City Council Votes to Ban Electric Shared Scooters in West Hollywood

The City Council  voted Monday  night to ban electric shared scooters (and bicycles) in West Hollywood and rejected a proposal by City Hall staff to launch a pilot program to test ways to regulate the increasingly popular vehicles.

The city’s Public Works and Planning and Development Services departments brought forth the proposal in response to a “rogue launch” on March 30 by Lime Scooters of its scooter fleet in West Hollywood. Lime distributed scooters around the city that could be rented via a mobile phone app. A rider was able to drop the scooters wherever he ended his trip, and Lime used GPS technology to track and recover them.

The proposed pilot project would allow a maximum of three companies to each located up to 50 scooters within West Hollywood for six months. The companies would be required to share ridership data with the city, which would put restrictions on hours of operation and location of the scooters.

The pilot project drew opposition from Manny Rodriguez, a resident of West Hollywood West, who contested the argument that use of scooters protects the environment by reducing driving of cars.

“We do not live in a movie studio back lot, a college camps or an Amazon warehouse,” Rodriguez said. “…. Our city should not bargain with companies that depend on the public space for their private gain.”

Councilmember John Heilman said he opposed the pilot program in part because of Lime’s unauthorized launch in West Hollywood, which he likened to a company dropping vending machines on city sidewalks.

“It’s actually quite outrageous for a company that knows that they don’t have permits to do this…. ,” Heilman said. “I think that’s just really a very bad business tactic.”

He described the use of scooters as “a joy ride. They don’t have helmets, they’re not respectable of pedestrians on the sidewalk.”

Mayor John Duran also opposed the pilot program, arguing that the city’s sidewalks already are congested. The proposed pilot program would bar scooters from city sidewalks, however they already are being ridden there.

Councilmember John D’Amico supported the pilot program and suggested giving the city’s Transportation Commission the discretion to increase the number of permitted scooters if there wasn’t an adequate supply of them in certain areas of the city.

D’Amico noted that the scooters already are being ridden into West Hollywood from nearby cities.
“I’m definitely not interested in posting officers at the borders and telling them that ‘you have to get off’,” he said.

“Now, what do we do when people ride them?” D’Amico asked after his fellow Council members voted to ban them. “Are we creating another category of miscreants?”

Dan Mick, the city’s code compliance supervisor, said it isn’t illegal for individuals to drive rented scooters into West Hollywood nor is it illegal for WeHo residents who own their own scooters to drive them, so long as don’t use them on sidewalks.

Tara Worden, an assistant city planner, said that if scooters are left parked on sidewalks, the city would more easily be able to figure out who had left them if it were collaborating with the scooter rental companies in a pilot program.

Representatives from Lime and Spin Scooters spoke in favor of the pilot program. Bird, a Santa Monica-based scooter rental company whose vehicles are seen on WeHo’s sidewalks, did not offer an opinion on the proposal.

  1. what a bunch of old fogies in WeHo! You all might as well just be yelling “GET OFF MY LAWN YOU DANGUMIT KIDS WHY I OUGHTA!”

    You would think a city with ridiculous parking problems would welcome an alternative mode of transports. Have you ever tried to park when you go to visit any friends in West Hollywood? It’s pretty much impossible.

    I think the companies just needed to grease the pockets of lawmakers in one way or another and this would have been fine – I guess that’s their fault, though.

  2. Great, West Hollywood. I was looking forward to using them for short errands, with my backpack. Now I will be forced to use my car instead.
    Great for the environment…

  3. I am happy to hear of the ban. Weho is too dense in population to have these. We already have to maneuver around the homeless, dog poop, skateboarders, pot shop bouncers, skateboarders, non-motorized child scooters, and bicyclists (afraid of the street). We don’t need these things. And they go fast. Faster than the speed of a bicyclist would go on the sidewalk. Where i work, they are found abandoned in elevators, blocking doorways and handicapped access. They even are found in the street. Speaking of street, i saw someone riding one in a lane on Santa Monica blvd during the evening rush slowing traffic.

    When abandoned, the city should trash them as litter. In SF, many are finding there way into landfills. Or better yet, impound them like cars and charge a fine to get them back. Money can help for city projects.

  4. Can’t believe the city voted as I would. I think a first. Great idea at first but the risk of collision is too great. Congrats. West Hollywood, well done.

