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San Diego Impounds 2,500 E-Scooters During Comic-Con

City officials said the scooters, which have flooded San Diego recently, were removed for violating a new city ordinance that prohibits such devices from being too close to special events, such as Comic-Con.

(TNS) — San Diego impounded more than 2,500 electronic scooters over the Comic-Con weekend, and it’s charging ride-sharing companies a fee to get them back.

City officials said Wednesday the scooters, which have flooded San Diego as they grow in popularity, were removed for violating a new city ordinance that prohibits such devices from being too close to special events, such as the Comic-Con convention downtown.

Others downtown were removed for being parked in a way that posed a threat to public safety, another violation of the new ordinance, which took effect July 1.

According to San Diego spokeswoman Christina Chadwick, a threat to public safety includes devices encroaching into the right of way. Thousands of people at Comic-Con were walking the sidewalks and streets downtown. The event ran from Thursday through Sunday.

“New scooter regulations allow the city to ensure the highest level of public safety while holding permitted scooter operators and users accountable for their actions,” Chadwick said. “We continue to closely monitor them, and if they don’t follow the rules, they will be penalized and could run the risk of not doing business in San Diego anymore.”

Under the new rules, ride-sharing companies have three hours to collect a scooter that violates the ordinance. After that time, they’re impounded and held at one of two locations — a storage facility at the city-owned Miramar Landfill and at a maintenance yard on 20th and B streets in Golden Hill.

The impound fee is $65 per device and a $1 per day storage, though no storage fee was applied to the devices impounded for Comic-Con related reasons.

Chadwick said another 430 devices were picked up throughout the city for violating the new ordinance and the storage fee was applied to these devices.

About 800 scooters have yet to be claimed, Chadwick said.

According to Alex Youn, a spokesperson for the electric-scooter rental company Lime, the fine has been paid and all Lime scooters have been retrieved from city impound lots.

Youn was unable to confirm how much the company paid or how many devices were impounded.

“We’re committed to providing the best possible service for the community, and we’ve recently refined our geofencing technology and continue to enhance our product and operations to ensure we comply with local rules and set the standard for micromobility,” Youn said in an email Wednesday.

Staff at Bird, another e-scooter company, said in a statement that the company has paid for and retrieved all vehicles that were impounded.

“We continue to engage with city officials on ways to make e-scooters manageable and accessible to those who have come to rely on this mode of transportation,” the statement said.

According to Chadwick, city officials met with ride-sharing companies before Comic-Con to discuss event protocols and lay out a plan to avoid congestion of scooters. Officials at Lime said the meeting also established designated parking zones to prevent devices from blocking roadways and sidewalks, but the zones were too small to hold the number of scooters that eventually flooded the area by Sunday.

Lime staff said planning would improve with future events.

©2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.