Scooters on the sidewalk
Scooters: Council will consider extending the mobility program. SMDP Photo


Council's Tuesday meeting is focused on mobility including scooters and taxis.

New items added to the Sept. 12 meeting of Santa Monica City Council focus on several transportation issues in the city, including a step towards repurposing taxi stands in the area.

The Sept. 12 meeting will introduce a first reading of an ordinance that amends the Santa Monica Municipal Code on taxicabs, which would transition the city from a franchising model to a permitting model for taxi companies. The franchise model was established in 2009 to regulate the city’s then-cab fleet of 511, operated by 55 cab companies. Since that time, the rise of companies such as Uber and Lyft have significantly depleted the cab force.

Currently, only one cab company remains in the city, as Taxi! Taxi! is the only company in compliance with California state law AB 1069, which states that a cab company must be “substantially located” within the city of operation. A switch to a permitting system would eliminate the company’s annual franchise fee, which is a base fee of $5,000 plus a $452 cost per vehicle in the cab fleet, and replace it with various permitting fees. Under the permitting system, any company “substantially located” within Santa Monica can apply for a permit.

The most significant impact for residents from the ordinance would be the repurposing of the city’s remaining taxi stands, with Taxi! Taxi! stating that they have little use for the stands due to a decreased cab fleet.

Under a permit-based system, no street hailing taxi rides will be allowed for companies not located in Santa Monica, and companies cannot stand and queue for passengers. The ordinance would trigger a change from taxi stands into short-term parking or loading zones, and would ensure for extra curbside use to mitigate double parking or bike lane blockages.

Bike lanes will also be the focus of a new transportation discussion item added to the Sept. 12 meeting. A request submitted by council members Jesse Zwick and Caroline Torosis, along with Mayor Gleam Davis, asks the City Manager to “study and prioritize timely and effective solutions” to motor vehicle incursions into city bike lanes. The request asks for a consideration into enhanced enforcement of bike lanes by parking and traffic officers, as well as target curb management evaluation and space reallocation to reduce double parking in bike lanes.

Another ordinance that will be brought to council is the extension of the Second Shared Mobility Device Pilot Program, which has been operating since 2018. Three operators are currently allowed to conduct a shared mobility service in Santa Monica, with companies Spin, Veo and Wheels/Helbiz permitted to deploy e-scooters, scooters, as well as class 1 and 2 e-bikes to provide a “safe, effective, orderly, and equitable transportation for the community.”

The pilot program will be extended while the city continues negotiation on final shared mobility contracts, which officials hope will address affordability issues and ensure a diverse set of mobility types.

Council meets in City Hall, 1685 Main Street on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Closed session begins at 5:30 p.m.

Thomas Leffler has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from Penn State University and has been in the industry since 2015. Prior to working at SMDP, he was a writer for AccuWeather and managed...