At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Long Beach City Council voted to draft an ordinance that would lessen the sale of disassembled bicycle parts and ban bicycle chop-shops.
According to the Long Beach Police Department, there were an average of 653 reported bicycle thefts per year from 2012-2017. Although bike thefts have declined, it remained a consistent problem in 2017 alone as there were over 300 reported bike thefts.
Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price, who brought forth the proposed ordinance, believes since Long Beach is a bike-friendly community, thefts on the two-wheel vehicle should be of great concern to the council.
“It’s clear to me that bike thefts are definitely underreported citywide, that’s especially true in my district,” Price said. “If you talk to the residents at community meetings, it’s clear that bike thefts are much more prevalent especially along the ocean and our business corridors where we encourage bike and pedestrian activity.”
There is a belief that chop shops promote the purchasing of drugs with money obtained from stolen bicycles.
The proposed ordinance will limit any person to assemble, disassemble, sell or buy bicycles or bicycle parts in public spaces. A violation of the proposed ordinance would result in an infraction or misdemeanor charge.
Councilmember Price wanted to make it absolutely clear that this ordinance is meant as a deterrent to theft and the illegal sale of bikes or bike parts; it is not intended to punish individuals.
“This particular ordinance would not stop anyone from working on their bikes individually or doing emergency maintenance in public but for those that are dismantling and selling multiple bikes in public spaces this ordinance would make such activity illegal,” Price said.
Long Beach resident and avid bicycle user Curtis Kaiser fully supports the proposed ordinance.
“I’ve gotten a bunch of bikes stolen,” Kaiser said. “It’s disheartening when you see all the chop shops going around, so I think this is a real step in the right direction.”
Maureen Neeley, vice president of the Belmont Heights Community Association, believes if the ordinance passes, it will allow Long Beach to become a prime destination for bicyclists.
“In our view, it takes a reasonable method to allow our public safety folks to make it uncomfortable for this type of commerce to take place,” Neeley said. “We got to chip away at the problem if we do want to be a bike capital, and I think we are well on our way.”
Nick Russo, the marketing and communications director for Pedal Movement, a program geared toward promoting bicycle transportation and services in Long Beach, spoke favorably of the potential new law.
“We just wanted to voice our support,” Russo said. “We share many of the concerns that homeless advocates or other advocates of low-income communities may have with ordinances like this, but I believe care has been put into crafting the proposal to mitigate that issue.”
In addition to this ordinance, Long Beach City Council will consider implementing an ordinance that would create an easier way for police to locate the registered owner of stolen bicycles and charge individuals with theft. The next city council meeting is Feb. 20.