On June 23, 2003 Carb issued an order stating that all bikes must have a road emission sticker in order to get a license. Due to the hue and cry of the motorcycle community they delayed implementation to 1/1/2004.
The order has never been rescinded. I don't how you guys are getting your plates, except DMV does get things screwed up. Good for you, just don't count it applying to everyone.
BMW Motorrad USA customer service: "We make superior motorcycles and continue to improve them."