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Committee forwards Mayor’s dockless scooter regulations to full City Council

The San Diego Active Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (ATIC) meeting on dockless scooters came and went Feb. 20 without even a mention of City Council member Barbara Bry’s recommended regulations. Instead, the committee voted unanimously to forward Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s recommendations — with amendments — to the full City Council at a date to be determined.

Bry issued her recommendations the week before Faulconer by way of a memo to ATIC chair and City Council member Mark Kersey.

Kersey’s representatives did not answer why Bry’s recommendations were not heard, but told La Jolla Light: “every Council member will have the opportunity to weigh in” when it is heard at the full Council.

In speaking with the Light the day after the hearing, Bry said she had not yet read the full text, including what amendments were suggested, but once she reads the version that will go before the Council, she will decide what, if any, suggested amendments she would make.

The Feb. 20 meeting opened with Mayoral representative Greg Block outlining the Mayor’s plan, followed by comments from those on both sides of the issue for almost an hour.

Faulconer’s regulations cover six primary areas: limiting maximum speed of motorized scooters in designated zones, vehicle staging and parking, rider education, data sharing, fees and legal indemnification for the City of San Diego.

Speed: Companies would be required to restrict vehicle speeds using geo-fencing technology in designated zones to 8 miles an hour in the following areas: the boardwalks in Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla, as well as Spanish Landing and Petco, Balboa, Mission Bay and NTC parks. In the North Embarcadero and Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade, dockless bikes and scooters would be slowed to 3 miles an hour, with riders receiving alerts that those areas are “no-ride zones.”

Parking: Riders will also be prevented from ending rides in certain high-traffic areas, including on the boardwalks, around Petco Park and the Embarcadero in downtown. Those working for dockless bike and scooter companies will also be restricted in where they can set up the vehicles. The devices must be staged in groups of no more than four and at least 40 feet apart.

The devices cannot be parked within 500 feet of K-12 public schools or hospitals, or within six feet of bus and trolley stops. Residents would be encouraged to report improperly parked or abandoned vehicles using the city’s “Get It Done” app. Dockless scooter and bike companies will be notified as a result and given three hours to move a device or face impound and other fees.

Fees: Companies would be required to obtain operating permits every six months in January and June, which declare and fix the size of each vehicle fleet. Companies would have to pay associated fees to be established by the City Council. The mayor has proposed $253 a permit and up to $150 per device annually.

Block said these fees would act as a “de-facto cap” on the number of scooters and has been calculated based on amounts other cities are imposing. Those scooters illegally parked and reported could be impounded, and the Mayor’s regulations suggest a $65 retrieval fee, and $1 per day fee for storage of impounded devices.

Education: Motorized scooters must be labeled in 40-point font that “Riding on Sidewalks is Prohibited,” as well as any age requirements adopted by the operator.

Data: Operators would be required to share data on fleet sizes, how often devices are used, trips and parking locations, accidents and maintenance.

City Indemnification: Each operator will be required to indemnify the City from liability claims and each will need to hold a liability insurance policy.

Many of the speakers in favor of the regulations represented the scooter companies — most donning their company shirts. Among their minor objections were the fee structure proposed.

In the organized presentation against the regulations, Jonathan Freeman called the regulations “window dressing” and said the scooter reps “gloated” because the recommendations were favorable to the scooter companies.

Freeman added the regulations do not adequately address misuse of scooters and that, “We have time to come up with better alternatives to problems that affect thousands of residents.”

After public testimony and Council questions, ATIC acknowledged the regulations “would be cleaned up” before it goes to the full City Council for a vote. A motion to forward with recommendation for full Council for approval with a series of amendments passed unanimously. <end_bug_diamond>

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