The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to require electric scooter companies to obtain permits for their app-enabled two-wheelers. Otherwise, the scooters run the risk of being deemed a public nuisance and carted away by Public Works.
The move comes a day after City Attorney Dennis Herrera served Bird, Spin, and Lime with a cease and desist order accusing scooter sellers of “creating a public nuisance on the city’s streets and sidewalks and endangering public health and safety.”
Before Tuesday’s vote, bill author Aaron Peskin said, “I’m frankly kind of amazed by the brouhaha that has ensued” over the proposed law and downplaying its scope, calling it merely “a basic permitting scheme to allow SFMTA to permit these private companies with sensible regulations.”
Peskin also called San Francisco sidewalks “sacred spaces [...] which are for pedestrians, wheelchairs, and parents with strollers” but not scooters or bikes.
Every lawmaker voted in favor of the bill, which cleared committee the previous day.
Supervisor Jeff Sheehy took a few extra minutes to praise the scooter tech as “an interesting solution” to SF transit problems and speculating that “this could really help us get people out of cars,” but he too voted in favor of more regulation.
If finally passed and signed by the mayor, the new law would:
Establish a violation for motorized Powered Scooters to be parked, left standing, or left unattended on a sidewalk, street, or public right-of-way under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) or Department of Public Works (DPW) without an MTA-issued permit authorizing the scooter to be parked, left standing, or left unattended at that location.
And, to the relief of San Franciscans who have spent several weeks playing photo safari with mislaid or unexpectedly amphibious scooters, the bill includes an admonition that:
It shall be prohibited for any Person to deposit, leave, place, keep, maintain, or abandon [...] motorized Powered Scooters, as defined in he Transportation Code, that are part of a Motorized Powered Scooter Share Program, or bicycles that are part of a Stationless Bicycle Share Program, on any Public Property. [...] Any activity or action that violates this Article 26 shall be, and is hereby 2 declared, a public nuisance.
- Ordinance Amending Transit Code [City of SF]
- SF Orders Scooters Cease and Desist [Curbed SF]
- Everything you need to know about the great electric-scooter takeover of San Francisco [Curbed SF]
- As new transit startups take over streets and sidewalks, cities need to step up [Curbed]
- Board of Supervisors, 4.18.18 [SF Gov TV]
- Scooters Behaving Badly [Curbed SF]