  5. The California Vehicle code requires that :
    1. Motorized Scooters may only be operated by drivers with a valid license or learners permit,
    2. May not be ridden on the sidewalk (no motor vehicles are permitted on the sidewalks ).
    3. Riders must wear helmets.
    4. Riders may not carry passengers.
    5. The motorized scooters are limited to 15 mph.
    6. Must have brakes and a motor kill switch.
    7. Must have lights front and rear.
    In a walk this evening down Santa Monica Blvd between Crescent Heights and Kings Rd I encountered about a dozen riders on E-scooters. All but one on the sidewalk. None with helmets, two carrying passengers, and two riding at very high speed on the sidewalk.
    I applaud the city council prohibiting scooters, but that is of no use if the Sheriff does not enforce state vehicle regulations already in place.

  6. Three Bird scooter riders passed me today at 2:00 p.m. within 2 blocks of City Hall. Two teenage riders were riding together on the sidewalk. It’s a hazard to pedestrians to allow these on the sidewalk.

    I think the same rules that apply to bicycles should apply to these scooters, if they’re allowed at all.

    1. Same old BS rant about campaign contributions. Also it’s Council members, they’re not a piece of furniture

      1. How can you say it’s not about campaign contributions. Both John H. and John D. who are known as pay for play Council Members, come up with sad excuses for there no votes. Your right Tired of it, that had nothing to do with it.

        1. First of all, they’re not up for re-election for 3 more years. Second, show me the proof of your baseless accusations!!! Or are we just supposed to take your word for it. 🙄

  7. The only people against this program are older. Simple solution would be to make it mandatory to ride in the bike lane. Wow, what a difficult fix smh. YOU PEOPLE ARE MAD ABOUT SCOOTERS. Get a freakin life

    1. Right, our hips could not take being knocked to the ground by a 150 lb. force but yours could! Your solution sounds good however. Gotta wonder

  8. I’m sick and tired of people banning bikes and scooters from sidewalks. I’ve rode my bike and my scooter on the sidewalks in busy areas and I’ve hit 0 people. If people riding bikes or scooters ride at a slow speed in congested parts of sidewalks and observe all doors and driveways there really isn’t an issue.

    1. Bikes are legally allowed on sidewalks, except where expressly prohibited, between Flores and Doheny (or so, on SMB).

      As a matter of courtesy, I never ride mine on one, except in rare cases where there isn’t enough road for to safely bicycle, such as between Sweetzer and Crescent Heights on SMB (where I was almost completely taken out by a large pick up truck, once). When I feel the need to do that, I’m very cautious and slow and perceptive of my surroundings. I try to avoid major thoroughfares as much as I can, so this isn’t usually something I need to do very often.

  9. I didn’t have an opinion on these scooters until today. Walking to Target, I was nearly hit 3x in a row, by 3 people riding these on the sidewalk, going so fast, they literally owned the sidewalk. I guess I no longer care to have them, since I am already ducking bikes, skateboards, single wheel motorized something or others, and auto walk things that look like mobile foot massagers. There is barely enough room for pedestrians, wheelchairs, baby strollers, and disabled folks with walkers. ENOUGH WITH MOTORIZED CONTRAPTIONS ON THE SIDEWALK. Someone is gonna get hurt. Just a reminder….people bruise and sue easily……

    1. I do not think anyone advocates irresponsible use of these electric vehicles. But there are people who text and drive. Drink and drive. Smoke and drive. There are people who ride their bicycles on sidewalks where it is illegal (between Kings and Doheny-ish). Should we outlaw all bicycles and automobiles, as a result?

      This “ban” does nothing, as far as I can tell. I watched the City Council meeting, and the discussion that was had. One cannot be issued a citation for riding and dropping one of these in West Hollywood. Or even for renting one within the city limits.

      So unless Bird puts something in their app, which warns people not to leave one in West Hollywood, or prevents one from locking (dropping) it in West Hollywood (because it is not illegal to ride one in West Hollywood), I’m not sure what this “ban” does. It reminds me of the AirBnB ban, which means nothing, without enforcement (a quick search just showed dozens listed within the city limits, years after the “ban”). And unless someone read this article thoroughly or watched the City Council meeting, everyone might have a different opinion on what “ban” means.

      I guess the City is going to seize scooters reported by residents (provided nobody re-rents the scooter and moves it, before the compliance officer arrives, which will probably be 99% of the time)? And, once again, unless they build something into the software to prevent people from dropping these within the city limits, there’s nothing these companies can do to prevent people from doing it. So, once again, this “ban” means nothing, except, maybe, keeping them from dumping scooters within the city limits (as Lime did, but I’m not sure if that is how they all operate). They would have to force these companies to put those limitations into their software. And probably even warn people upfront

      “Dan Mick, the city’s code compliance supervisor, said it isn’t illegal for individuals to drive rented scooters into West Hollywood nor is it illegal for WeHo residents who own their own scooters to drive them, so long as don’t use them on sidewalks.”

