A brand new state bill that got its start in the East County could change the California Vehicle Code to outlaw standing in the center divider on streets and roads. NBC 7's Steven Luke reports.
A new bill that aims to clear out center medians, and make intersections safer got its start in San Diego.
If approved by state lawmakers, SB 604 could change the California Vehicle Code to outlaw something drivers see every day – people standing in the center median on public streets.
Silas Cochran works one La Jolla intersection several times a week.
With a sign and worn out shoes - he walks up and down the median hoping drivers will spare a few dollars.
“I don’t want to become a regular out here,” Cochran said. “It's embarrassing,"
If the proposed legislation becomes law, hanging out in the center divider could soon become a violation of the law.
La Mesa Police Chief Ed Aceves calls the practice a big problem with people crossing illegally or against the lights.
“It’s not necessarily specifically targeting people pan handling it’s about safety." said Aceves.
With support from the City Council law enforcement authorities worked with State Senator Joel Anderson who authored the bill last month.
While homeless and civil rights activists figure to put up the biggest fight, Aceves says it really is about safety.
"When you have pedestrians in the center median with signs, we have some doing magic tricks, it's distracting the drivers and taking their attention away from the roadway."
For panhandlers like Cochran the sidewalk is bad business.
"I've stood over there, I've never made a dollar over there," he said.
In the center median, he's at the driver’s side window and not delaying traffic as drivers turn right on a red.
The bill could also impact firefighters who use the median for boot drive fundraisers like those who took part in last week's "Fill the Boot for the Burn Institute."
"We'll probably strike a balance with this whole issue, we're very supportive of our fire department, we'll figure something out to make it work."
The bill gets pitched in Sacramento on April 16. If eventually approved it could become a law on January 1, 2014.