Santa Monica Could Be the Next City to Offer an E-Bike Rebate Program

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Staff at the City of Santa Monica are actively working on creating an e-bike rebate program using state funds to make it easier for low-income residents to purchase an electronic motor assisted bicycle. The city has been informed it will receive a state grant to fund the program later this year.

While e-bike programs are a somewhat new incentive program, they are growing in popularity, even if the State of California’s programming is drowning in red tape before it can even get off the mat. Pasadena became just the second city in L.A. County to launch a rebate program on July 1.

On Tuesday, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously passed a motion introduced by Councilmembers Jesse Zwick, Caroline Torosis, and Mayor Gleam Davis calling for a presentation to Council of a future program so they can provide input and direction before it is launched. Zwick, who recently purchased an e-bike himself and says it has replaced “75% of car trips” spoke in favor of Santa Monica having a rebate program of its own.

“E-bikes are becoming immensely popular,” Zwick stated. “Many cities are adopting rebates or point of sale coupons at the time of purchase…Denver and a number of other cities have implemented programs such as this.”

Zwick was advocating for a program where qualifying purchasers will see a reduced price when they purchase an e-bike rather than have to submit forms to the city and wait weeks or even months for the rebate. By reducing the price, rather than offering a rebate in the near-future, an e-bike with a sticker price of $1,500 is suddenly more affordable to people with lower income if the price is immediately reduced to $1000 or even $500.

The recently-launched program in Pasadena offers rebates after the point of sale. Purchasers have up to six months to submit paperwork to the city for the rebate and then can expect their check 6 to 8 weeks after the rebate is approved. As the program launched on July 1, there is no data available showing how many people have applied for rebates.

E-Bike programs throughout the country do have some similar features that we can expect to be part of any new program by the city. Most programs require that the bikes are new, not used or refurbished, and that only certain bicycles are eligible. Most programs require that the bikes are purchased at stores within the city offering the rebate to residents of the city offering the rebate. Most programs offer tiers for rebates depending on the type of purchase and the income of the person purchasing. Pasadena Now explains the tiers for the Rose City:

The program provides a $500 rebate for customers who purchase a qualifying electric bicycle from a bike shop within the City of Pasadena. A $250 bonus rebate is available for the purchase of new qualifying electric cargo bikes or adaptive electric bicycles, increasing the total potential rebate to $750. Customers enrolled in PWP’s income-qualified bill payment assistance program are eligible for an additional $250 bonus rebate, bringing the maximum possible rebate amount to $1,000.

The only Councilmember who spoke besides Zwick was Councilmember Lana Negrete who had questions about the state grant that will fund the program and wanted to make sure the city had rules regarding reselling a bicycle for which a refund or discount was applied.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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