  10. I don’t think scooters should be banned, necessarily, but encouraging their use and having them share sidewalk space with pedestrians was too much.

    When people can’t look up from their cell-phones, it seems best to avoid a potential hazard.

    A 360° change from the last article and I have to say that this tack makes more sense to me.

  11. Without the residents’ of all neighborhoods, (East to West – North to South), that took the time to write, call… in support of a ban the City Council was informed and able to conclude, the ban was the right action to take.

    The density, topograghy, narrow sidewalks along side of heavily congested roads would not be suitable for a pilot but a total ban. The Council Members that supported the ban and all the many residents’ that gave support to the councils final decision.

    It is the many residents that came to the ban solution and they deserve our gratitude.

  12. I’m disappointed in the lack of critical thinking on this subject. I’d just like to point out that we spend MILLIONS of dollars providing PARKING for CARS. And guess what, car companies are companies profiting of that public space. If you agree with that argument, then you should also ban SHOES, SKATE BOARDS and BIKES. All created by private companies making money. And outright ban seems short-sited. But I whole-heartedly agree there should be rules and regulations. Pedestrians get sidewalks, bikes and scooters get bike lanes.

    1. Cars are sold at a car dealership. Not on the sidewalk, any random sidewalk. Cars are highly regulated and with a.i. and driverless cars coming in our lifetime, everything car related will be regulated. I digress. Cars offer a superior utility vs a scooter, for example, transportation of distance, weight capacity, how do you hold something, weather, visibility and presence, handicapped/disabled persons have more usability with a car vs a scooter. So. In the scheme of things Cars are the dominant mode of transportation. There is already limited space on roadways, traffic has become intolerable. No left turn lights at intersections is so dangerous that it is reckless. The bicyclists claiming their right to the road but for forcing everyone else’s carbon footprint to jump up as they go around them or even just slowing down decrease MPG. A car at 35MPH get better MPG than at 15 or 10 MPG behind a cyclist. It is an already unsafe situation. Unfortunately, drivers are distracted as well as cyclists with headphones on and not necessarily paying attention to the degree needed to ride in that tight environment. Especially with a 35MPH limit on SMB. Adding scooters to roadways are super dangerous. Scooters on sidewalks have their own problems. Liability, if the sidewalk is cracked like many are, city can be stuck in a law suite. Not safe going down hills. By Crescent Heights, these scooters come down fast on the sidewalk. An old lady had a problem moving fast enough out of the way. Half of WeHo has hills. I live on a hill. Sidewalks are dangerous for motorized scooters. I would get rid of bike lanes too. Categorically. Bikes don’t belong on road with trucks and cars and hazards. That is just wrong. It is not safe. Categorically not safe. Not fair to anyone. I would widen the sidewalks for bikes and scooters and pedestrians. On SMB, I would smallen up the median all the way down and expand the sidewalks. Bam, we can all get along.

      1. Get rid of bike lanes? What is it about this city that has so many people thinking “car is king,” discouraging any other means of transportation than automobiles? Go to Tokyo, Kyoto, Amsterdam, so many other cities. Do you really believe that bicycles add that much to traffic congestion? Yes, I have to slow down behind one, once in awhile, but there’s no way I believe they add more to traffic congestion or pollution than they take away from it.

        Some things you might know about Bird (the only one I’ve tried), one of the “banned” scooter rental companies:

        – They tell you upfront that helmets are required by law, and even send them to you for free, for $1.99 shipping.

        – They tell you upfront that it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk.

        – They tell you not to drop them where sidewalks or foot traffic will be obstructed.

        – They tell you upfront that you are subject to traffic laws, like a vehicle.

        – They require that you scan your driver’s license before rental.

        All of that said, people are going to disobey the rules, no matter what. In automobiles, on bicycles, and on scooters. I find it pretty ridiculous that bicycles are allowed on sidewalks (except where legally prohibited, such as between Kings and Doheny), yet these tiny, lightweight vehicles that go half the speed are not allowed, and require helmets, where bicycles do not (and I’m not saying scooters should be allowed on sidewalks). Just yesterday, I saw someone riding the opposite direction of traffic down SMB on a sidewalk, where its not legal to ride on the sidewalk. But I also saw people texting and driving in their automobiles, not stopping at stop signs completely, etc..

