SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, June 12, close to 50 protestors stood outside Santa Monica City Hall in contention to the pilot program, that would be voted on, standing with companies such as Bird Inc. and Lime. The Santa Monica City Council passed the resolution to enact a 16-month pilot program for dockless, shared mobility devices, including electric scooters and bicycles.
“There’s no denying the popularity and ease of shared mobility devices that can help Santa Monica reach its goal of being a multi-modal city,” said Mayor Ted Winterer. “Yet we must balance that with a serious need to hold companies accountable to ensure responsible behavior on our streets and sidewalks. This pilot approach will allow us to understand usage and operations in order to create a long-term program that establishes a safe, equitable and sustainable mobility option in Santa Monica.”
To operate the pilot program, city council approved two full-time employees – one program coordinator and one enforcement liaison – on limited-term contracts until a permanent program is in effect. These positions will be created by retooling existing staffing structures, and is not expected to add new positions to the city’s workforce.
According to the city of Santa Monica website, new changes with the pilot program include safety regulations, parking/drop off regulations, and the requirement to share data about scooter rental with the city. City council hopes the program will better the lives and safety of the community members, as well as riders and rebuild the image and relationship of the companies in the city. The staff report indicates the city of Santa Monica is elongating the fiscal year for the companies so they don’t expire until the pilot program is implemented. With a 90-day extension in certain cases to help companies with a successful transition into the new program.
Starting on September 17, electric scooter companies, Bird and Lime, will have to pay an annual fee of $20,000 in addition to a $130 fee for every scooter. A scooter cap will be enforced, setting the maximum amount of scooters each company can have within the city to 1,500. Any other electric scooter company interested in bringing their business to the city of Santa Monica will have to file for a permit with the city. Vending permits for Bird and Lime expire at the end of the fiscal year on Saturday, June 30, the passing of the emergency ordinance extends the permits until September 16.
In December 2017, Bird faced criminal charges against the city of Santa Monica for not have the proper permits to operate within city limits.
Residents have complained about the safety hazards that electric scooters have caused in the city including: riders riding on public sidewalks instead of on bike lanes, riders riding without a helmet, scooters blocking door ramps and ADA access, as well as scooters being improperly parked. According to city date record, police officers issued several citations to scooter users for violating safety hazards.
Staff recommendations were in favor of the program arguing it would help the community. At the council meeting, City Planner, Anuj Gupta spoke on behalf of the resolution stating, “What our community’s needs, limits, opportunities, and values with respect to shared mobility and how to best structure a longer-term model for regulating these transportation modes to promote health and safety and well being of all member of the community.”
Written By Nina Garza and Jillian Spaulding