Miami Beach Commissioner Wants to Ban New Scooter Rental Businesses

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Miami Beach Commissioner Wants to Ban New Scooter Rental Businesses:

Tougher restrictions on existing businesses approved

Miami Beach continues to crack down on bad scooter behavior, passing tougher restrictions on operators that include prohibiting overnight rentals, limits on inventory, and increased fines. Meanwhile, Commissioner David Richardson wants to go a step further by banning new scooter rental businesses though he says he’s exploring an all-out ban. 

At their meeting this past week, Commissioners passed on second and final reading, an ordinance that limits the maximum number of scooters in a fleet to 25. In addition, overnight rentals will now be prohibited with rental hours restricted to between 7 pm and 7 am each day. Businesses will be responsible for ensuring scooters are returned by 7 pm; if not, the City has the authority to “impound and confiscate” any scooters on public property between the prohibited hours of 7 pm through 7 am. There are also increased penalties for violations.

Under the new law, the City Manager now has the ability to order the “immediate suspension and closure” of scooter rental businesses during a declared “high impact period” such as Spring Break.

The sponsor of that ordinance, Commissioner Mark Samuelian said, “This is addressing what I think has been a critical quality of life concern.”  He acknowledged it does not solve all of the issues with bad scooter behavior, “but I do think it is an important step forward,” he said.

Co-sponsor Commissioner Steven Meiner said he still had reservations the ordinance doesn’t go far enough but he supported its intent.

Potentially coming, a ban on new scooter rental companies. Commissioner David Richardson is proposing an ordinance that would ban future rentals or leases of several types of vehicles including golf carts, low-speed vehicles, mopeds, motorcycles that are powered by a motor with a displacement of 50 cubic centimeters or less, motorized bicycles, and motorized scooters. Golf courses would be exempt from the prohibition concerning the rental or lease of golf carts and existing businesses would be allowed to continue operating as a legal non-conforming use. 

In July, when Samuelian first proposed the tighter restrictions, Richardson indicated he wanted an all-out ban on these types of vehicles. “As a first step, I’m looking at this approach but I’m still exploring filing an all-out ban,” he said this week.

Panama City did just that, passing a law in 2017 banning motorized scooters specifically. It gave operators three years to wind down operations, taking effect in September 2020. A State appeals court last fall upheld the ban.

Richardson’s proposed ordinance will be discussed at Tuesday’s Land Use and Sustainability Committee meeting as well as the Planning Board meeting that same day. Details on the item are here.

Details on the new restrictions on current operators passed by the Commission on September 16 are here.

Photo: Mirielle Enlow

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