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San Francisco Swats Scooter Companies With Cease-And Desist Orders

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- City officials fed up with electric scooters left blocking sidewalks and building entrances issued cease-and-desist orders Monday to San Francisco's three largest scooter rental companies.

It's the latest step in an escalating legal dispute between the city and the rental companies --- Bird Rides Inc., Skinny Labs Inc aka Spin and LimeBikes. Last week, public works inspectors began impounding abandoned scooters left scattered around San Francisco.

The firms allow customers to rent scooters and then simply leave them on the ground when they arrive at their destination. The city attorney's office says the practice is "a public nuisance and public safety hazard."

The orders also cite the dangers facing pedestrians who often have to dodge scooters as they race by on the sidewalks and for failing to inform rental customers that they are required to wear helmets when operating a scooter to comply with state law.

"We cannot overstate the public safety hazard that operating motorized scooters pose on city sidewalks," the orders read. "The scooters do not display a warning to riders that it is unlawful to operate them on the sidewalks."

City officials also claim that the firms do not retrieve scooters in a timely manner so they end up piled up around popular destination like the San Francisco Ferry Building and in city's Financial District.

"We are very supportive, I would say collectively, of different modes of transportation but it cannot impede on pedestrian safety," said San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang.

"We're happy to work with the city and be a responsible partner with the community and bring sustainable transportation to San Francisco," said Bird Director of Government Affairs Carl Hansen.

The orders gave the firms until April 30 to present a plan to the city to address the concerns. Until those plans are filed and approved, the firms "must cease and desist any operations that result in unlawful conduct by its customers on the city's public streets and sidewalks."

The city's Department of Public Works has begun impounding scooters, saying it will take necessary steps to respond to any improper obstructions of public property and public right of way. DPW will also seek reimbursement from the companies for the costs.

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