Bird and Lime have recently become as much a part of the Santa Monica landscape as the pier and the Ferris Wheel, but an upcoming decision could change all that in an instant.
According to an email sent out by Bird Monday night, a committee recommended giving control of the shareable scooters in the city of Santa Monica to two ride-sharing companies for Santa Monica's electric scooter pilot program, which launches in September. The city advisory committee recommended that the planning director select Lyft and Jump (which is owned by Uber) to launch their electric bike and scooter operations in Santa Monica.
The final decision won't be made by the city council, but by the city's planning and community development director. The received applications for the pilot program from 13 companies, including Bird and Lime, which can continue to operate under terms of their current permits through Sept. 16.
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Bird's email to customers pleading for help ahead of the decision came along with news that the company would make all its scooters inoperable Tuesday at part of "A Day Without a Scooter." The company urged people to attend Tuesday evening's city council meeting.
The issue is not on the city council meeting agenda, but individuals can speak about it in the regular public comments part of the meeting. Those comments will not be part of the record for the pilot program selection process, the city said.
Instead, the official public comment period is through Aug. 17. Comments can be emailed to email@example.com.
In a statement, Bird said, "Lyft and Uber applications to operate e-scooter sharing programs in Santa Monica demonstrate the desperate lengths CO2 polluting companies will go to for the purpose of undermining clean energy competition. We at Bird are dedicated to replacing car trips with clean energy trips and will continue to fight against car dependency alongside our loyal riders."
The email also argued that "Giving complete control of sustainable transportation alternatives to two ride-share corporations is like giving Exxon and BP Oil a monopoly on solar power."
The Santa Monica City Council approved a pilot program earlier this year that will award contracts to two electric scooter companies and two bike share companies, and each company vying for the contracts submitted detailed plans.
Per the Santa Monica Daily Press, Bird and Lime each performed poorly on the compliance portion of the assessment, while Lyft came out strongest.
Recently, the city of Beverly Hills banned all shareable electric scooters from its city limits.