Audience members and trustees alike angrily rejected a City-proposed map of scooter corral sites in The Village presented at the June 13 La Jolla Town Council (LJTC) meeting by District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry representative Mauricio Medina.
Scooter corrals — officially called micro-mobility corrals since they’re also intended for bikes and other dockless vehicles — are drop-off/pick-up areas located on City streets alongside red curbs, not in full-size parking spaces. The City proposed 158 of them for The Village as a solution to the wanton discarding of dockless vehicles on public streets and sidewalks in front of their last rider’s destination.
The City requested community feedback by June 24, and LJTC’s couldn’t be clearer. It passed a resolution calling the number and siting of the scooter corrals “unworkable and flawed.”
The vote was 7-1-0 (with LJTC trustee Gail Forbes opposing).
But LJTC isn’t an official City advisory group, so its resolution will be forwarded to the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation board (T&T), the La Jolla Community Planning Association (CPA) subcommittee that advises the City on traffic matters. (T&T will hear the issue at its next meeting, 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 19 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.)
Following a presentation in which he explained the justification for the corrals, Medina was besieged by complaints.
“I’m not sure how you can say with a straight face that (the corrals) have been a success downtown,” La Jolla resident Craig Thompson said. “In all honesty, it looks like an unmitigated disaster. Most of the zones have no scooters in them. They’re still staged on the sidewalks. There’s no incentive for people to use the (corrals). There’s no enforcement.”
Added La Jolla resident Cynthia Chasen: “Do we need eight of them within a quarter block on Eads?”
Many of the objections weren’t to the corrals specifically, but to dockless scooters in general.
“What I simply can’t understand is a profit-making business being allowed to take over public streets when every other profit-making business has to go out and rent a location in which to store their products,” said La Jolla resident Darlee Crockett. “The community is very suspicious. Where is the money coming from? Who is being supported to allow this kind of thing to happen?”
LJTC trustee Cody Petterson added: “These are being sold to the public as a form of last-mile transportation, but they are not being used that way. Eighty percent are being used for recreation.” Petterson also noted how energy-consumptive they are: “They last about three months on the street, so every year you have to produce four of them. Then you have to have to have a car drive around and pick them up, so there’s all those emissions.”
“These are not even sustainable from an emissions perspective,” he said. “The idea that this recreational vehicle that’s not sustainable is commandeering public space is really pretty remarkable to me.”
Medina was characteristically polite but stood his ground.
“I’m going to have to push back here,” he said. “Did Council member (Bry) want to allow scooters to be dropped off wherever they are? That would not have been her first choice. But there’s a political reality in City Council. You’ve got to get five of nine votes. We tried to ban them from the boardwalks last year and, not to sugarcoat it, but it was a disaster. Only two people voted yes and now, I’m sure residents of Mission Beach can testify just how bad it is on the boardwalks right now.”
Medina explained how, following a May 29 meeting at Panikin Coffee & Tea with representatives from LJTC, CPA, La Jolla Parks & Beaches and the La Jolla Village Merchants Association, he decided to recommend an amended scooter-corral map to the City with 22 residential corrals removed.
Finally, Medina prompted laughter from the audience when he said: “It’s very important to note that this is all the Mayor’s plan.”
While brainstorming the resolution, LJTC president Ann Kerr Bache clarified that her organization is not opposed to dockless scooters.
“It needs to be regulated a little bit better,” she said. “The locations have to be better. We have to stop impacting residential areas, and maybe look into getting some more revenue.”
T&T chair Dave Abrams was in the audience during the meeting, taking notes. Afterward, the Light asked if he looked forward to moderating the scooter squall at his board’s next meeting.
“I can handle it,” he said, laughing. “You have to remember, I was president of the CPA back when things were really contentious.”
More LaMattery battery
Real-estate agent James LaMattery delivered the lecture against Senate bills SB 330 and SB 50 that has now become familiar to community-group regulars. (He delivered the same lecture at the Jan. 9 La Jolla Shores Association, the May 9 LJTC and the June 4 Bird Rock Community Council meetings.)
This time, however, LaMattery was rebutted by State Senator Toni Atkins representative Chevelle Tate, who took issue with most of LaMattery’s interpretations while seated next to him.
“Make sure you take a look at what ‘suspends’ means,” Tate said, referring to LaMattery’s assertion that the bills will suspend La Jolla’s 30-foot height limit, voted in by Proposition D in 1972. Tate allowed that the bills “do make it a little easier to build, but the height limit is still in place.”
LaMattery replied: “The Coastal Commission does not protect height limits. The only thing protecting the height limit is Prop D. What SB 330 does is take that away from us.”
The two opponents politely refuted each other’s assertions for 10 minutes before Kerr Bache cut them off.
Also at Town Council …
Festivals approved: LJTC approved a request for temporary street closures and No Parking on Draper Avenue (between Kline and Silverado streets) for the 6th annual La Jolla Presbyterian Church Harvest Festival on Sunday, Nov. 3. It also approved a request by the San Diego Sports Medicine Foundation for temporary No Parking on Coast Boulevard, adjacent to Scripps Park, for the 17th annual Taste at the Cove on Thursday, Sept. 5.
— La Jolla Town Council next meets 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollatowncouncil.org