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New year brings new laws

Trans fats for cooking are out, and the city can pursue restitution from vandals.

January 02, 2010|By Veronica Rocha

This year, government agencies can better recover costs from vandals, restaurants may no longer use trans fats in cooking, and authorities can impound vehicles used for illegal dumping and prostitution.

These are just a few of the new laws that started Friday.

California Assembly Bill 576 defines local government agencies, including Burbank and Glendale, as “victims,” allowing them to seek restitution for damages committed by convicted vandals charged with graffiti.

Parents can be held responsible for up to $25,000 in vandalism damages committed by their children; Glendale has pursued such cases for restitution.

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Another law allows police to impound vehicles for up to 30 days if they were used to commit prostitution or illegal dump commercial waste on roads.

But the vehicles may be impounded only if the owner or driver has been convicted of those crimes in the past three years.

Cities can declare vehicles used for illegal dumping a public nuisance in order to impound them, officials said.

Also starting this year, May 22 will officially be recognized as Harvey Milk Day.

Under Senate Bill 572, schools can honor the birthday of Milk — the openly gay San Francisco County supervisor who was shot and killed — and his contributions to California.

Burbank and Glendale Unified school districts officials said they would allow teachers to determine whether they will teach students about Milk’s life that day, but there are no plans to officially recognize it districtwide.

The new year also brings healthier menus for California restaurants, as the state has become the first nationwide to ban trans fat from eateries.

Restaurants may not serve foods cooked in margarine, oil and shortening containing trans fat, which, studies show, lead to heart disease.

Bakeries get another year to comply with the law, which Schwarzenegger signed in 2008.

Porto’s Bakery in Glendale and Burbank started moving away from trans fat in the past year, co-owner Raul Porto said.

“We have known about this for years,” he said. “It is just a deadline, but for us, it happened many months ago. For over a year, we have already made those changes.”

The bakery uses mostly butter in their cooking, but has changed oils for certain fried foods, Porto said.

“The majority of the stuff that we use, we really didn’t have to change,” he said.


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