EV Owners Have Long Wait at Charging Station Where Man Was Arrested

A man accusing Santa Monica police of using excessive force during his arrest at a park said he had waited more than an hour for a turn at using an electric vehicle charging station before officers approached him.

Justin Palmer said he is not allowed to charge his electric car at his apartment complex, so he waited about an hour and a half for a charger to become available at Virginia Avenue Park. By the time he got a spot, it was nearly 11 p.m., which is when the parking lot closes.

The father of four claims he was roughed up by police and arrested for being in the park after hours on April 21. He does admit he refused to show his ID to the officers during the confrontation.

"I couldn't believe this happened over just trying to plug in my car," Palmer said.

The incident was recorded on video by a bystander who heard the scuffle and became concerned

No charges have been filed against Palmer. He has filed a claim against Santa Monica.

Kelly Olson, one of the nation's top advocates for electric vehicles and a former Santa Monica City councilman, said he wants the city to make the public chargers available 24 hours a day.

Olson says he's asked to meet with city officials to clear up ambiguity over when the chargers are available for use.

"It's an unfortunate situation, shouldn't have happened and wouldn't have happened if staff had met with us and come up with reasonable guidelines," Olson said of the arrest.

Santa Monica has more electric charging stations than most other cities in Southern California. But city officials say there are a lot more electric cars here and about 70 percent of residents live in apartments where they can't charge - so the demand for public chargers here is far greater.

Some Santa Monica residents say there aren't enough charging stations in their city.

Throughout the day, drivers of electric cars arrived at Virginia Avenue Park vying for a turn to use one of four electric vehicle chargers. There's was nearly always a wait.

"City of Santa Monica is doing a great job of getting these out there - even though they need more - but they're doing a terrible job at having rules that make them easy to use," Olson said.

Dean Kubani, who heads Santa Monica's Office of Sustainability, says the city is working to build infrastructure to keep up with demand. Twenty-two new chargers will soon be installed at public parks, but the city may consider installing pay-per-charge machines. The policy decisions will be decided by the City Council.

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