Obscure California law says workers are owed cash bonus if they give up company parking

Free parking at work, or cash in your pocket?

In a bid to encourage commuters to leave the car at home and instead car pool, ride public transit or bike to work, a 1992 state law requires some employers to pay a stipend to people who do not use their company-provided parking space.

Problem is, not many people know about it. Statewide, only Santa Monica enforces the law. And not that many people are eligible.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council's Transportation Committee will consider better implementation and enforcement of the law in hopes of relieving traffic congestion.

Studies show that free parking encourages people to drive to work alone, said city councilwoman Wendy Greuel, the committee chairwoman.

Under the parking cash-out program, employers must pay a stipend equal to the cost of a parking space to workers who opt against driving to the office.

The law covers public and private employers that have at least 50 employees and that offer free parking in a leased lot, reports AP.

However, most free parking spaces are exempt because they are employer-owned, and only about 3 percent or an estimated 290,000 of the state's 11 million employer-paid parking spaces are subject to the law, according to a 2002 report by the state legislative analyst's office.