City Council passes dockless scooter rules
The San Diego City Council approved on April 23 long-awaited rules for governing the dockless bike and scooter companies that over the last year have flooded City streets and boardwalks with the motorized vehicles. After several hours of heated testimony from community members, the Council unanimously approved an ordinance that establishes a permitting process for operators, limits speeds in designated areas and requires all devices to scan a valid driver license before they can be used.
The new rules would go into effect in June, after the Council takes its final vote.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer , whose office drafted the rules, has embraced the technology as a way to implement the City’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for thousands of people to abandon their car commutes in favor of cleaner alternatives.
Scores of residents showed up to the meeting to voice concerns about the growing number of people who have been injured while riding the dockless scooters, especially downtown and along the beach boardwalks.
Representatives from the dockless scooter companies, such as Bird and Lime, also attended the meeting, bringing with them dozens of their employees and freelance workers.
At the same time, disabled residents, including many in wheelchairs, voiced frustration about navigating sidewalks strewn with the dockless devices. Disability Rights California filed a lawsuit in January against the City, Bird, Lime and Razor for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. The national nonprofit has claimed the City has failed to keep the public right-of-way safe for disabled residents.
To address these concerns, the City has started painting parking corrals (6-by-10-foot rectangles) in the street next to curbs downtown. Parking dockless vehicles on sidewalks along blocks with corrals is prohibited under the rules. The City plans to install more than 300 of them downtown and then expand to beach communities.
Reps from the scooter companies said they supported the new rules but repeatedly asked the City to lower permitting fees and reconsider restrictions on parking.
Residents will be able to report violations using the City’s “Get It Done” app at sandiego.gov Companies will have three hours to retrieve the vehicles or risk having them impounded. The Police Department said it’s applying for grants to fund overtime for officers to enforce the rules.
Members of the City Council reassured the public that the new rules were just the beginning of an ongoing process to regulate dockless vehicle operators. District 1 Council member Barbara Bry, who led the charge to draft regulations, called for reviving a proposed ban on all dockless mobility devices along the boardwalk. “Last summer, I did support an emergency ban on the boardwalks,” she said. “I think the situation is even worse.”
Council members Mark Kersey (District 5) and Jennifer Campbell (District 2) also said they would support a ban if it came before council. Campbell said: “These devices are a threat to our public health for riders and walkers. I hear from health officials and community members almost daily about the negligence and bodily harm induced by these devices. Just last night, a woman on Pacific Highway broke her leg falling off a scooter.” —Joshua Emerson Smith
Belmont Park unveils new rides for spring
In honor of Belmont Park’s Sweet Shoppe celebrating its 20th year anniversary and the sale of over 900,000 gallons of ice cream (that’s more than 27 million scoops!), the Tilt-A-Whirl has been given a sweet makeover. It now features seven ice cream cone-themed pods that rotate on individual tracks, mounted on a rotating platform.
Additionally, Belmont Park, 3146 Mission Blvd., presents the new space-themed adrenaline drop ride, Zero Gravity. The ride features a circular gondola that rises, twists and drops. Both of these rides cost $5 (five tickets). For more information, visit belmontpark.com
Make way for Rose Creek Bikeway
Crews have begun the permanent removal of parking on the west side of Santa Fe Street, between Karl Strauss Brewing Co. (5965 Santa Fe St.) and Coventry Cars of San Diego (5097 Santa Fe St.), in preparation for construction of the Rose Creek Bikeway. Portions of Santa Fe Street will be intermittently reduced to a single lane to accommodate construction, but businesses along the route will remain accessible. The construction will typically take place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., and will include utility work, drainage improvement, street widening and bikeway construction. For details, visit keepsandiegomoving.com or contact the construction hotline at (877) 379-0110.
