SANTA MONICA—The city attorney’s office for the city of Santa Monica filed a criminal complaint against Bird Rides, Inc. (“Bird”), a corporation that offers motorized scooters for rent in the region.
According to a press release from the city of Santa Monica, the complaint alleges that the company has repeatedly violated local laws by operating without a business license. Bird scooters are found in the public right of way, including sidewalks. The company has repeatedly refused to comply with city citations.
The City’s Code Enforcement Division, in coordination with the Santa Monica Police Department and Business Licensing Division, investigated the case after complaints were received from the public. The investigation revealed that the company has been operating a scooter rental business in Santa Monica without a business license. After refusals by Bird to cooperate, law enforcement agencies jointly referred the case to the City Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution.
Deputy City Attorney Eda Suh filed criminal charges against Bird on Wednesday, December 6. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Tamara Hall found reasonable ground to believe that Bird committed the offenses charged in the compliant on the same day, and issued a summons to Bird requiring it to appear in court to answer the charges on February 1, 2018.
Bird employees, without required city authorization, flooded city public sidewalks with motorized scooters for rent on a daily basis. The scooters blocked pedestrian access to public sidewalks, and blocked driveways and ADA Ramps. City staff repeatedly warned Bird against continuing their illegal business activities. Santa Monica issued multiple citations directing Bird to obtain proper business licenses, to remove the scooters from the public sidewalks, and to cease storing scooters within the public right of way. Bird continued to disregard the city’s warnings and even citations.
“Criminal prosecution is not the first remedy to be used in regulatory cases, but Bird’s flagrant violations of City laws threaten public safety and require prosecution,” said Deputy City Attorney Suh.
City law requires that businesses obtain city licenses before engaging in commercial activities, on public property, which must accommodate many competing uses. Santa Monica’s public safety laws require personal items not be abandoned on public property, for private commercial purposes.
California law prohibits the riding of motorized scooters on public sidewalks and requires anyone operating a motorized scooter to possess a valid driver’s license or instruction permit, and to wear a helmet. See California DMV website for further information at www.dmv.ca.gov. State law bars riders from abandoning motorized scooters on the sidewalk or parking them in a manner that impedes pedestrian traffic.
Anyone with additional information about such illegal activities should immediately contact the Santa Monica Police Department at (310) 458-8491 or Code Enforcement Division at (310) 458-4984.