Outlaw Scooters

By: Hermelinda Vargas
By: Hermelinda Vargas

What do cities do when their state outlaws something it supports? If you're the city of San Francisco fighting the state of California on the issue of gay marriage, you let gay people get married anyway.

If you're the city of Port St. Joe you might just make up your own rules about scooters and public roadways.

On a sunny day, this Pt. Saint Joe street and others would be filled with children and teenagers riding scooters, or maybe they wouldn't. As it stands now, City Hall and the city police department can't seem to agree on whether it's legal for them to do so if they are under age 16 and do not have a driver's license.

And even among commissioners there is disagreement. A week ago Tuesday, Mayor Pate and the other city commissioners passed a law to allow anyone under age 16 to ride scooters in all but the busiest city streets and roads.

Depending on who you ask, the new city law is in direct conflict with state law.

"In my mind, I knew we were breaking the law to start with, but I went along with it, just because everybody else seemed to be for it, but I didn't think it would fly to start with,” says Mayor Frank Pate.

Commissioner John Reeves says, "The law is very unclear as to the definition of a motorized scooter is. With it being unclear, I wanted to err on the side of the kids in this community in allowing them to ride their scooters on our streets"

Police Chief James Hersey wouldn't speak on camera, but says that until he reviews last Tuesday's city commissioner meeting, he is treating all child and unlicensed teenage scooter riders that ride in the street as he always has, as illegal operators.

In the meantime, commissioners say they will likely rescind or revise the motion they passed based on the city attorney's advice.

The next meeting dealing with the issue will be the first Tuesday in March at 6 p.m. in the evening.


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