“In the past few months, my office has been inundated by reports from upset residents regarding motorized scooters on the boardwalk,” said Zapf, flanked by interim Lifeguard chief Lt. James Gartland and SDPD Northern Division Capt. Tina Williams, in front of Mission Beach Lifeguard Station. “They say the scooters are going way too fast, causing accidents and making the boardwalk right-of-way dangerous.”
Characterizing pedestrians as “obstacles” motorized riders “weave around,” and the boardwalk itself as a “human slalom course,” Zapf read a couple of representative emails calling for action to curb motorized vehicles.
“Please get these motorized scooters off the boardwalk, they’re create a serious public safety issue for everyone,” said one email.
“Scooters are riding on the boardwalk with no regard for those walking, biking or riding skateboards,” said another email.
Interim lifeguard chief, Lt. James Gartland, thanked Zapf for “getting out in front of this,” adding, “Our rescue count goes up five times in June and climbs as well with the crowds through July and August. We have to focus our energy on the water and the beach. The boardwalk will be much safer if you take the motorized scooters off.”
Gartland said there has been a distinct “uptick” in accidents, fortunately none serious so far, in the past couple months since motorized scooters appeared on the boardwalk.
“We’ve issued 27 citations for running a motorized scooter on a sidewalk, 182 citations for motorized riders without helmets, and issued seven citations for someone riding with a passenger on their scooter,” Capt.Williams said, adding public service announcements will be forthcoming to educate the public on where motorized scooters can and cannot ride legally.
“Speed is the main problem,” said Mission Beach Town Council president Gary Wonacott. “We have the summer coming. We know there are going to be a lot more people on the boardwalk. We thank Zapf for this initiative.”
“This is a public safety issue,” reiterated Zapf. “We need to take action. My job is to protect the citizens and reduce the liability to the city.”
Zapf said she will ask the full City Council May 22 to approve a motorized scooter ban on the boardwalk, as well as asking counsel to clarify what’s legal and what’s not regarding where, and how, motorized scooters can be operated. Zapf said electric carts for the disabled would not be covered in the proposed boardwalk motorized ban.