by Richard Lieberman
The City Council has voted to ban motorized scooters at least temporarily. The council will review it at later date when data from cities that have approved the scooters become readily available. Cities all over the state are making an effort to manage these devices. It is not just in California that people are struggling with the negative knock-on effects of using electric scooters. Scooter accidents happen all of the time in Denver. As a result, legal action has become a very common practice.
Suddenly with little or no warning these devices appear on the streets in the hundreds. Cities are scrambling to get a handle on them since they showed up about a year ago. Cities have tried outright bans, looking at options for strict regulation, letting them operate independently or implementing pilot programs with strict oversight.
In other cities that have had the experience the personal mobilization devices seem to have showed up overnight. Sometimes they are just dropped off by the companies that own them. Riders download an app on their smart phones that gives the location of a close by scooter. The rider then picks it up and rides away. The business model that the city has seen is one where there are no set parking places for the devices and a rider drops the scooter off just about anywhere in the city. There appears to not have been any attempts by the companies to get into Ventura County.
Downtown Ventura, a popular tourist attraction with its seaside promenade, would be a likely target for an e-scooter company according to a staff report which also noted that these devices would be picked up and impounded, according to the proposed ordinance.
“The city does not currently have regulations on the shared mobility devices”, City Attorney Gregory Diaz said. While the city has had informal discussions on the issue, it wasn’t until recently that a company offering the e-scooter model applied for a business permit. By banning their use, the city can effectively stop the companies from beginning to operate without first getting a regulatory license, Diaz said.
Regulatory licenses are typically required of massage parlors, pawn shops, adult businesses or other industries that may have been problematic in the past. Diaz said that city staff would need to research regulations and how the scooters would work in the city, and those are the same people working on the Thomas Fire rebuilding effort and long-delayed public works projects. “This isn’t intended to be a permanent ban. There are other priorities we have at the moment. It may make sense in the future”, Diaz said, just not now.
The e-scooter have worked well in Portland, Oregon, where a healthy system of bike lanes already existed, and the city regulated their prevalence. At least three council members expressed concern about the city’s liability when it comes to mishaps and accidents.
The staff report also mentions “While there are benefits of the shared mobility devices , there are issues associated with them that will require detailed analysis by the city to ensure they do not create immediate nuisance conditions to which the city is just not geared up to deal with at the time the business is established.”