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SF City Attorney sends cease and desist letters to scooter companies

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A man rides a Bird dockless rental electric scooter on Market Street. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent cease and desist letters Monday to three dockless electric scooter companies.

The letters to Spin, Lime and Bird said the companies have ignored previous warnings and continue “to operate an unpermitted motorized scooter rental program” that is “creating a public nuisance on The City’s streets and sidewalks and endangering public health and safety.”

The letters come on the day of Board of Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee vote on legislation introduced by Supervisors Aaron Peskin that would require dockless scooter companies to only use public spaces if they obtain a permit from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The legislation would create regulations for dockless scooter companies if the proposal is approved.

The City Attorney has received has received numerous complaints “about dangerous operation” of the scooters that run afoul of state and law, according to the letters. Complaints include riders using the scooter on public sidewalks and leaving scooters in public spaces, “creating falling hazards and impeding the safe use of sidewalks,” according to the letters.

The letters offer some suggestions for how the companies could address these concerns, such as making the prohibition of using the scooters on sidewalks clear in users agreements, telling riders where they can park them and developing a way to track user behavior and ultimately ban them from further use if they violate the law.

The City Attorney has given the companies until April 30 to submit reports on how they have addressed the complaints.

Meanwhile, Public Works crews have begun confiscating scooters that violate a city code prohibiting the obstruction of public spaces.

The cease and desist letters are a seperate effort from the pending legislation, according to city officials.

Bird spokesperson Kenneth Baer said the company has received the letter and “we are reviewing it.”

The City Attorney’s Office has sent a cease and desist order to dockless scooter rental companies operating without permits in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of the City Attorney’s Office.)

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