  13. I’m walking SMB daily with my dog at the widest part (sidewalks & streets).
    My dog, though very old now, will be scared by scooters (skateboards coming are a two hander on my dog’s leash – since adoption, he finds them a threat)
    But, irrespective of me & my dog… I pay attention. On quiet weekdays, the sidewalks (around Starbucks) have a lot of people who meet or gather in the area.

    With bicycles, sate boards, Tourists just looking in a group deciding on lunch… ANY SCOOTER PROGRAM WOULD BE TOO DANGEROUS.

    Sorry… Sounds like fun, but the sidewalks already have too many problems for anything but people walking… The bicycle & skateboard riders using the sidewalk is bad enough… But I have sympathy for the much more dangerous option to the ‘bike lane’

    1. But what is the ban? As D’Amico said, nothing prevents people from riding them into West Hollywood, or leaving them there. Nothing, legally. I think the ban only affects their ability to create “nests,” which is the company’s term for drop off points for pick up by their company, or something. And I guess it would affect their dropping them off in bulk in the city. I’m not sure.

      “Dan Mick, the city’s code compliance supervisor, said it isn’t illegal for individuals to drive rented scooters into West Hollywood nor is it illegal for WeHo residents who own their own scooters to drive them, so long as don’t use them on sidewalks.”

  14. Clearly Lime Scooters didn’t get the memo. They should have donated to Duran’s and Heilman’s election campaigns and favorite pet projects.

  15. Look out .. WeHo and their protectionism is no longer covert! By all means, let’s not bother studying what the people’s wants/needs are, let’s tell them! Even if the bike program is running a deficit , let’s just keep a non sustaining enterprise. Kind of like the city council !

  16. People are so afraid of progress they won’t even give a LIMITED TEST PROGRAM a chance. We are not a progressive city!
    People afraid of scooters and extended hours etc. really belong in a rural area because the benefits of a city scare them.

    1. On the contrary, I’m all for progress but let’s face a few facts here. The attraction of electric scooters is #1) a fad #2) primarily for a young male crowd who wants to look cool and #3) attracts individuals who have less interest in the common good than their own interests of the moment. The result of that is a clog of scooters dropped haplessly all over the place rather than a proper return station arrangement. Blocked sidewalks, pedestrian mishaps, elderly and disabled endangered all by young males looking for fun and recreation until they get bored with it and dump it for some company to pick up. Don’t pretend I’m not right. I’ve been around this world long enough to know how it works. If people used cars the way people want to use scooters, imagine the horrific mess we would have. Regulation alone isn’t enough at this point. Provide a sustainable model that prevents scooters from both interfering on sidewalks and in traffic lanes and we can talk. Until then. Get your joy ride in Santa Monica…

  17. “Our city should not bargain with companies that depend on the public space for their private gain”

    So are we going to ban rental cars and commercial vehicles from using roadways in the city for free?

    The reality is that most scooter trips are equal to one less car trip (whether personal car or uber/taxi). Less car trips = less traffic. Scooters should be viewed as traffic and pollution reducers. I’m fine with rules related to parking, banning riding on sidewalks and other annoying behavior. But the city is just just shooting themselves in the foot if they force people to drive instead of taking other options.

  18. They are already here. I just opened my app, and there are more than a dozen within the city limits this very moment, from what I can see. Then theres a huge cluster all along Melrose, east of Fairfax, which is outside the city limits.

    I agree with what John D’Amico said, which is that people are going to come into the city with them, like it or not. I don’t advocate unsafe use, riding on the sidewalks. As someone who bicycles around this city, I mostly take side streets, avoiding major thoroughfares as much as possible. When not ridden on the sidewalk, these pose far less of a threat to pedestrians than bicycles do, as they are small, and go about half the speed.

    The biggest advantage to these is that they are everywhere, and can be left anywhere, which makes it way more convenient than the bike sharing program, and for people who own bikes, you don’t have to worry about them being stolen. You could use one to get to happy hour, and then after drinking, walk or Uber home. They are very tiny, and I don’t think they “clutter” the sidewalks (certainly not the way the bike sharing program does). They certainly don’t look as garish as the bicycling program stations do. Lime shouldn’t have dumped them in the city back in March, that was a bad business decision.

    Following D’Amico’s question, what is the city going to do if someone rides one into and leaves it in West Hollywood (as I, admittedly did, yesterday, when I tried one of these for the first time)? Will that person be issued a citation, now? I’m thinking, probably not:

    “Dan Mick, the city’s code compliance supervisor, said it isn’t illegal for individuals to drive rented scooters into West Hollywood nor is it illegal for WeHo residents who own their own scooters to drive them, so long as don’t use them on sidewalks.”

