The Los Angeles City Council approved regulations for the dockless electric scooter industry Friday, approving an ordinance to create an official pilot program.
The council's 12-1 vote in favor of the ordinance was mostly procedural, since much of the debate on the issue occurred earlier this month and the council approved the general guidelines last week on a 10-1 vote. But a new ordinance requires at least 12 votes on first consideration or it must return for a second vote.
Councilman Paul Koretz, who has been raising concerns about the safety of the devices, was the lone vote in opposition to the program, as he was last week.
"Making it legal doesn't make it safe. I still doubt whether these can operate appropriately," Koretz said last week.
If signed by the mayor, the one-year pilot program will apply not just to scooters, but to any shared mobility devices, capping the number of devices to 3,000 per company, with the opportunity to add more if they are placed in disadvantaged communities.
The program also allows any company to apply for a conditional use permit of up to 3,000 devices in the interim 120 days before the pilot program becomes active.
After demonstrating compliance with program requirements and meeting certain performance criteria, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation can allow companies to increase their fleet size, but the program does not specify a cap on such expansion.
The dockless Lime and Bird scooters have proliferated in Westside communities over the last year, leaving local governments scrambling with how to regulate them. The city of Beverly Hills recently banned them for six months, while Santa Monica last month created a 16-month pilot program which caps the number of scooters allowed on the streets.
The scooters work through a phone app that allows people to find and unlock the devices and drop them off anywhere they are allowed, with no docking station or kiosk required.
The council also approved a top speed of the scooters of 15 mph, which is the speed already offered by Bird and Lime.
The new regulations require companies to equip the scooters with a minimum 48-point font warning against riding on sidewalks. Companies also must maintain a 24-hour hotline and respond to improperly parked or inoperable devices within two hours, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In the future, operators will be required to use technology that can tell if a device is parked upright. They city may also designate parking areas for the devices in high-traffic areas.