Council slams brakes on runaway scooter program

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As public outrage over electric scooters in WeHo came to a boil Monday night, City Council decided to slow the roll of the city’s micromobility program on its path towards permanence.

Instead of approving the hiring of a consultant to study the implementation of a permanent program, as City Staff had proposed, City Council voted to have the consultant conduct scientific polls of both residents and non-residents to gauge the desire for a permanent program, fulfilling a promise the mayor made to some of the program’s most vocal opponents in the community. The results of those polls will determine the future of micromobile devices in West Hollywood, they agreed.

“The whole reason we got out of the electric bike program that the city was running was that it was costing us too much,” Councilmember Lauren Meister said. “Here we are again, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to run a program that may hurt our residents. We haven’t even asked our residents if they want this program. This is taxpayer money that we are using to run a program that we don’t even know if the residents want.”

Several startling facts came to light as Council quizzed staff members about the progress of the pilot program and the implementation of their prior directives.

“First of all, when we had the discussion about the scooters being on the sidewalk, I thought that the council majority said this needs to happen as soon as possible or we are stopping allowing them to go through our city if they don’t have that technology,” Meister said. “So, I don’t understand how it went this far without the technology, without staff coming back to the council and basically saying no, we’re done, we’re not doing it, we’re not continuing this pilot until the technology is there and we do not see scooters on the sidewalk.”

Last year, City Council demanded that the city’s four scooter providers institute technology that would prevent riders from using the sidewalks. Since then, two of the providers dropped out of WeHo’s program. The remaining providers, Bird and Lime, upgraded their scooters to detect when riders were on sidewalks — but while their technology alerts riders that they are breaking the rules, it does not stop them from doing so.

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“Honestly, this is unacceptable,” Mayor Sepi Shyne said. “I will not be voting for a permanent program until that is in place and we have data coming back to us.”

Her line of questioning revealed how lucrative the contracts are for the scooter providers.

“How much money are these scooter companies making in our city?” Mayor Sepi Shyne asked Long Range Planning Manager Francisco Contreras.

“Yeah, we don’t collect that information so we don’t have it,” Contreras replied.

“Are we getting any money from their use in our city?” she asked.

“Currently, they pay a $5,000 quarterly operator fee,” he said.

The incredulous audience in Council chambers broke out in laughter.

“And there were 400,000 rides in our city?” Shyne said, referencing the number of rides logged since the beginning of the program in 2021. “It’s at least six bucks a ride. Six times 400,000 is … $2.4 million? This is a really bad deal for West Hollywood.”

“So, I just want to be clear, I support alternate mobility,” she continued. “There are people in the city that are residents and that do use the scooters and it is really important for us to move into the future, but the way we’re moving is not safe. It is not good for our economy. This is a really bad contract and quite honestly that’s a lot of money for them to lose, and they are using this loophole. So actually, I just want to pause this program personally until they institute this technology, the sidewalk technology, and then pick it back up. And that’s how I feel.”

Council directed staff to close that loophole and begin re-negotiating its contract with Bird and Lime as the clock winds down on the temporary program and the deadline to decide on a new, permanent program approaches.

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[…] we talked about the survey on the micromobility program, we discussed the importance of a scientific survey,” Meister told City Manager David Wilson. “Having a survey posted on the […]

George
George
11 months ago

I wish Long Beach would ban the scooter/electric bikes. A woman riding her electric bike bike her small children in seats behind her was killed after crashing into a car. Those things go much faster then a normal bike. The deceased woman’s children were not badly hurt thankfully. Ride a normal bike and/or walk/run. Get some exercise! We could all use more of that. I like roller blading to but on the bike pathway not on the streets or sidewalk. To hard to stop fast in heavily trafficked areas.

Cindy
Cindy
1 year ago

Scooters don’t bother me. There aren’t all that many of them.
Seems people don’t have enough things to gripe about.

JR Birdsong
JR Birdsong
1 year ago

Why on Earth would non-residents be involved in making decisions about things in West Hollywood? They do not pay taxes, they do not live in WeHo, and all they do is come here to party, get drunk, and do damage. Just the other night, went out to walk the pup and damn near stumbled over a scooter. WHO do I SUE if that would have happened? No Scooters in WeHo. The scooter folks do not give a ratz arse where they leave them, or where they ride them, because they know there is no kind of law enforcement! WHO is… Read more »

No Scooters Allowed.jpeg
Steve Carry
Steve Carry
1 year ago

While I don’t live in WeHo, I too have issues with these scooters. LA has some of the same problems.

George
George
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Carry

I wish Long Beach would ban the scooters and electric bikes. They are dangerous and VERY annoying! Ride a normal bike or walk. Get some exercise. I bet you need it!

Carolyn Campbell
Carolyn Campbell
1 year ago

Amen! Glad the brakes were put on this nightmare. Maybe do a bit more promotion about our great CITYLINE bus service that gets people around town.

Plagiarism vs. Consensus
Plagiarism vs. Consensus
1 year ago

For an experiment for a time perhaps the Mayor should speak first on all agenda items to eliminate her practice of listening to the input of her colleagues and then artfully making pronouncements that the ideas and will are hers. That is known as a form of plagiarism not gathering consensus.

Plagiarism vs. Consensus
Plagiarism vs. Consensus
1 year ago

My mistake, protocol suggests that the Mayor, supposedly in control of the meeting, speaks last. Plagiarism & mistruths will emerge from Sepi Shyne at any moment. How about the fact that she now claims she is NOT a person of color?

Joshua88
Joshua88
1 year ago

She just wants to pause this *personally.*

Seems everything is personal with the mayor.

Mj Godges
Mj Godges
1 year ago

From what I’ve seen, and narrowly avoid, the SIDEWALK scooter racers are mainly joy riding tourists. If a resident genuinely wants one, it’s cheaper to just buy one. They are smaller and collapsible. Lotsa commuters on the trains and busses carry them like skateboards.

Mikie Friedman
Mikie Friedman
1 year ago
Reply to  Mj Godges

If you can see it, and I can see it, why can’t the City Council majority see that most of these rental scooters are ridden by joyriding tourists?? I’ll tell you why…because all they’re seeing is dollar signs. Well, they got a real strong dose of reality last Monday at the meeting when they found out that the only dollar signs visible are the ones that are going to the scooter companies! My message to the majority of the city Council is, “ban the dangerous scooters, protect your constituents, and stop spending the taxpayers money hiring expensive and unnecessary consulting… Read more »

Steve Carry
Steve Carry
1 year ago
Reply to  Mj Godges

Yes, I agree. These things are a distraction to say the least.

Michael G Labarbera
Michael G Labarbera
1 year ago

A poll about a program that primarily impacts the residents of West Hollywood should be answered by West Hollywood RESIDENTS ONLY!

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 year ago

Looks like Sepi is feeling the heat from those of us here who want her gone. She is throwing us a bone!

Manny
Manny
1 year ago

The business model for on-demand scooters is based on unaccountability, anonymity, disposability, impulse, fleecing of individuals who can least afford it, anti-social and self centered recklessness. There is no intelligent need in the world for rent-a-scooters. These scooter companies have no interest in cooperating with community well-being. Doing so would defeat their purpose.

NO to on-demand scooters.

City Negligence
City Negligence
1 year ago
Reply to  Manny

Hopefully a shrewd attorney will be able to make a case against the City for Negligence in the Meister case. A reasonable person, company or city should have easily anticipated the potentially dangerous outcome. The burden should not be on the pedestrian.

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