San Diego

Bird: City Didn't Follow Permit Rules When Impounding Scooters

Bird is facing $67,275 in impound fees to recover its scooters

During Comic-Con weekend, the city of San Diego impounded more than 2,000 scooters and bikes it says were illegally parked near the Convention Center. It will cost the operating companies $65 per device to get them back.

Among the impounded scooters, 1,035 belonged to Bird Scooter. Now, Bird is questioning whether the city followed its own guidelines before impounding the scooters.

In an email to NBC 7, a spokesperson for Bird said the “E- scooters were impounded without following the guidelines for doing so as laid out in the permits issued by the city. Impounds were also made without evidence of violation. We are working with the city to understand how these impounds came to be given those two factors.”

Under a city ordinance that took effect on July 1, the city is supposed to give the scooter companies three hours’ notice to collect their illegally parked or staged devices. But in this case, a city spokesperson says there was an exception.

“The City is within its rights to enforce its regulations and impound shared mobility devices. The San Diego Municipal Code allows the City to impound devices immediately without notice to the operators when devices are in a condition or are parked in a manner that poses a public safety hazard to residents,” said public information officer Scott Robinson in a statement to NBC 7.

Bird is facing $67,275 in impound fees to recover its scooters.

"We are working with city officials on next steps for retrieving our vehicles and look forward to continuing to engage with them on ways to make the most of having e-scooters in town. Bird is a very popular method of travel around Comic-Con, as conference attendees prefer to opt out of the car and onto an easier, more affordable mode of transit. We hope to continue to work with the city on ways to encourage this important mode-shift that is good for the local economy and environment,” a Bird spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, officials for Lime and Lyft said they will pay the impound fees and continue to work with the city.

Lime had 684 of its devices impounded and faces fees totaling $44,460.

"We're committed to providing the best possible service for the community, and we’ve recently refined our geofencing technology and continue to enhance our product and operations to ensure we comply with local rules and set the standard for micromobility,” said Taylor Bennett, spokesperson for Lime in an email statement.

Lyft had 444 devices impounded and faces $28,860 in fees.

“We value the collaborative relationship we have developed with the City of San Diego and will continue to work to ensure we are in line with agreed upon regulations,” said Lauren Alexander, spokesperson for Lyft in an email statement.

Here’s the breakdown of the scooters and bikes that were impounded by company, according to the city:

  • Bird – 1,035
  • Lime – 684
  • Lyft – 444
  • Jump – 41
  • Skip – 28
  • Spin – 17

Eight city employees used trucks and earned overtime pay to collect the rentals over the weekend, while three more workers stayed at the maintenance yard to organize them.

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