Responding to Urban Innovation

The Case of E-Scooters in Los Angeles County

by Jarrett Catlin

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Policymakers face a challenging dilemma when responding to novel technologies. Specifically, evolving iterations of the platform economy like short-term home rentals and ridesharing have quickly upended municipal policy regimes and required creative solutions from city leaders. This dissertation builds upon existing frameworks for how policymakers respond to innovations by considering the arrival and subsequent policy response to a recent iteration of the platform economy, shared electric scooters (e-scooters). Specifically, this research considers the cases of five cities in Los Angeles County (Santa Monica, Culver City, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, and West Hollywood) and how each city's government responded to shared e-scooters. This research then synthesizes those findings into a set of considerations for cities when responding to future innovations, which serve as an extension of previous frameworks with a focus on the specific policy environment and constraints facing city leaders. Specifically, the case studies in this research emphasize the challenge of making policy for innovations that deploy, scale, and evolve quickly. This research not only emphasizes the importance of flexible, nimble policy mechanisms capable of responding to shifting markets, but also the critical importance of individual actors at the local level to set and implement policy. Lastly, these cases also demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of collaboration and coordination between city governments as a critical tactic for managing innovation.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two


  • Chapter Three

    Method and Approach

  • Chapter Four

    Case Studies Overview

  • Chapter Five

    Santa Monica

  • Chapter Six

    Culver City

  • Chapter Seven

    Beverly Hills

  • Chapter Eight

    Los Angeles

  • Chapter Nine

    West Hollywood

  • Chapter Ten

    Themes Across Cases and Lessons for Cities and Companies

  • Chapter Eleven


  • Chapter Twelve


  • Chapter Thirteen


Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in March 2022 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Matthew Lewis (Chair), Sandra Evans, and Dave Baiocchi.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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