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Fountain Valley considers banning electric scooter rentals after 20 show up without a permit

Fountain Valley considers banning electric scooter rentals after 20 show up without a permit
Lime scooters available in Fountain Valley and nearby Santa Ana are shown on the company’s app Wednesday afternoon. (Screenshot / Daily Pilot)

The electric scooter sharing craze has buzzed into Fountain Valley, where officials are considering a ban.

Lime dropped off 20 of its green, black and white rental scooters without a permit near Mile Square Regional Park about two months ago, putting Fountain Valley in a position familiar to nearby cities that reacted to the emerging technology with new regulations and enforcement of existing traffic and business licensing rules.

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“One of our police officers caught them in the act and shooed them away” as Lime representatives deposited the scooters at Euclid Street and Edinger Avenue in January, city planning and building director Brian James told the City Council on Tuesday.

James said Lime did not seek permission and does not have a business license to rent out the dockless, pay-per-minute scooters, which riders can find and unlock anywhere by using a mobile app.

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Lime did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

The devices haven’t gone away — the Lime app showed a few available Wednesday afternoon in Fountain Valley. All were near Mile Square, not far from where they showed up in January.

City staff asked the council whether it wanted rules allowing companies to rent out scooters and bicycles, a ban with the possibility of reevaluating or to continue to take no action other than monitoring.

Scooter- and bicycle-sharing start-ups have received a mixed reception in neighboring cities. Santa Ana allows the devices under a pilot program. Huntington Beach banned them last year. Newport Beach doesn’t have explicit regulations, choosing instead to enforce existing general prohibitions on operating a business without a permit and keeping the devices out of areas where motorized vehicles aren’t allowed, like boardwalks.

Fountain Valley council members seemed to lean toward a ban.

Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl Brothers noted an enforcement dilemma for devices inside Mile Square, which is within city limits but is owned and operated by Orange County.

Councilman Patrick Harper said he wasn’t opposed to Lime’s scooters but didn’t approve of their first impression.

“This kind of asking for forgiveness, I don’t agree with,” he said.

City staff will return to the council with potential restrictions at a later date.

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