In the face of rising crime, rampant homelessness and allegations of a racist election system, the City Council has two items on its Aug. 28 agenda targeting the great scooter scourge.

Council will introduce revisions to the Municipal Code covering traffic laws, the beach path and civil penalties related to electric bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices, electrically motorized boards, low-speed vehicles, and motorized scooters. They will also discuss a proposal to charge scooter companies for the use of the public space.

Fees for the public right of way will be in addition to fees associated with the impending pilot program.

“In light of the rapid changes, Council approved the creation of a 16-month Shared Mobility Pilot Program. As a component of the pilot program, Council established a cost recovery fee for staff time to administer and enforce compliance with the pilot program of $20,000 annually per operator, and $130 annually per device,” said the staff report. “Currently adopted fees recover only program oversight cost, and do not compensate for the use of public property for private commercial purposes.”

Staff said the public right of way (PROW) is a valuable land asset designed to facilitate the movement of people and goods throughout the city. Fees and regulation are already in place governing some uses of the space.

“A primary example is the installation of parking meters to facilitate turnover of spaces so that spaces remain available to the public throughout the day,” said the report. “The taxicab franchise is another related management tool, which limits the number of taxicabs to avoid traffic created by oversaturation and charges a fee per taxicab per year. When the PROW is utilized by private parties for private profit, it is both appropriate and necessary for the public to recapture some of the private profit generated to be used for the benefit of the public, who both own and use this valuable community asset.”

Restaurants already pay a fee to use the PROW for outdoor dining and staff said mobility companies should also compensate the city for the use of city space. They said companies use the space to deploy and display the vehicles where they are available for rent. Staff said the use of the space allows the companies to generate significant revenue.

“In exchange for shared mobility companies’ ability to conduct commercial activities in the PROW, the proposed fee would compensate the public as a community benefit, which could be used to expand mobility infrastructure and services (like protected bike lanes, mobility hubs, Vision Zero improvements, paratransit services, or educational programs) that will help integrate shared mobility devices safely into the Santa Monica landscape,” said the report.

City fees for outdoor dining range from $1.97 to $6.56 per square foot depending on the level of enclosure and visual barriers. Staff is estimating scooters can occupy between 12 – 18 square feet depending on their orientation and that that space can seem larger to pedestrians walking around the devices.

The fees for each device would be based on a cost of $2.48 per square foot and 12 square feet of space per device for a monthly charge of $29.67 or a daily per device rate of $0.98.

Council will meet on Tuesday, August 28 in City Hall, 1685 Main Street. Closed session begins at 5:30 p.m. and open session will not begin before 6:30 p.m.


Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...

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