LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles City Council kept moving forward Friday on a framework of regulations for the dockless electric scooter industry, voting in favor of an ordinance that would create an official pilot program.
The council’s 10-1 vote in favor of the ordinance did not come as a surprise, as the heavy debate on the issue occurred earlier this month when its members hashed out the proposed guidelines for the ordinance and sent them to the Office of the City Attorney to be drafted.
Councilman Paul Koretz, who has been raising concerns about the safety devices, was the lone vote in opposition to the program.
“Making it legal doesn’t make it safe. I still doubt whether these can operate appropriately,” Koretz said.
The ordinance will need to be voted on again in a week to reach final approval, as at least 12 votes are required on a first vote for an ordinance to be passed.
The one-year pilot program would not just apply to scooters, but to any shared mobility devices, and would cap the number of devices to 3,000 per company, with the opportunity to field more if they are placed in disadvantaged communities.
The program would also allow any company to apply for a conditional use permit of up to 3,000 in the interim 120 days before the pilot program becomes active.
Companies can later apply for more scooters if they agree to place them in lower-income communities.
The dockless Lime and Bird scooters have proliferated in Westside communities over the last year, leaving local governments scrambling with how to regulate them.
Earlier this year, many locals were reportedly choosing to destroy the shareable scooter – burning, crushing and even throwing them into the Pacific Ocean.
The problem stemmed from there being no central location or docking space where users could drop the scooters off. The scooters have therefore been left wherever the user leaves it, until another person comes along to hop on.
The city of Beverly Hills recently banned them for six months, while Santa Monica last month created a 16-month pilot program which caps the number of scooters allowed on the streets.
Under the 16-month tryout, Bird and Lime have all electric scooters while JUMP and Lyft have 250 electric scooters and 500 bikes.
The city council also tacked on a $1 ride away fee per device to help pay for sidewalks, green lanes and other improvements.
The scooters work through a phone app that allows people to find and unlock the devices and drop them off anywhere they are allowed, with no docking station or kiosk required.
The council also approved a top speed of the scooters of 15 mph, which is the speed already offered by Bird and Lime.
The new regulations require companies to equip the scooters with a minimum 48-point font warning against riding on sidewalks.
Companies also must maintain a 24-hour hotline and respond to improperly parked or inoperable devices within two hours, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In the future, operators will be required to use technology that can tell if a device is parked upright. They city may also designate parking areas for the devices in high-traffic areas.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)