San Marcos City Council members passed an ordinance on first reading at a Dec. 17 meeting that, if passed on second reading, would prohibit the use of motor-assisted scooters.
Though the drafted ordinance states “It is an offense for any person to operate a motor-assisted scooter on any public property, public park (including natural areas and open spaces), public sidewalk, public way, public street, or public highway within the city or any city-owned property located outside the corporate limits of the city,” it excludes mopeds, motorcycles, motor-assisted bicycles and motorized mobility devices designed as a form of transportation for a person with disabilities.
Nearby cities have also worked to regulate scooter use. Austin approved scooter use on public sidewalks last spring, while other cities, such as Dripping Springs, have put bans in place.
People operating motor-assisted scooters would be subject to a citation or scooter impoundment. Based on the current ordinance draft, there would be a fine of no more than $500 for those riding the scooters.
City Council members discussed fine and impoundment amendments to the ordinance draft, suggesting the fine be no more than $25 for the offenders while also providing a grace period before issuing citations and providing a better notification process for scooter owners before impoundment. Assistant City Attorney Sam Aguirre and Director of General Services Lee Hitchcock said they would have amendments ready for the second reading of the ordinance.
While the majority of City Council members were on board with the ordinance, as they argued it was addressing a safety issue, Council Member Maxfield Baker suggested drafting different city regulations that would make it safer to ride scooters instead of prohibiting them.
“I think there are concerns, but I would rather regulate those concerns as opposed to entirely throwing out our ability to have a motor transportation that frankly, I don’t see much problem with, other than we don’t have the infrastructure or the culture that is used to those,” Baker said.
The ordinance that would prohibit the use of motor-assisted scooters on public property passed with a vote of 5-1, with Baker opposing. Council Member Mark Rockeymoore was not present at the meeting.