Measure to Stop Street Harassment Clears California Legislature

(SACRAMENTO, CA) — California Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine)  announces that Senate Bill (SB) 434, a pivotal part of his legislative package this year, has passed out of both houses of the state Legislature and is on its way to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for his signature.

As Vice-Chair of the California Asian American & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus and a vocal advocate against Asian hate, Senator Min spearheaded SB 434 with Stop AAPI Hate to combat street harassment on California’s public transit systems. This legislation requires the state’s top 10 transit operators to collect and publish data on street harassment incidents, facilitating a more informed response to the safety concerns of riders.

“The numbers don’t lie. A staggering 77% of women experience sexual harassment in public spaces, and almost a third of that harassment occurs on mass transit,” said Senator Min. “Additionally, the AAPI community has seen a surge in hate incidents in public spaces, many occurring on our public transit systems. This bill seeks to shed light on these issues, ensure our public transportation systems are safe for everyone, and provide riders with the dignity they deserve.”

SB 434 mandates that the top 10 transit operators in the state gather and disclose survey data with the aim of enhancing rider safety and curbing street harassment on public transit. The measure places special emphasis on outreach initiatives, targeting specific groups such as women, non-English speakers, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and riders with disabilities, all of whom face a higher risk of street harassment. To promote transparency and prompt responsive measures, the collected data will be released to the public while ensuring the protection of individual identities.

“When your freedom to move from place to place is limited by the threat of street harassment, it shatters your sense of physical safety and emotional wellbeing and can even harm your livelihood,” said Cynthia Choi, Co-Founder of Stop AAPI Hate and Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. “No person should have to accept harassment as an inevitable experience when taking public transit. Solutions exist, but we need our leaders to prioritize and implement them. SB 434 would give power back to transit riders – to women, members of the LQBTQ+ community, to people of color, to everyone who faces harassment – by providing an avenue for victims and survivors to take action and be heard.”

“The research is clear: women, people of color, and individuals from LGBTQIA+ community experience disproportionate levels of verbal and physical harassment while riding public transit,” noted Michael Pimentel, Executive Director of the California Transit Association. “California’s transit agencies are committed to addressing this unfortunate truth through enhanced engagement with their riders and through the advancement of new evidence-based solutions. We see SB 434 as a central strategy in this work and as a critical step to ensuring the safety of all riders and welcoming our communities back to our systems.”

As SB 434 heads to the Governor’s desk, Senator Min remains optimistic about its potential impact. “Safety on public transit is not a privilege; it’s a right. I am hopeful Governor Newsom will recognize the urgency of this issue and sign SB 434 into law, affirming our commitment to a safer, more inclusive California for all.”