By Lookout Staff
June 9, 2009 – The City of Santa Monica dropped licensing charges against a local entrepreneur who was selling and retrofitting electric cars from his garage without a license, the City Attorneys office announced Tuesday.
The City asked the court to dismiss the charges against Paul Pearson, who owns Wild Electric Custom Cars, after he finally applied for a City business license and resolved his California Department of Motor Vehicles citation.
“We strongly encourage green technology, but you still have to play by the rules,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades. “These are big-ticket items. Businesses at least need to be properly licensed or else you’re operating like the Wild West.”
Pearson had attacked City officials in the press after they filed charges last December, claiming they were unfair and anti-green. He finally applied for his business license on May 15, two days after the court commissioner warned that no further postponements would be granted, City officials said.
The DMV cited Pearson last December after officials learned that his website offered to manufacture electric cars for consumers and to retrofit vehicles, Rhoades said.
An inspection of Pearson’s garage -- which had drawn complaints from neighbors -- and his offer to convert a car to electric for $18,000 led to the citation.
The City’s Police and Code Compliance departments responded to the complaints and found that Pearson was operating a business without a business license and operating a garage in an area not zoned for such a business, Rhoades said.
After the DMV referred the charges to the City Attorney for prosecution, the City’s Consumer Protection Unit took Pearson to court.
Under the Tuesday’s agreement, Pearson will not manufacture and sell vehicles without a State license. But he will be allowed to retrofit vehicles after the DMV changed its policy last month and stated that the retrofitting of cars no longer required a state license.
“Santa Monica is a known leader in promoting and using alternative energy, including our own fleet of electric vehicles,” Rhoades said. “The last thing we want to do is hinder the development of electric cars.
“However, the City is also committed to protecting consumer rights,” Rhoades added. “This is extra-important in new areas like alternative energy where people know less about the businesses.”