Peskin seeks to block dockless electric rental scooters in SF

Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit and assess fines for dockless motorized rental scooters if they show up on San Francisco’s streets.

Last year, The City took steps to block the emergence of dockless rental bikes from being dumped on San Francisco streets without permits. Peskin on Tuesday said the most recent emerging technology is dockless motorized scooters, which are rented through smartphone apps. The devices are motorized push scooters resembling large Razor scooters.

Santa Monica sued motorized rental scooter company Bird in December 2017, when the devices started showing up there, for not adhering to local laws or obtaining business permits. Peskin said Bird was expected to expand operations to San Francisco in the coming months.

SEE RELATED: SF transit officials discuss granting dockless bikeshare permits amid legal challenge

“We are reading stories about these motorized scooters causing public safety and transportation hazards,” Peskin said.

Bird spokesperson Kenneth Baer said the company has “no immediate plans to launch in San Francisco.”

Peskin said that while the scooters could bring a benefit to public transit, The City would first need to create regulations and study their impact before simply letting a company use public spaces. The adopted rules should take “into account some of the potential harms and permit conditions pertaining to where these privatized scooters may be placed around The City, where they may be used, among other sensible conditions,” Peskin said.

Currently, there is no permit required for leaving unattended motorized scooters that are part of a rental program. The legislation would require motorized scooter rental companies to obtain a permit from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Without a permit, the scooters could be deemed a nuisance, and Public Works could confiscate them.

The legislation, which requires approval by the full Board of Supervisors to become law, would also allow the SFMTA to assess fines and the City Attorney to seek civil penalties against companies operating without a permit.

Joshua Sabatini
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Joshua Sabatini

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