Company agrees to pay $300k for operating without a license in 2019
By Sam Catanzaro
E-bike company Wheels recently settled for $300,000 with the City of Santa Monica in a consumer protection lawsuit.
On October 6, Santa Monica officials announced that the City Attorney’s Office and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office settled a jointly filed consumer protection lawsuit with Wheels Labs, Inc. Wheels is a shared mobility company that operates a fleet of 200 no-pedal e-bikes in the City of Santa Monica.
Under the settlement, Wheels agreed to pay in the amount of $300,000, with a portion of those funds to go to the street safety organizations Sustainable Streets and Los Angeles Walks.
While Wheels is now a permitted operator in Santa Monica, the company operated in the City without licenses and permits from February to June 2019.
“Like many burgeoning technologies, shared mobility has rapidly changed the transportation sector. But, like all companies operating in Santa Monica, shared mobility operators must comply with all local laws so that the City can provide safe streets and sidewalks for all, and ensure fair competition among companies,” said Eda Suh, Chief of the Public Rights Division of the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office.
When Santa Monica-based Bird launched the scooters in 2017, the city was thrust into the center of the shared-mobility boom. Soon the City established an initial shared-mobility pilot program with four operators: Bird, Jump, Lime and Lyft. On July 1, 2021, the City’s second shared-mobility pilot program went into effect. Initially officials selected three company’s–Veo, Spin and Lyft–to provide both e-bike and e-scooter service in Santa Monica. Wheels, who was not initially selected for inclusion, filed an appeal arguing their devices offer a unique seated scooter device. The City granted the company permission to operate 200 devices in Santa Monica.
Wheels did not respond to a request for comment for this article.