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Charged Up to Drive and Shop Beverly Hills

The city installs electric vehicle charging stations throughout the business district and at La Cienega Park.

The last time you were in the city-owned parking structures, you might have noticed something new: . Beverly Hills has 26 of them in structures all over the city, from to Bedford Drive on the west with many more in between.

Because of a grant, the chargers were free to the city and charging is free to customers.

Chad Lynn, Beverly Hills director of parking sat down with Patch to explain some of the particulars.

According to Lynn, the city "elected not to charge for the connection because the city is not paying for any of the hosting, communication, maintenance or operating fees of these charging stations until the grant expires in January 2014." He mentioned that at the moment, the city isn't aggressively enforcing the EV-only parking until explicit signage is in place for all spaces.

Lynn explained that under California law electric-vehicle drivers with handicapped parking placards are not allowed to park in an EV space unless their car is charging. Similarly, electric vehicles without handicapped placards can be cited and towed for parking in an EV space if they aren't using the chargers. 

The four spaces in the  are equipped with two J1772 rapid chargers, which is the standard rapid charger developed by GM and used by all newer plug-in cars, as well as a standard outlet-friendly Nema 5-20 for use with on-board car chargers so that two EVs can use the same charging portal.

Charging is simple. A motorist signs up for a card at ChargePoint.net. Then place the card against the face of the charger to authorize and unlock it, and the car is now ready to be plugged in. The GM Volt I was driving got a little more than a 50 percent charge from a two-hour park at the parking garage on North Beverly Drive.

The ChargePoint app for iPhones shows where network chargers are, but curiously isn't completely accurate. It only lists one of the chargers at the library lot, and none at all at the new Crescent Drive lot.

A look at the latest iPhone apps that show charging stations such as Recargo, which lists all available reported by users, ChargePoint and Blink, which report on their proprietary networks, shows that Beverly Hills is far ahead of other cities in terms of the number of available chargers.

Santa Monica Place has four J1772/Nema 5-20 machines for a total of eight spaces, and there's a single J1772 public rapid charger on Montana Avenue at 11th Street.

Malibu Country Mart has a single rapid charger that's free and doesn't need a network card for access.

Century City Mall has six, but they are not available to the public since they are contracted to Coda Motors for their tester cars, and the Grove has six rapid chargers on the Blink network.

Recargo shows stations in West Hollywood, but they are listed as being offline due to vandalism or using the old-style paddle inductive chargers, which are useless to newer electric vehicles.

There are other stations in office buildings and hotels, but Beverly Hills is leading the way to lure EV-driving shoppers, diners and tourists.

"With one of the largest solar panel installations in the State and more EV charging stations than most every city, we have quite a lot to be proud of," former Mayor Barry Brucker, under whose term the stations were installed, stated in an email.

"The city of Beverly Hills won an award from the Southern California Association of Governments and Southern California Edison for our PEV program in the city," Mayor William Brien added. "We are proud to have received this award for our infrastructure program in our parking lots, in particular our Crescent Drive lot and for our program for Home PEV infrastructure. The city’s focus on PEV makes us a leader in this green technology."

Beverly Hills Board of Education President Brian Goldberg noted via email that "we will look at putting in [charge stations] as part of our Measure E plans through our [Leadership in Eenergy and Environmental Design] certification plans. No concrete plans are approved yet, but I will be supporting including this in any plans at the high school and parking at [Horace Mann School] and Hawthorne Elementary."

Leaf, Volt, Prius plug-in, Tesla, Coda, Focus Electric, smart e-drive, Miev, Mini E or Fisker owners will find Beverly Hills to be a welcoming destination.

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