District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry held what is believed to be her her fifth “Brews With Bry” event Thursday, Aug. 8 at the Farmer & the Seahorse restaurant, during which she shared personal conversations and complimentary pizza with 20 constituents — each of whom registered in advance to attend.
Bry opened the 90-minute event by encapsulating her history with the two issues she said she’s asked most often about — dockless scooters and short-term vacation rentals — then bringing participants up to speed on new developments.
“I hate the scooters, I’ll be very blunt,” she said to applause from the mostly senior audience. “I was a tech entrepreneur before I ran for the City Council. I understand these companies. They have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and they are learning on us.”
Bry said she recently visited a “scooter graveyard” in Spring Valley and saw a collection of 7,000 of the devices, confiscated because they were illegally parked, “chirping like monsters that are going to come alive and eat you.” They were collected by the City and by a company, Scoot Removal, that Bry said removes 500 a day from private property.
“Scoot Removal is charging a ransom of about $50 but it’s not worth it to the scooter companies to pick them up,” Bry said, adding that Mayor Kevin Faulconer ignored her second call to impose a scooter moratorium on July 26.
“He has done nothing, but I have been told informally, maybe,” Bry said. “So if you all care, I would write an e-mail to the Mayor’s office. I think they count how many e-mails they get.” (email@example.com)
Bry described the latest development in her battle against short-term vacation rentals as a concerning proliferation of apartments she said are being offered through a website called sonder.com, which she reports recently offered an apartment in The Millennium Mission Valley for $255 a night.
“To me, this is a travesty,” Bry said. “We gave the property owner a permit to build a building for a long-term resident, not a visitor accommodation.”
Unlike previous “Brews with Bry” events, the Council member’s voice was not amplified — she explained that the restaurant’s microphone was broken — so it was difficult to hear her over other gatherings that shared the space.
However, this also forced an intimacy that worked to her advantage. Instead of receiving their answers over a public-address system, constituents got to enjoy relative privacy with the Council member.
Jane Renninger and Sharon Reynolds, who said they live “a few million dollars east of La Jolla” in University City, told Bry they were concerned about the number of car break-ins they read about on the NextDoor app and wondered whether these incidents would escalate to home invasions and robberies. (Bry replied that she didn’t have the specific data to answer their question but would request it from Northern Division’s community relations officer.)
La Jolla resident Sue Rutledge, treasurer of an eight-condo HOA on Eads Avenue, thanked Bry for getting her a customer advocate from San Diego Water, which eventually offered to lower an anomalous $4,700 water bill to their average monthly payment of $700. She also asked Bry to request that San Diego Water issue a pre-bill warning whenever charges are multiple times what they normally are, “like the credit card companies do.” (Bry said she would.)
The event was so informal, about half of those who requested time with Bry asked the Light not to listen in on what they referred to as their “private conversations” with the Council member.