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Scooter company sues to stop SF pilot program

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A woman rides a Lime electric scooter on Market Street in April, before they were banned from city streets. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Scooter company Lime is pursuing legal action to stop San Francisco from deploying scooters on Monday.

The company will file for a restraining order in California State Superior Court against the Powered Scooter Share Permit Pilot Program Friday morning, the company announced Thursday.

That may put the brakes on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s plans to let the e-scooters come back Monday. The agency was scheduled to award permits to two companies, Scoot and Skip, on October 15.

SEE RELATED: SF awards permits to two scooter companies for limited pilot

“Lime believes it has no choice but to seek emergency relief in court,” a Lime spokesman wrote in a statement. “The company has never had to take legal action against a city and now serves over 100 markets globally.”

John Cote, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office, called the legal move “sour grapes from Lime, plain and simple,” and accused the company of “playing games.” He said the company’s application “simply didn’t match those of its competitors.”

“It’s unfortunate Lime has chosen this course,” Cote said. “The SFMTA’s permitting process for the pilot program was thoughtful, fair and transparent. It includes an appeal process that Lime should be pursuing instead of wasting everyone’s resources by running to court.”

“If Lime succeeds, it will be hurting the very people it purports to want to help – those who are ready to use scooters on Monday,” Cote said.

Lime was among the 10 e-scooter companies denied permits by SFMTA. Agency officials cited the company’s poor application and record of not cooperating with San Francisco in denying approval to operate in The City.

In its announcement Thursday, Lime skewered SFMTA’s permit process as being “riddled with bias” due to “favoritism,” though the company did not expand on why SFMTA would be favorable toward Scoot and Skip.

Lime was one of the three e-scooter companies that rolled out its two-wheeled vehicles in a “disruptive” fashion in March before a permit process was created by The City, causing more than 1,800 complaints about scooters parked on sidewalks or zooming past pedestrians to be filed with The City’s 311 system.

SEE RELATED: E-scooters to return to SF streets on Oct. 15, but only in a handful of neighborhoods

The City Attorney’s Office and SFMTA moved to impose a temporary ban on the practice of renting scooters via smartphone app in June.

More than 500 scooters were impounded by The City before the temporary ban, which only targeted scooters parked in the path of walkers.

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