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.
“Lime is pleased with the decision and we appreciate the hearing officer for recognizing our compliance in San Diego,” said Lime in a released statement. “As San Diego’s longest-serving operator, we value our partnership with the City and look forward to continuing to serve the community."
PB business owner Junior Leoso felt the decision sends the wrong message.
“Among many of the problems this presents ... It also starts a precedent that the scooters have more power than we're ready to admit,” said Leoso. “Our city should have cited them instantly and often. I think the scooters are a ‘step in the right direction,’ but still, lack the follow-through that'll make them a standard in our beach town.”
PB restaurateur Joe Bettles of Konito’s and Kono’s cafes had a different take.
“While I would like to see (scooter) regulations enforced, I think the failure of this lawsuit demonstrates that regulation is costly and difficult to enforce,” Bettles said. “If the goal is to keep the volume of scooters at a reasonable level and improve safety, we might be better served by imposing higher taxes.
“A higher cost for Lime would lower the number of scooters and the tax revenue collected could go towards infrastructure, which would make riding a scooter or bicycle much safer in PB,” Bettles said.
“I sat through two days of the Lime hearing and one thing in particular stuck out to me: Lime's own experts doubt in the effectiveness of geo-fencing,” said Sarah Mattinson, owner of Olive Cafe on Mission Boulevard.
“If one of the [City’s] contingencies is for reasonable speed limits and Lime is still perfecting their technology then I think the community would be happy to wait until this is truly an effective method. We have plenty of current videos of every company's failed attempts to control their devices,” Mattinson added.
Mission Beach resident Greg Knight noted: “The geo-fencing on the boardwalk does appear to be working now and the scooters on the boardwalk are much more manageable than they were back before the regulations took place. The thing we are seeing now is the company's complete disregard for the City ordinance regarding staging.
“It is almost as if the scooter companies are trying to see how much they can get away with. The ordinance states very clearly that only four scooters can be staged together outside a corral and that there must be 40 feet separating clusters of four,” Knight said. “We are seeing five-plus scooters staged together all the time. The scooter companies have also gone back to staging on the open area near the lifeguard station and completely ignoring the rule of four.”
“While it is frustrating and the wrong message that Lime prevailed at the hearing, I blame the City,” said Mission Beach resident Gary Wonacott. “The City might argue that Lime got by on a technicality. Yes, but the City failed to prepare adequately by not collecting the data and/or expert information necessary to prevail.
“I believe that not having the technical capabilities in-house, or not calling upon expert technical advice, is a systemic problem for the City.”
“The entire bike/scooter process has been another example of this city's ‘ready, shoot, aim’ approach to policy,” said PB activist Scott Chipman. “At minimum, we should have had a full community-by-community vetting of these platforms prior to any implementation. City policymakers have not listened to residents and have been an embarrassment on this issue.”
“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.