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Council members look to regulate dockless scooters, welcome Miss LCF Court

Council members look to regulate dockless scooters, welcome Miss LCF Court
Members of the La Cañada Flintridge City Council pose with the 2019 Miss La Cañada Flintridge Royal Court on Tuesday. (Sara Cardine)

Joining a host of Southland cities, La Cañada Flintridge is preparing for an anticipated influx of electronic scooters — the kind currently clogging rights-of-way in Santa Monica and Venice — vowing to regulate them even if it means partnering with their makers.

City Council members acknowledged La Cañada has not yet been bombarded by the dockless scooters, distributed by companies like Bird and Lime and rented through simple cellphone apps, but should be considering potential problems before they begin.

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“Once they hit an area they hit it hard, so I’d like to see us get ahead of it,” Mayor Terry Walker said during a discussion on the topic at Tuesday’s regular council meeting.

Several scooters were recently left unattended in the parking lot of one retailer and removed days later with no further incident reported. In October, members of the city Public Safety Commission discussed the issue of shared mobility devices and recommended the city take no action but enforce use under the California Vehicle Code.

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Council members said Tuesday they’d prefer to develop some kind of ordinance, to be employed through a temporary pilot program, to further assure the city would not be liable for accidents or blocked pedestrian access occurring on sidewalks, which falls outside the purview of the vehicle code.

“The biggest issue for me is you drive down the street and see 10 of them lined up,” said Councilman Mike Davitt. “It would be nice to have a few things in play.”

City Manager Mark Alexander and City Atty. Adrian Guerra said they looked to several other cities for precedent. Beverly Hills instituted a six-month ban and was sued, Alexander said, while West Hollywood passed an ordinance last June prohibiting unpermitted uses, but allowing the scooters to travel through the city and fining companies for each abandoned unit.

Guerra said other cities welcomed the scooters as a low-cost means of accessing public transportation and reducing vehicle travel. Cities can partner with scooter manufacturers who can control vehicle use remotely, capping speed limits and making them unusable at certain times or in certain areas.

“If the council was interested in working with these companies, we would be able to attempt to negotiate those kinds of issues, where they park and trying to keep it with the city monitoring the number that are in the city,” he added.

Ultimately, the City Council directed staff to prepare a temporary pilot program that would regulate the operation and disbursement of shared mobility devices in the public right of way and invite manufacturers to speak with officials and potential partner on a monitoring plan.

City employees prep for moving day

La Cañada’s current city hall building will be closed intermittently in February as employees make final plans to move into a new headquarters building in the city’s Town Center in coming weeks, City Manager Mark Alexander told the City Council Tuesday.

The current building at 1327 Foothill Blvd. will be closed this Friday, Feb. 8 and again on Feb. 15. Employees will begin their move during the President’s Day weekend, with the bulk of the move happening on Saturday, Feb. 16, Alexander said.

On Feb. 20, the city will officially reopen for business in the new location. The regular City Council meeting scheduled for Feb. 19 will be cancelled to accommodate the move, while the council’s March 5 meeting will be planned for Lanterman Auditorium as a contingency in case construction is not fully complete.

March 19 will mark the first council meeting to take place in the new location. On that day, a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled to take place, Alexander said.

Miss LCF Court introduced

Also Tuesday, council members were formally introduced to the Miss La Cañada Flintridge Court, crowned during the Jan. 17 La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce Installation, Awards and Coronation event.

Coordinator Katherine Markgraf introduced Queen Francesca Christensen of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and princesses La Cañada High School’s Audrey Raulli, Sarah Peck from FSHA, Flintridge Preparatory School’s Sophie Lin and Kat Hightower from Campbell Hall School in Studio City.

“I always find it fascinating to see the court when they first come and then to see them at the end of the year,” said Mayor Walker. “I think you’re going to find it a really rewarding experience.”

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