Dockless scooters on the Pacific Beach boardwalk
Dockless, motorized scooters on the Pacific Beach boardwalk have sparked controversy. Photo by Chris Stone

Upset by continued complaints and injuries, Councilwoman Barbara Bry on Friday called for a moratorium on electric scooters despite new San Diego regulations for the dockless devices.

Bry seeks what an aide termed a ban on electric scooters in San Diego “until we demonstrate that we can develop a fiscally responsible, well-thought out plan that ensures public and environmental safety.”

Scooters and bikes began appearing around the city early last year, and the City Council unanimously approved a regulatory package in April. Mayor Kevin Faulconer first proposed a regulatory framework last October.

But Friday, the mayoral candidate said: “San Diegans deserve a safe, unobstructed and accessible public right of way. Electric scooters have posed challenge after challenge on our city sidewalks, boardwalks and pedestrian walking areas.”

Bry policy director Victoria Joes told Times of San Diego that a ban could be ordered administratively by the mayor or by a vote of the City Council, citing violations of contracts signed by the scooter companies.

Joes said an accumulation of incidents led to Bry’s decision, but the city’s impounding of some 2,500 dockless scooters and bicycles at Comic-Con last week may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In her statement, Bry recalled how last year she was open to working with scooter companies to provide a new affordable transit option — and she hosted a Dockless Vehicle Working Group.

But: “As time progressed, we have witnessed the situation worsen,” said the District 1 councilwoman.

Regarding the rules that took effect July 1, she said the belief was they would help reestablish order on our sidewalks.

“Instead, we are left with companies willfully ignoring staging restrictions and geofencing requirements,” she said in a statement. “Emergency rooms and urgent care centers are filling up with severe injuries. City resources are being wasted to collect and store inappropriately parked devices, and we don’t even know if the fines cover our costs.”
In addition, she said, private companies are picking up scooters left on private property.

“Thousands are piling up in at least one scooter graveyard, posing a long-term environmental hazard.  Enough is enough – scooter companies have had their opportunity,” she said.

Bry’s call for a moratorium quickly drew criticism from representatives of the industry and from other political leaders.

Assemblyman Todd Gloria, the fellow Democrat also seeking the mayor’s post in 2020, opposed the ban.

“Our belief is that there’s probably more regulations that can be enacted regarding scooters, but banning them is not the right way to go,” a spokesman for Gloria told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Council President Pro Tem Bry represents San Diego City Council District 1, which includes the communities of Carmel Valley, Del Mar Heights, Del Mar Mesa, La Jolla, Pacific Highlands Ranch, Torrey Hills, Torrey Pines and University City.

Updated at 5:25 p.m. July 26, 2019.