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A University of Georgia student rides a Bird scooter across campus on Sept. 4. UGA and Athens-Clarke County police started ticketing riders who do not follow the road rules for the electric scooters. Scooters can only be ridden on the roads or in bike lanes, not on sidewalks. 

Downtown bars and the company Bird may both face some changes in how they conduct business in Athens-Clarke County.

At a meeting of the Athens-Clarke County Legislative Review Committee, members and staff met to discuss the possibility of increasing the minimum price of an alcoholic drink downtown and increasing restrictions on the use of certain motorized vehicles on public property — the most notable being the electric Bird scooters whizzing around town.

Since 2007, alcoholic beverages are prohibited from being sold or advertised for less than $1, but after a Downtown Public Health Study was released earlier this year, there has been a push from local lawmakers to increase the minimum price in order to combat alcohol-induced health risks.

Robert Hiss, ACC assistant manager, said he was working on gathering data in order to get information for a future ordinance.

“We are going to talk to some other cities — specifically Savannah, Augusta, Columbus and maybe Macon,” Hiss said.

Hiss also said that they would emphasize focusing on college towns that are similar in size to Athens and plans to ask their local officials if they have similar ordinances.

Hiss said in his research he found that when drafting the 2007 ordinance, the original minimum amount was $3. It ended up decreasing before the final draft was passed, implying this amount would be an option for a future ordinance.

Scooters were also a high priority for the LRC. After their use was restricted by the University of Georgia in August, ACC is taking it one step further.

A piece of emergency legislation has been drafted that would amend the code of ACC so that Bird Scooters and other “shareable dockless mobility devices” would be prohibited from being located and operated on public property and from being “offered for any use in Athens-Clarke County.”

This ordinance outlines several other stipulations including, the maximum period of the ordinance would be 12 months, a notice will be sent to “any registered agent of any and all companies currently operating shareable dockless mobility devices within Athens-Clarke County,” and they will subsequently have 10 days to remove all devices before offenders of the ordinance would have their devices impounded by ACC.

The LRC staff recognized this legislation has a time limit and focused their discussion on permanent solutions to the issue and specific details to include in a future version of the ordinance.

Sherrie Hines, assistant attorney at the ACC Attorney’s Office, talked specifically about the inclusion of impound rates in the ordinance.

“We need to decide whether or not to include impound fees just like when we tow vehicles with parking tickets — at least for consistency’s sake” Hines said.

The LRC also discussed mandating a ratio between docking stations for the vehicles and the vehicles themselves in the future

“We would need the number of docks to equal the number of vehicles. There needs to be some sort of minimum ratio,” said District 4 commissioner Allison Wright. “This is something we have to nail down and modify within the next 12 months because it’s happening so fast right now.”

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