‘Secret Garden’ reveals hidden talents at Barnard School
More than 50 first through fifth grade students from Barnard Mandarin Magnet Elementary School, 2445 Fogg St., showcased their singing and acting talents on March 22 in Missoula Children’s Theatre’s production of “The Secret Garden,” a light-hearted adaption of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic novel. The musical was put together on a time crunch, with auditions being held on Monday, rehearsals taking place throughout the week and the show performed that Friday night. Missoula Children’s Theatre is a touring theater company whose week-long visit has been sponsored by Barnard PTA for the past four years.
Multi-family property sold to private investor for $9 million
La Playa Corona, 24-unit multi-family apartment building at 1621 La Playa Ave. in Crown Point, was sold by CBRE to a private investor for $9 million. The 17,600-square-foot property consists of 17 one-bedroom apartments and seven units with two or more bedrooms, a swimming pool, resort-style central courtyard and laundry room.
“This is a very well-maintained asset located in a highly desirable beach neighborhood in San Diego,” said Allen Chitayat, who represented the buyer, an LA-based investor. “There is a reason this property has only traded three times in 40 years. The buyer recognized the rare opportunity to acquire a complex of this size in PB and plans to upgrade the interior and hold on to the asset long term.”
Stadium lot to host overnight parking
As San Diego considers a new law prohibiting people from living in their vehicles on City streets, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and District 7 City Council member Scott Sherman announced on April 16 that a seldom-used parking lot (corner of Friars Road and Mission Village Drive near the entrance to SDCCU Stadium) will become a legal place to park overnight within the next 45 days.
While the new lot will provide social services for homeless people looking for help, Faulconer said, the new law will prohibit people looking to take advantage of the City from living in other other people’s neighborhoods.
The program will be funded for one year with $300,000 in state Homeless Emergency Aid Program funds (San Diego received $14.1 million in HEAP funding).
It will be the third City-run safe parking lot for homeless people and the first to allow recreational vehicles. Up to 80 RVs or 200 standard vehicles can fit on the site, and Jewish Family Service has been contracted to provide portable showers, restrooms and staff members to help connect people with services that could lead to permanent housing.
In March, District 2 Council member Jennifer Campbell proposed using South Shores Parking Lot near SeaWorld as a safe parking lot, but that proposal is off the table because it is in designated park land.
Robert Ewing, who is homeless and lives in an RV, also attended the news conference and said he did not think the site would be popular with recreational vehicle owners because it is on a slope and too far from coffee shops and inexpensive food. He questioned why the City doesn’t allow vehicle dwellers to park in industrial areas where they would not bother residents.
Jewish Family Service also operates a 60-space City-funded lot in Kearny Mesa and a 60-space safe parking lot on City property off Aero Drive near Interstate 15. The nonprofit Dreams for Change operates a 30-space safe-parking lot at a church on 28th Street and a 50-spot lot at 5605 Imperial Ave., where some RVs are allowed to park 24 hours. —Gary Warth
Mid-Coast Trolley marks halfway point by thanking construction workers
Early in the morning on Friday, March 29, local leaders gathered at the construction staging near the Voigt Drive Trolley station to celebrate the Mid-Coast Trolley’s construction halfway point. They served breakfast burritos and coffee to construction crews while offering a message of thanks and praise for their hard work.
“This is a major milestone for a major project,” said San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Board Chair and Mayor of Poway Steve Vaus. “Not only is this project large in scale, but its impact on the San Diego region is bound to be monumental. This is the largest public transit project in our region’s history. It’s costing $2.1 billion. You — the women and men building walls, laying rails, and pouring concrete — are the ones making this possible.”
At its construction halfway point, the Mid-Coast Trolley project remains on schedule and budget. The project will extend Blue Line Trolley service from Old Town north to the University City community, serving major activity centers such as Mission Bay Park, the VA Medical Center, UC San Diego, and University Town Center. Nine new stations will be constructed. Major construction work began in 2016, with service anticipated to begin in late 2021. For more information, visit keepsandiegomoving.com