Santa Monica resident Paul Pearson was facing several charges after an elaborate police sting of his home-based Wild Electric Custom Car business but now these charges have been dropped.
Pearson had been building electric cars and converting gasoline powered cars to all electric power in an office building garage 100 feet from his Ocean Park home which was not City zoned for automotive construction or welding.
Back in December 2008 Pearson was charged with a misdemeanor citation for violating a California vehicle code which prohibits the remanufacture of cars without a state license and for failing to obtain a business license from the City of Santa Monica. The City dropped the charges on June 9 after Pearson agreed to apply for a business license and not to engage in the manufacture or sale of vehicles without obtaining the appropriate state license from the DMV.
City Attorney Gary Rhoades told the Mirror that another reason the DMV charges were dropped was that in May 2009 the DMV changed their interpretation of what car manufacture or remanufacture meant. Originally, this referred to a car retrofit and now it does not.
In a press release on the case Rhoades stated, “Santa Monica is a known leader to promoting and using alternative energy, including our own fleet of electric vehicles. The last thing we want to do is hinder the development of electric cars. However, the City is also committed to protecting consumer rights. This is extra-important in new areas like alternative energy where people know less about the businesses. These are big-ticket items. Businesses at least need to be properly licensed or else you’re operating like the Wild West.”
In an interview with the Mirror, Pearson mentioned that he had appeared in court six times to refute the charges and his legal fees were $5,500 because his lawyers did not charge for all his court appearances. He also mentioned that a half hour documentary titled Government versus Green by Andrew Capaletti was made about his case. The documentary was shown at the Santa Monica Main Library on June 6 to about 50 people. Some of those people then wrote letters to City Attorney Marsha Moutrie to request that the charges against him be dismissed.
Pearson believes “electric cars are the future” and recently rented a building in Van Nuys so he can build a prototype of an all-electric Ford Ranger. He has forgiven the City for what happened to him and hopes “Santa Monica will be his first customer.” Pearson is also working with DMV officials to obtain “a manufacturing license to branch into other forms of electric car construction.”