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Grand Jury Faults San Diego’s Response To Dockless Scooters

Dockless scooters sit in a city of San Diego lot near downtown, July 22, 2019.

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Dockless scooters sit in a city of San Diego lot near downtown, July 22, 2019.

San Diego City Council members received a grand jury report Wednesday that faults the city for its response to the proliferation of dockless electric scooters.

The city dragged its feet when it came to regulating the companies that rent out scooters and users have been allowed to ride recklessly with little to no consequences, the report found.

Listen to this story by Andrew Bowen.

"During the summer of 2018, San Diego's downtown sidewalks became overrun by hundreds, if not thousands, of scooters from various companies," the report reads. "Some scooters are being ridden unsafely and illegally."

Scooters first started appearing in early 2018, after the City Attorney's Office issued a memo stating the shared devices could be allowed in the city without violating an exclusive agreement with bike-sharing company DiscoverBike.

The City Council considered, but ultimately rejected, a ban on riding electric scooters on the Mission Beach boardwalk in May 2018. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer chose not to pursue a citywide ban on the devices, as other cities did, citing their potential to reduce car travel and greenhouse gas emissions.

RELATED: Disability Lawsuit Targets San Diego Over Dockless Scooters

For all the criticisms leveled by the grand jury, many of its recommendations were outdated by the time the report was published on June 20. The report recommends requiring scooter-sharing companies to carry liability insurance, impose speed limits and pay per-device fees on its fleet of vehicles in the city. All those things were included in a package of regulations approved by the City Council in May.

The grand jury is composed of volunteers, mostly retirees, who investigate citizen complaints. The government agencies they investigate are required to respond to all their findings and recommendations.

The city's proposed response to the report, which still needs approval from the full City Council, says San Diego police officers have been conducting targeted enforcement of scooter laws every week since July 1 and that the city had impounded roughly 2,500 illegally parked scooters during Comic-Con.

But some members of the public told the committee those enforcement operations were still falling short.

"People are still riding on the sidewalks, people are still throwing scooters wherever they please," said Ali Faraj, who is visually impaired. "Often you'll see numerous scooters blocking ... the button for the audible crosswalks so I can safely cross the street."

San Diego News Now podcast branding

A recent grand jury report finds San Diego's enforcement of electric scooter laws is lax and riders routinely violate traffic laws. The city is pushing back on the findings. Plus, ... Read more →

Aired: October 3, 2019 | Transcript

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Photo of Andrew Bowen

Andrew Bowen
Metro Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover local government — a broad beat that includes housing, homelessness and infrastructure. I'm especially interested in the intersections of land use, transportation and climate change.

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