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San Diego looking to downsize number of scooter companies in operation city-wide

City leaders are taking steps to limit the number of scooters in San Diego but first, have to come up with a set of safety regulations and enforcement measures

SAN DIEGO — In the face of growing complaints about scooter users' reckless riding through streets and sidewalks, and often dumping their rentals onto pedestrian pathways once they're done, the city is taking action.

When motorized rental scooters were first introduced to San Diego, it was a "free for all," with no limits on how many companies could compete.

There are now six of these scooter companies city-wide with a total of nearly 10,0000 scooters.

That model, however, is apparently about to change.

"What we are heading to is, 'Let's exert some control over the number of companies and actually limit the number of scooters,'" said San Diego City Council Member Joe LaCava (District 1). 

While the details are still being hammered out, the city of San Diego would issue a request for proposals to scooter companies and negotiate individual contracts with a limited number which would then abide by a revised set of safety standards.

Exactly what those new regulations will be, however, is still a work in progress.

"I'm a strong believer in, If you are going to have regulations, have a mechanism to enforce that," LaCava told News 8. "And the city hasn't quite figured that out yet."

LaCava added that one of the most critical common-sense regulations - one already in place in Downtown San Diego, is keeping scooters off sidewalks, both when they are being operated and when they are parked afterward. 

"You're not allowed to ride your scooter on the sidewalk," he said. "It makes sense to clear a path for pedestrians, and if it is good enough for downtown, it's good enough for every neighborhood."

"Stage them in the street, drive them in the street, park them in the street, and do that city-wide," emphasized Jonathan Freeman of the group Safe Walkways.

Safe Walkways backs the idea of limiting the number of companies allowed to operate here but wants more details on how this would actually be accomplished.

"I think one of the criteria should be that the companies demonstrate that they are actually lowering the carbon emissions of our city," Freeman told News 8. 

Safe Walkways would also like to see funding designated by the city for scooter enforcement, especially when it comes to cracking down on scooters being dumped onto sidewalks.

"The mayor at the stroke of a pen could easily enable parking enforcement officers to give parking tickets for parking violations to the scooter companies," Freeman added. 

While these new regulations are still being crafted, they would be part of the request-for-proposals, which could be released as soon as this summer, with decisions being made on which scooter companies can operate in San Diego later on this year.

News 8 reached out to the scooter companies currently operating in San Diego. 

Spin sent this statement: "Spin supports the move to a competitive bidding process because we believe selective procurement will strengthen the Shared Mobility Program's overall success. Cities have the authority to set expectations in order to maximize public benefit. Limiting the number of qualified companies can ease program management for city staff while streamlining education & communication with users as well as other members of the public. We look forward to submitting a proposal." (Phuong Bui, Government Partnerships Manager)

LINK sent this statement: "It is a privilege-- not a right-- for us to operate our fleet in the public realm.  More accountability will only enhance safety for riders and pedestrians alike." (Paul White, director of public affairs, LINK by Superpedestrian.)

Ban on motorized scooters on San Diego boardwalks takes effect - Feb. 29, 2020

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