La Jolla residents had mixed feelings about a San Diego hearing officer's Dec. 3 decision to deny the city of San Diego’s petition to revoke Lime electric scooter company’s operating permit.
The revocation hearing was scheduled after the city claimed Lime violated geofencing rules set forth in city permit guidelines established in July. The city accused Lime of disobeying geofencing rules that limit scooter speeds to 8 mph in areas like beach boardwalks, Balboa Park and Petco Park.
However, city hearing officer Matthew Freeman determined the city's accusations were based on speedometer reading on scooters and found that the city never investigated the accuracy of the speedometers. Freeman's report also said the city failed to establish that its own speed testing of scooters took place within geofenced zones.
La Jollans weighed in on electric scooters and the hearing officer’s Lime decision.
“This may be a moot point as my understanding is that scooter usage is way down,” said Brett Murphy of La Jolla Sports Club and current president of La Jolla Village Merchants Association, speaking for himself. “I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but apparently their novelty has worn off.”
“There is no doubt need for enforceable and enforcing regulations regarding electric scooters,” said La Jolla landlord Lincoln Foster about the hearing officer’s decision. “Personally, I prefer my 1970 Cadillac Sedan DeVille.”
“Lime is pleased with the decision and we appreciate the hearing officer for recognizing our compliance in San Diego,” said Lime in a statement. “As San Diego’s longest-serving operator, we value our partnership with the city and look forward to continuing to serve the community.”
“We respect the decision and look forward to adopting enhanced scooter regulations, which have already been presented to committee, that give the city even more tools to enforce public safety laws and keep our streets and sidewalks safe," city spokesperson Scott Robinson said.
The city approved new regulations governing electric scooters in July and on Aug. 16, it sent a letter to Lime stating, “Lime was found in violation of San Diego Municipal Code 83.0308, geofencing speed and operating restrictions on July 13, July 14 and Aug. 1. The City’s Development Services Department has requested a hearing to initiate the revocation process.”
Lime responded to the city’s new regulations by creating on-street corrals encouraging riders to stay off sidewalks, and by launching a "Don’t drink and ride" detection feature in its app, which alerts riders after 10 p.m. to confirm they are not intoxicated.
Lime claims 3 million San Diegans have ridden its scooters, while arguing people who can’t afford Uber use scooters to get to work, pointing out they are in business to fill that void. Lime employs about 130 full-time staffers in San Diego, as well as some 3,000 gig-economy workers on a weekly basis.
Among other things, SDMC 83.0308 proscribes that shared mobility devices shall not be parked, displayed, offered, or made available for rent: within 40 feet of another shared mobility device; on city sidewalks or other city property on the block adjacent to a location designated by the city for shared mobility devices; in disabled persons parking zones; within 500 feet of a hospital or school; within six feet in any direction of any sign marking a designated bus stop or trolley stop; or within six feet in any direction of any transit shelter, bench, or information kiosk associated with a bus or trolley stop.