Coronado City Council Defers On LimeBike Permit - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

Coronado City Council Defers On LimeBike Permit

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Posted: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 11:22 am

Perhaps the time for Dockless bicycles simply hasn’t arrived, or maybe it is just a bad idea, but the Coronado City Council opted to not act on a proposed nine-month, non-exclusive permit to allow LimeBike to operate in the city on a trial basis, during the city council meeting of Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. In this case, not taking a formal vote amounted to a rejection of both the business model and the concept by the council. The issue may be revisited by the city council in one year.

LimeBike was founded in June 2017 and currently operates in eight cities, the closest geographically of which is Imperial Beach. It is one of a plethora of similar companies including bluegogo, MoBike, ofo, Sobi, SPIN, UrbnCyclr and Vbikes that deploy bicycles to be shared through communities and dropped off at any location in the city. The bicycles are equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS), which allows the bikes to be tracked through a smartphone application. Rentals in the LimeBike business model cost $1 for 30 minutes, which is charged to your credit card.

The concept is to provide a means to cover the ‘first mile-last mile’ for a rider to connect to public transportation or to just take a short trip. LimeBike representative Kyle McMahon said in part, “Riders can commute anywhere on the Island and drop the bike off when you are done. We view this as an awesome opportunity to make the quality of life better for Coronado residents.”

The item is controversial in nature, sufficiently so that 22 people addressed the city council and weighed in on the issue. Assessing the testimony provided by each, the scorecard read 14 people against Dockless bicycles, seven in favor, while a representative of the Navy and NAS North Island was neutral.

In a sign that the Apocalypse may be upon us, or perhaps Bikealypse, community advocates Carolyn Rogerson and Harold Myers agreed on a matter before the city council. In this case, that LimeBike isn’t for Coronado. Myers said, “We are attempting to solve a problem that I’m not sure we have, which is a shortage of bicycles in Coronado.” Rogerson said that LimeBike, “Wasn’t a good fit for Coronado.” Former City Councilmember Mike Woiwode said, “I am in favor of protecting policy to not use public rights of way for business. That is a slippery and steep slope. There is no limit to the number of requests that can come. It would take something really big for us to justify this (use of the public right of way) and this isn’t it.”

Councilmember Carrie Downey, who was the last to speak on the subject, when the city councilmembers provided their viewpoints said, “We could go into a bazillion reasons not to do this.” Downey was an advocate for hearing proposals from all groups, including the brick and mortar bike-related businesses, and for taking a step back on the issue.

Councilmember Mike Donovan said, “I am mindful that the hotels are not really supportive of this, the Ferry Landing is not supportive and the helmet thing (LimeBike does not provide protective helmets for riders) bothers me. I am mindful of the adverse effects on bike companies that are already here; even a nine-month program could hurt existing businesses. I am mindful of the use of public property. I don’t think at this point Coronado would be a good test case and I don’t think we want to be a test case. I am in no rush to do this. I am a proponent of revisiting this in a year, with feedback from other cities. I’m not real supportive of this right now.”

Councilmember Bill Sandke brought up the issue of public rights of way being used for private businesses and said, “That is really compelling for me. Eight hundred dollars (the proposed annual fee to be paid to the city going forward) is not a meaningful contribution for the use of public lands. I don’t think this is a good fit for our community right now.”

Whitney Benzian took a similar approach and said, “This is a tough call for me. I am not convinced that Coronado is the right place to get this conversation going. It’s too risky for our local businesses right now and I see that in other places. I’m just not convinced. What’s the rush?”

Mayor Richard Bailey said, “If we are comparing Dockless to Docked, I am bullish on the technology and that there is no infrastructure or subsidy from the city. Using the public right of way is something we rarely, if ever, do. There is no time sensitivity. We can take a wait-and-see approach.” Bailey then took the unusual approach on a topic the council spent an hour and 32 minutes considering, which was that no action would be taken at this time, meaning no formal vote would be forthcoming. Bailey added, “This isn’t directed at Limebike, but the concept overall.”

In other City Council actions:

• The council approved the reappointment of Doug Metz to the Cultural Arts Commission for a second, three-year term and Commissioners Sherril Altstadt and Lei Udell to a first, three-year term. Civil Service Commission incumbents Myra Durbin and Marsi Ann Steirer were appointed to second terms. Jory Fentiman was appointed to the Discover Coronado Board and Peter Jensen was appointed to the Planning Commission.

• As part of the Consent Calendar, the council approved the purchase of a backup pump and motor for the Parker Pump Station, located at the foot of Eighth Street and Coronado Avenue. Public Services Director Cliff Maurer noted that a significant amount of water is pumped at the station and that, “Having a spare pump and motor for a critical area is important.”

• In two separate Public Hearings, the council approved a two-lot tentative parcel at 1109 F Avenue in the R-1A Single Family Residential Zone. In the second Public Hearing the council approved a one-lot parcel for two residential units for 853 C Avenue in the R-3 Multiple Family Residential Zone.

• A third Public Hearing to approve the suspension of the city’s Business Tax and to adopt a $25 Business Certificate Fee was opened and continued to the December 19, 2017,city council meeting.

• The council approved an Ad Hoc Committee consisting of Bailey and Donovan to review the City’s Community Grant Program. Bailey expressed the desire to have the new process in place in time to apply to the 2018 Grant requests. Over the past several years, the city has authorized grants which total approximately $1 million annually, to several of the city’s non-profit organizations.

• In a concept brought forward by Councilmember Downey, the council directed city staff to explore new regulations that would curtail or perhaps eliminate construction of basements in Coronado. Any new recommendations would be considered by the Planning Commission and the community-at-large before being brought to the council for final action.

The next meeting of the Coronado City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, at 4 p.m. City Council meetings are held at Coronado City Hall, located at 1825 Strand Way in the city.

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