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Council postpones decision on scooter ban

Thursday, January 9, 2020

A decision on a motorized scooter ban in San Marcos has been postponed. 

The San Marcos City Council voted 7-0 during Tuesday’s regular meeting to postpone a vote on ordinance 2019-46, on second reading, which amends the San Marcos City Code by “adding a new Article 9 that prohibits motor-assisted scooters on public property, streets and sidewalks.” 

The ordinance, however, would not apply to mopeds, motorcycles, motor-assisted bicycles or motorized mobility devices designed for transportation of persons with physical disabilities.

Concerns over banning the use of personal motorized scooters as opposed to banning commercial rental motorized scooters arose during discussion regarding the ordinance. 

“We just completed our first year with our pilot program with our bike-share and if you recall we did it in a very measured way and I will commend the council and the community because I think it’s been very successful,” City Manager Bert Lumbreras said during the meeting. “Unlike a lot of other cities that didn’t take the right measured approach and it kind of became a wild west of bikes all over the community and they’re all over the places (which) became a problem. It became a huge safety concern for individuals. So, I couldn’t agree more that this is a very good alternative mode of transportation for our community, I just don’t believe from the infrastructure side, and certainly from the regulation side … I just fear that enacting a program that we are encouraging privately-owned companies on the motor-assisted scooters, it becomes an issue where we don’t have enough staff resources and we can’t keep up with it.”

Mayor Jane Hughson said her concerns regard personal use and the definition of motor-assisted scooter in the ordinance. A motor-assisted scooter is defined in the ordinance as a “ self-propelled device with at least two wheels in contact with the ground during operation, a braking system capable of stopping the device under typical operating conditions; a gas or electric motor not exceeding 40 cubic centimeters; a deck designed to allow a person to stand or sit while operating the device; and the ability to be propelled by human power alone.”

“I understand the hesitancy to have the companies come in and there’s a whole bunch of (motor-assisted scooters) and people are getting on them and don’t know what they’re doing because it’s their first time on and people are getting hurt or they’re hurting somebody else,” Hughson said. “I’m okay with not allowing that at this time. What I’m concerned about is banning a privately owned one where somebody wants to go from their house down the street to the park.

“I am concerned also about the definition,” Hughson added. “Because so many of these things are blending. We’ve got skateboards that now have motors on them but if you don’t have the stick to hold that makes it a scooter that we’re talking about.” 

With the vote to postpone, council is asking city staff to look into how to differentiate between company-owned scooters and personal scooters as well as how can those who own a personal motor-assisted scooter use it in public if the ban is enacted. 

There is no timetable on when the ordinance will be discussed at council again. 

In other business, the council voted to approve the authorization funding in the amount of $30,000 for marketing and promotion of the Go Wheels Up event at the San Marcos Regional Airport organized by Go Wheels Up, LLC. The item originally up for a vote was to authorize funding in the amount of $50,000, however, the council chose to lower the amount following discussion. 

The council voted 6-1 to approve Ordinance 2020-01, which annexes into the city approximately 39.37 acres land out of the Cyrus Wickson Survey, Abstract No. 474, Hays County, generally located at the western corner of South Old Bastrop Highway and Rattler Road. The council then voted 7-0 to approve Ordinance 2020-02, which amends the city’s official zoning map by rezoning approximately 29.4 acres out of the Cyrus Wickson Survey from Future Development District to CD-3 Character District 3, which is primarily intended to accommodate one and two family houses. The council, however, chose to postpone a vote to rezone approximately six acres out of the Cyrus Wickson Survey to CD-5, Character District 5, which is  intended to provide for a variety of residential, retail, service and commercial uses.

San Marcos Record

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