    1. I think a major problem is that they are not safe in the roadway. Cars and trucks are big in comparison. You ever see a work truck or deliver truck on one of the many tight roads in our area? Imagine that guy not seeing a zooming scooter coming up in tight quarters. Philosophy aside and other emotional connections to any argument, is that, it is plain, not safe. Not on commercial scale. If the government came out and said ‘yes’, there would be an eventual, steady rise in injuries and collisions, etc increased insurance, heartbreak, permanent injuries. Yikes. You would say the government has to stop it. I would widen sidewalks everywhere and put the bikes, scooters, and pedestrians there. Would do you think?

      1. I think scooters and bicycles don’t belong on sidewalks, and riders of either need to exercise caution, but be allowed to choose these modes of transportation, should they want to. Helmets are not required by law for bicycles, nor are they disallowed on sidewalks, unless it is expressly prohibited (between Kings and Doheny, for example). Yet scooters, which go half the speed, require helmets and aren’t allowed on sidewalks.

        Fix our laws, but allow people to make their own choices about how they get around, and assess their own risk. I have enough common sense to take side streets when on a scooter, or bicycle, as much as I can.

  19. I’ve seen more people on scooters in the past month and zero people riding the city shared bikes since moving here a year ago. What’s wrong with giving folks options?

  20. I’m sorry, but my view is the the city just wants to monopolize the ‘sharing’ public space renting services. Overly prices and overly sold tickets to events, such as the Pride Festival as a recent example. They don’t want competition with their new bike sharing service. I’m sorry this sounds very pedantic and as if their is another reason to dislike it. Though, I’m not saying they shouldn’t have permits, but I don’t see an issue other than the drop off of the scooters, which is the only difference in my eyes between that and Uber, which is hugely profitable and underpays their drives, to the point it is criminal.

  21. I love Manny’s point and agree we should not bargain with companies over their need to use our space to promote their businesses. That said, we already have a costly, embarrassing and ridiculous bike-sharing program littering our sidewalks throughout weho — and i see far less demand for those bikes than i do the scooters, which unlike the bikes people actually seem to want to use. What say we dump the bikes and try some scooters in those under utilized bike lanes?

    1. I agree completely (refer to my other comment). Also, the bike-sharing program requires you to return your bike to a station, which, ironically, are along thoroughfares, where people complain that it is “unsafe to bicycle.” These can be found anywhere (I found one in front of an apartment building yesterday) and it is easier to ride them through side streets and then just leave them whenever you are done with them.

      1. Yep the reason the scooters are popular is bc the bikes can be parked only in bike stations, why not take a street parking space out every block and reserve it for scooters and bikes, that’s the solution here. Let you rent one from anywhere and leave it on any block in a designated space.

    2. I agree 100% that we should not allow companies to use public spaces to conduct business. That said, if that’t the rule they want to promote, they need to enforce it consistently. What about the bars and restaurants that have been allowed to place patios in the sidewalk areas? What about vendors who are allowed to take over part of the sidewalk to sell their wares (e.g., that guy in front of the BofA on SMB)? What about the hot dog carts? What about food trucks? All of these are competing against businesses in the City that pay actual rent for their space, have business licenses, pay sales tax, etc. It’s unfair that others get a competitive advantage on the taxpayers’ dime.

      1. The bar and restaurants that take up sidewalk space in front of their businesses pay a fee to the City to do so.

        1. Still hoping to get a response here. Is it a one-time permit fee or is it monthly rent at market rates? The difference is significant. If it’s a one-time fee, it is basically a give away. Monthly rent (at market rates) is a whole different story.

          1. It’s a monthly on-going fee. There’s a one time permit fee which has to be approved through the planning department and then a monthly space rental fee paid to the city. Initially, these fees were low to encourage the use of the widened sidewalks which were created for just this purpose. Now I believe that the monthly fee is much more substantial depending on the amount of space used and the number of people it may legally hold per fire code regulations. The restraints aren’t getting away with anything. It’s a proportional cost of their doing business…

          2. Thank you RobbyDobby for the response. That’s really helpful. Now I wish the City would forbid smoking on these City-owned properties.

  22. West Hollywood is considered one of the most walkable cities in the state. Not for long if we walkers have nowhere to walk! SideWALKS are not ROADways!

  23. With utmost respect, the ban is welcomed. Mayor Duran and Councilmember Heilman hit the reasons for the ban. Thank you.

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