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State Preemption and Electric Scooters

The great battle between local control and state preemption shifts focus again in California. This time micromobility, electric scooters and the like, are on the front line of the conflict.
May 21, 2019, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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John Dvorak

David Zipper, fellow at the German Marshall Fund, writes of an effort in the California State Legislature to preempt local laws regarding micromobility devices, like electric scooters, e-bikes, and dockless bike share.

"Should it become law in its current form, Assembly bill 1112 (AB 1112) could curtail cities’ ability to: ensure micromobility access in underprivileged communities, establish caps on the total number of vehicles, or collect trip information to improve transportation policy," explains Zipper.

Zipper's preference for local control is obvious, but so is the concern for equitable outcomes. "As approved by the Legislature’s Assembly committee on April 30, AB 1112 includes language that would prevent local micromobility regulations 'requiring operation below cost.' That could block cities from pursuing equity goals, such as Oakland’s requirement that half of all shared e-scooters be placed in 'communities of concern' as identified by the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission." 

Any surprise about the state of California preempting local authority laws can be tempered by the recent failure of SB 50, a statewide housing law that would have implemented new land use regulations in cities all over the state.

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Published on Friday, May 17, 2019 in CityLab
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