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La Jolla Community Planners vote to ‘phase in’ scooter corrals, will ask City for 40 locations

scooters-little-italy.jpg
A scooter corral in Little Italy, similar to those the City would like to install in La Jolla
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

At perhaps the most rancorous meeting of the year, the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) took up potential scooter corral locations in The Village during its July 18 meeting at the La Jolla Rec Center — ultimately voting down the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation (T&T) advisory group’s list of 81 locations in favor of a list of 40, with some heavy conditions.

San Diego City staff sought community feedback on locations for these corrals, which are painted-on 10-foot-by-six-foot squares on the street, typically fronting red zones, for the staging of electric scooters. New citywide electric scooter regulations and corrals in other San Diego communities went into effect July 1, but District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry’s rep Mauricio Medina said the City had committed to not installing any corrals in La Jolla until the LJCPA made a decision about locations during its July 18 meeting.

To determine these candidate locations, Medina explained, City staff collected data from electric scooter providers with “hot spots” of where companies were staging the devices and where they were seeing large amounts of drop-offs. Staff took this data, found red zones that do not front fire hydrants nearby, and suggested locations accordingly. A master list of 150 locations in La Jolla was sent to the City Council, but after meeting with representatives from local community advisory groups, the list was reduced to about 81.

Local groups that have weighed in include the La Jolla Town Council, which voted to reject the list the City proposed; the La Jolla’s T&T board, which voted to pass a list of 81 locations to the City; the La Jolla Recreation Advisory Group, which voted to support the one location next to the Rec Center; and La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group, which did not take a vote.

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The final list was distributed to LJCPA for ratification.

Medina explained, “City staff’s intention is to require operators to stage their devices in those corrals. If there is a corral on the street, operators will be required to stage in the corral. If there is no corral, they must stage in accordance with the 4-by-40 rule in which devices are staged in groups of four, with groups 40 feet apart.”

And though he attempted repeatedly to keep the focus solely on candidate locations for corrals, pleading, “we don’t want to slide the conversation into regulations again, we’re asking for feedback on the corral locations”; other grievances associated with the scooters were raised, leading to LJCPA chair Tony Crisafi cutting off public comment (much to the dismay and groans of those with their hands still raised), threatening to end the meeting entirely and taking the microphone away from speakers.

But, during public comment, the question of enforcement came up more than once. The only identified manner is reporting inappropriately staged scooters on the City’s Get It Done app.

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However, audience member Ray Weiss observed, “The app is inappropriate for that, because there is no place to make the entry. If you choose the option of citing a vehicle for parking, you can only go so far before you have to provide a license plate. So you have to report it as a sidewalk violation, and the City has to report it to the owner of the scooter, which doesn’t accomplish anything.”

LJCPA trustee Dave Gordon opined that the City was “putting the cart before the horse” by not having a method of enforcement.

At the conclusion of public comment, Crisafi took a “room vote” to get a general sense of the audience’s feeling on the scooter corrals — unsurprisingly, the room was overwhelmingly opposed to all the scooter corral locations.

LJCPA trustee Suzanne Weissman noted, “The thing that bothers me is that the City is going to do this regardless. If we don’t vote for the 80-plus, they could come in and put 150. It doesn’t feel like a good choice. I’m afraid not to vote for it, because then we could get something worse!”

Without corrals nearby, Medina said companies will be asked to stage scooters in accordance with the 4-by-40 rule; and riders will be encouraged to leave them in the same manner.

Trustee Nancy Manno said, “I feel like we are being held hostage. There are so many things that must be done before we talk about corrals. It’s another example of the City doing something that makes no sense. I do not support the corrals, or anything having to do with the scooters.”

Diane Kane, before making a motion to pass a lesser number of corral locations, opined, “Traffic engineering have completely abdicated their roles as professionals (by not participating in this process), I don’t know how many of the red zones that are being proposed are actually safe for scooters. We have red zones for a reason, they are not just dead space on the street. I have also advocated for phasing in these locations to see how they go. Why don’t we look at half that number, see how that is working and add more if needed? We are in an experiment, and there may be some value to that experiment, but the way it is being rolled out is inexcusable.”

A motion to pass the list of 81 locations approved by T&T with modifications failed.

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Building upon the failed motion, a multi-part motion passed 8-5-2 to approve 40 locations to be determined by the City, but only with the following conditions in place before the corrals are installed: (1) ensure that any corral locations that are selected be in conformance with the regulatory ordinance, including keeping them a certain distance from schools and out of residential areas; (2) require that locations be geo-fenced so that riders will continue to be charged unless they park in a corral; (3) require that the City’s Get It Done app be updated to provide a dedicated option for reporting improperly left scooters; (4) ensure that red curb locations be vetted by engineers to make sure they are safe for scooter corrals; and (5) make sure that the City Council agrees to revisit the scooter ordinance within one year of its adoption to amend it for effectiveness.

According to the office of Council member Bry, Medina is “getting the motion from the LJCPA … to the City’s Traffic Engineering Department (who originally requested the community feedback on behalf of the Mayor’s Office). We are looking forward to hearing from City staff and the Mayor on what the next steps are in the implementation process.”

— La Jolla Community Planning Association next meets 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollacpa.org


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