Miami Beach Scooter Operator Suspended for Not Answering Police Calls

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Miami Beach Scooter Operator Suspended for Not Answering Police Calls:

City ordinance requires 24-hour availability to respond to violations

Mopeds 305, a scooter operator in Miami Beach, is prohibited from doing business in the City for 30 days following a fifth violation of an ordinance that requires rental scooter operators to have someone available at all times to respond to Police or Code Compliance calls regarding violations by renters. Following reports of out of control scooter operators during Spring Break, Commissioners passed an ordinance last year mandating that scooters be equipped with GPS tracking devices, unique IDs visibly affixed to their front and sides, and 24/7 operators for law enforcement to call to request a shutdown of the scooter. In that case, renters lose any money they have paid including their deposit.

“As you know, we had received many complaints about scooters being out of control in South Beach,” City spokeswoman Melissa Berthier wrote in an email. “Sadly, when Police or Code would contact the scooter rental companies to shut down a scooter that had been operated recklessly (in accordance with our ordinance), the companies were often not responsive and there was no opportunity to leave a message.”
“Yesterday, by virtue of 5 offenses where a company was not responsive, our City Manager signed an order suspending the BTR of one of the larger businesses renting scooters located at 1659 James Avenue. This will be a 30-day closure, effective today, and the business will be shut down,” Berthier said.

Members of the Commission’s Neighborhoods and Quality of Life Committee discussed the scooter ordinance earlier this week as part of a larger discussion about crime and issues with large crowds gathering in the City’s Entertainment (MXE) District without masks or social distancing. While the issue is coming to a head during the pandemic, some are calling for a complete overhaul of the MXE and Ocean Drive, in particular, as videos of fights and drunken behavior have gone viral on social media, some resulting in national media attention as COVID-19 cases continue to soar here.

At the Committee meeting, Commissioner Mark Samuelian noted the number of scooters riding on the sidewalk. Miami Beach Police Major Enrique Doce said the Police Department was having a problem with operators not answering calls from police. The ordinance, Doce said, “is an amazing tool. Unfortunately, the rental companies have not been so forthcoming and willing to accept our phone calls recently.”  

MBPD Chief Rick Clements added, the companies “worked very well with us in the past” but, he said, they “have not been as cooperative this time around… There’s no way to get in touch with them.”

“Quite frankly, they’re putting more scooters out there,” Clements said. “That makes it virtually impossible for us to stay on top of.”

Under the ordinance, the City Manager has the authority to revoke a BTR or business license after the fourth offense. Samuelian said he would bring language to a future Commission meeting to tighten up the law.  

In addition to Mopeds 305 which operates at 1659 James Avenue, Beach Scooter Rentals at 1743 Bay Road has also been cited for not having an operator available. 

Photo of scooter operators running red light, courtesy Mirielle Enlow

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