Supreme Court sides with ATA, overturns LA port parking, placard mandate

By Jill Dunn on
Port of Los Angeles
Port of Los Angeles

In a ruling awaited nationwide, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled federal law preempts the Port of Los Angeles’s parking and placard requirement.

The nation’s highest court issued the ruling after the American Trucking Association’s appealed last year’s federal ninth appeals court decision. Justice Elena Kagan, the court’s newest member, noted in her June 13 opinion that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act preempts these stipulations. The 1994 law prohibits state and local governments from enacting or enforcing any “law, regulation, or provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier.”

ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said he was “gratified” with the decision.

“Our position has always been that the port’s attempt to regulate drayage operators – in ways that had nothing to do with its efforts to improve air quality at the port – was inconsistent with Congress’ command that the trucking industry be shaped by market forces, rather than an incompatible patchwork of state and local regulations,” said Graves said. “The decision is sure to send a signal to any other cities who may have been considering similar programs which would impermissibly regulate the port trucking industry.”

The court did not decide if the port could use other portions of the agreement to punish violations and returned that issue to the ninth circuit to decide.

In 2008, the port began its Clean Trucks Program, which required trucking companies regularly serving the port sign concessionaire agreements. It stipulated trucks have a placard with a phone number for reporting environmental or safety concerns and companies submit off-street parking plans for every truck not in service.

The association originally sued POLA in U.S. district court, but the judge agreed with the port that the requirements are not preempted by the FAAAA.  Later, the ninth circuit overturned the employee-driver provision, but affirmed the remainder of the lower court’s ruling.

On both coasts, officials in several ports investigated the LA program, but had stated they were delaying further pursuit of it until the Supreme Court issued an opinion.

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