Pacific Beach revolt against Deco Bikes

Faulconer and Zapf scorned on Grand Avenue

Crystal Pier Hotel was caught unaware of the installation of the nearby Deco Bikes
  • Crystal Pier Hotel was caught unaware of the installation of the nearby Deco Bikes

Deco Bikes brought to you in partnership with the City of San Diego

Deco Bikes brought to you in partnership with the City of San Diego

Late Thursday afternoon (July 23) Deco Bike Racks were installed in two prime locations on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach. Recommendations by the Pacific Beach Town Council and the Pacific Beach Planning Group were apparently ignored by the city. One of the racks is next to Crystal Pier, in the line of sight of the ocean for previously lucky tenants of See the Sea Condominiums. The specifics of the agreement between the city and Deco Bikes have not been disclosed.

The emails being sent to city council members give an idea of the emotions felt by some PB residents. Bill Allen of the Crystal Pier Hotel was caught unware. “We expect and demand the removal of this bike station!” And Holly Bertz, president of the See the Sea Condominiums HOA, was specific. “They are truly an eyesore. The 20-foot tall gray monstrosity kiosk is quite a sight, and the neon green tops for the racks are visual from blocks away.” [Kiosk actually measures 7-½ feet.] Kate Feeley, who grew up in Mission Beach, commented, “Good concept, terrible location. This is very bad for our local bike shops.”

Deco Bikes next to the lifeguard station

Deco Bikes next to the lifeguard station

A press conference was held on Sunday, July 26 at the lifeguard station at the end of Grand Avenue. Brian Curry, chairperson of the Pacific Beach Planning Group said that the city mislead the local planning groups. These spots on the boardwalk are not at all the areas agreed upon for the Deco Bike Racks.

Kevin and Lorie sold your boardwalk

Kevin and Lorie sold your boardwalk

The crowd chanted “Our boardwalk is not for sale.” The sign placed in front of the racks said, “Kevin and Lorie (Mayor Faulconer and District 2 Councilperson Lorie Zapf) Sold Your Boardwalk San Diego.” PB resident Jason McLachlan gave his opinion, “This is so obviously a stupid place to put these bike racks, it has to be the worst advertising Deco Bikes could do to themselves.”

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So what are the opponents going to do next? Terrorize the people (visitors/tourists) who rent them?

This seems like good progress, it puts people on bikes and not in cars. I see nothing that is visual blight. I do sense local businesses who rent bikes feeling the heat.

Schlep Rox - how can it be a threat to local rentals AND be too expensive?

I get the idea that the kiosk doesn't need to be in the boardwalk - move it one block off (although they then take up parking).

I'm totally against protecting any incumbent bike rental outfits from this different business model. Deco lets you ride from station to station, without a need to return to your starting point. Besides, competition is a normal part of running a business - adapt or die.

Mexico City’s Ecobici system for public bike rentals is fantastic. You can rent a bike and ride along to museums, restaurants, sightseeing, and turn in the bike without having to ride all the way back to where you rented it. This business model works and it encourages people to ride bikes a leave the cars at home.

The agreement, May 7, 2013, between City and Deco Bike LLC is in the following link: http://docs.sandiego.gov/councilcomm_agendas_attach/2013/LUH_130619_6.pdf

On page 13, the financial agreement is detailed. It's very hard to find out much about Deco Bike's finances, but I suspect they are not doing well. Deco Bike has struggled financially in the Miami area over the past few years. They charge more than any of the other bike-sharing companies, per the Boston Globe: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/04/17/hubway-boston-bike-share-program-returns-amid-growing-popularity/aPRJewaHIYkgWex79IAvSI/story.html

Deco Bike's contract with Long Beach, New York, was terminated and the city gave the contract to Social Bicycles (SoBi): http://liherald.com/stories/Social-Bicycles-launch-in-Long-Beach,66920?page=1&content_source=

So if Deco Bike fails, some other company will probably be offered the contract. And the locations will probably remain the same where Deco is now.

Ponzi: What is of interest here is the completely untransparent nature of the San Diego government and Deco Bike's interactions with the neighborhood residents/business people.

For starters, there was no RFP. Deco Bike got a deal with San Diego's Department of Corporate Partnership (Natasha Collura, Director of Strategic Partnerships). There was no community input, and the City revealed in the Council Exec Summary that marketing of the agreement would occur only after the partnership was made.

San Diego's Natasha Collura is quoted in "Inside the Evolving World of Marketing," which states that

While public/private partnerships can be mutually beneficial, municipalities face several significant hurdles in getting programs up and running. Those include the following:

Gaining buy-in from government officials and the public
A Reluctance by marketers to use the RFP bidding process
The lack of dedicated staff to manage relationships

San Diego side-stepped one of these problems, by not bothering to get any buy-in from the public prior to inking an agreement. The problem in Long Beach, NY, appears related to the son-in-law of Long Beach's Assistant Corporation Counsel Noreen Costello. He is Liam Murphy, founder and CEO of Real Change Productions, a marketing firm that has Deco Bike as a client. There was an investigation, but the City Manager said neither Murphy nor Costello would benefit (really?), so it was OK. Well, it didn't turn out OK, evidently. A Long Beach blog, http://www.seabythecity.com, has various stories about Deco Bike's failure, claiming that the company lost a lot of money there before the City terminated the deal.

I'd love to know who in Deco Bike knew whom, in San Diego government. The founders of Deco Bike have a few instances of shaky financial histories in Miami.

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