SANTA MONICA (CNS) - Electric or motorized vehicles such as scooters, bikes, skateboards and Segways are now banned on Santa Monica's beach bike path, the pier and municipal parks.
The Santa Monica City Council voted Tuesday night to ban non-human- powered vehicles from the areas, in a move city officials say is aimed at ensuring public safety.
“The city council is committed to advancing sustainable new transportation options, while maintaining safety as a top priority,” Deputy City Manager Anuj Gupta said in a statement.
The council also approved a “public right-of-way fee” that will be assessed on shared-mobility devices, such as electric scooters and bicycles. The fee is $1 per day per device, with the money earmarked for “improvements like expanding sidewalks, green lanes and other changes that make walking, biking, scooter riding and moving around Santa Monica easier and safer.”
The use of electric scooters, such as those operated widely in the Southland by Lime and Bird, has been a source of contention in many cities, including Santa Monica. The city is expected this week to announce the companies that will be allowed to operate electric scooters in the city as part of a pilot program.
The program made headlines earlier this month when a city committee recommended that operating permits for scooters be issued to ride-hailing services Lyft and Uber -- not Lime or Bird. The recommendation prompted Lime and Bird to deactivate all of their scooters for a day in Santa Monica, and supporters of the firms flocked to a city council meeting to register their opposition to the move.
David Martin, the city's Planning and Community Development director, will make the final decision about which companies will participate in the 18- month pilot program, which will also require the operators to pay a base fee -- estimated at $20,000 -- along with per-device charges. The program is set to begin Sept. 17.
The Santa Monica Daily Press reported Wednesday that Lime -- trying to sweeten its application to join the pilot program -- has offered to pay the city $1.5 million for infrastructure improvements if it is chosen.
Companies that are not chosen for the pilot program will have to remove their devices from the city, meaning a major loss for Bird and Lime, which have a large presence in Santa Monica.
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