SAN MATEO -- An audit will examine whether the state agency charged with regulating limousines like the one involved in the deadly San Mateo bridge fire is doing its job, a lawmaker said Wednesday.
State officials on Wednesday granted state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett's request for an audit of the California Public Utilities Commission's enforcement of state safety rules. The California State Auditor will also review the agency's books and report its finding publicly in the next several months, Corbett, D-San Leandro, said in a statement.
The issue of limo safety has come to the forefront since the May 4 blaze in a limo killed five women as they rode to a wedding party in Foster City. The bride, Neriza Fojas, 31, of Monterey, was among the dead.
Findings released this week by the California Highway Patrol showed the flames were sparked by friction in the 1999 Lincoln Town Car stretch limo. The car's steel drive shaft began scraping against the limo's metal floorboards after the rear suspension system failed.
In addition to looking at how the PUC spends fees collected from limo operators, the audit will also examine how much of the Passenger Charter-Party Carriers' Act the agency is enforcing, Corbett, said.
"This audit will delve into the CPUC's financial account that funds the oversight and regulation of limousines in our state," Corbett wrote in the statement. "We want to ensure that every dollar collected for limo safety in California is indeed going toward that end."
Corbett and state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, have proposed legislation intended to improve safety in the lightly regulated limo industry. Their bills call for emergency exits, fire extinguishers and safety inspections.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.