they think it is OK to leave their car blocking an EV charging station. I went back there this lunchtime and had my choice of 4 charging bays. Of the six occupied bays only one other car was actively charging. Four of the cars were fully charged and one was not plugged in at all.
The only place I know here in Southern California that actually has rules for using their chargers that are enforced on a regular basis is Santa Monica. The charging spaces there are clearly marked for electric vehicle charging only and if you are parked at a charger and do not plugged in you will get a ticket. They don't have a rule about lurking at the chargers if you are fully charged, which is difficult to enforce, instead they have a 4 hour maximum stay. This is enough for most cars to get enough charge to make it home.
I keep saying this but if we are going to make electric cars work it's not enough just to scatter chargers around and hope for the best. Cities need to set up rules that will prevent people from blocking chargers and most importantly these rules need to be enforced. I would also like to see charging bays at hotels like they have at Perchanga. For the most part all that is needed is level 1 charging which would be a nice perk for guests without being too expensive to set up or use. Most people could get a good enough charge with level 1 charging while they slept.
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