Council repeals ride-share regulations

An ordinance that took months to craft is scrapped so the Council can move forward with compromise plan brokered by the Mayor's Office.

The likelihood that Seattle will limit the number of Lyft, Sidecar and UberX vehicles allowed to operate on city streets diminished further on Monday, as the City Council repealed a set of ride-sharing regulations passed earlier this year.

By scrapping the ordinance that contained the regulations, the council set the stage to consider a compromise proposal Mayor Ed Murray's office recently brokered with representatives from ride-sharing companies and the traditional taxi and for-hire vehicle industry. The repealed ordinance would have limited the number of drivers allowed to use each of Seattle's ride-sharing services at any one time to 150. The compromise proposal that came out of the negotiations led by the Mayor's Office contains no such cap.

"We're very, very pleased the council decided to repeal the old ordinance today," said Brooke Steger, Uber's general manager in Seattle. "I'm kind of in disbelief right now."

For nearly a year, a City Council committee debated the best way to regulate services like Lyft, Sidecar and UberX, which the city has dubbed Transportation Network Companies, or TNCs. The services allow potential passengers to request rides through smart phone apps from people driving personal vehicles. The earlier council ordinance not only contained the driver caps, but also outlined requirements for TNC insurance coverage, vehicle standards and driver training.

After the council and the mayor approved the ordinance, however, Lyft and Uber poured money into a campaign for a ballot referendum, which would have allowed voters to decide on whether to maintain or toss out the new ride-sharing rules. After enough signatures were collected to get the referendum on the ballot, the ordinance was automatically suspended until the vote could take place. 

Lyft contributed $414,303 to the referendum campaign effort, and Uber chipped in $409,441, according to the most recent disclosure reports filed with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.

Not everyone is pleased with the mayor's compromise, which includes lincensing and insurance requirements for TNCs and also involves doling out 200 more taxi licenses and allowing flat rate for-hire drivers to pick up people who hail them on the streets.

"Most of the taxicab industry was not at the table," said Chris Van Dyk, general manager of Green Cab Taxi. "What the mayor should have been doing is suing to block the referendum."

Green Cab, along with other cab companies and taxi associations recently filed a complaint in King County Superior Court arguing that the referendum is invalid. A judge could make a decision in that case as early as Tuesday.

Van Dyk said that the biggest problem with the compromise is that it allows an unlimited number of TNC vehicles.

"Nobody will be making money in a few years," he said.

The council voted 6-3 to repeal the ordinance. Councilmembers Nick Licata, Kshama Sawant and Mike O'Brien cast the no votes, saying that they wanted to wait for the outcome of the referendum court case before moving forward with the repeal.

Sally Clark chaired the council committee that oversaw the effort to come up with the ordinance that contained the caps. On Monday she voted for its repeal.

"If we can get a better outcome through this compromise legislation," Clark said, "then we should take that opportunity."

Standing in the lobby of City Hall following the repeal vote, Samatar Guled, manager of Eastside For Hire expressed lukewarm approval for the compromise plan. 

He said: "We can live with it."

Bill Lucia writes about Seattle City Hall and politics for Crosscut. He can be reached at bill.lucia@crosscut.com and you can follow him on Twitter @bill_lucia.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Jul 8, 12:37 p.m. Inappropriate

"Nobody will be making money in a few years," he said

The point is to provide excellent transportation for as many people as possible at as low a cost as possible.

The point is not to maintain profit margins for monopolies.

Lincoln

Posted Tue, Jul 8, 4:28 p.m. Inappropriate

Lincoln. This is a race to the bottom. If companies and drivers can't make money, then the cab industry may just vaporize and go away. Or become a mere shadow of what it is, just like the newspaper industry.

Be careful what you wish for... no cab service. You may just get that.

Posted Fri, Jul 11, 7:10 a.m. Inappropriate

A race to the bottom? Yes, because Yellow cab is such a treat:

Seattle Yellow Cab driver groped passengers, police say
July 9th, 2014
SEATTLE — A Yellow Cab driver faces charges of reaching into the backseat of his cab to sexually assault lone, young women he transported home late at night, King County Superior Court documents show.

According to court documents, on June 6, a 22-year-old woman called police to tell them that a Yellow Cab driver made sexual advances toward her while she was getting a ride.

According to police, the woman left a bar around 1:50 a.m. and called a cab for a ride home to her apartment in the 4100 block of 12th Avenue.

During the ride, the driver, identified as Hassan Djama Allaleh allegedly grew bizarre with his small talk, asking the victim if she had a boyfriend, and if she lived alone. When the cab pulled out in front of her apartment, the victim paid and tried to get out, but Allaleh allegedly reached back and stopped her.

According to court documents, Allaleh tried to “pry open her legs” and reach up her skirt. The victim said she repeatedly told Allaleh no, but he persisted, reaching up toward her breasts and telling her he wanted to perform oral sex, documents show.

Luckily, the young woman managed to escape the car and Allaleh allegedly sped off. She contacted police.

Simon

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