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City Hall demands electric scooter purveyors get permits

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New law would also outlaw abandoning scooters on sidewalks

San Francisco Battles New Electric Scooter Rentals Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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.

San Francisco Battles New Electric Scooter Rentals Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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.