We’ve just settled in here at City Hall as Seattle’s lawmakers prepare to set regulations that will legalize transportation startups like Lyft, UberX and Sidecar.
You can read more about today’s meeting in our report from earlier today, but here’s the low-down: Councilmembers plan to discuss and potentially vote to approve a revised ordinance that came out of a negotiation process organized by Mayor Ed Murray.
You’ll notice lots of orange shirts in attendance today at the Council Chamber, but those wearing them aren’t related to the TNC issue. Instead, there’s about 100 or so here in support of elephants suffering at Woodland Park Zoo.
Anyways, the TNC issue is up first on today’s agenda, so follow along with our live blog below:
Bill PASSES 8-1. O’Brien voted no. There you have it folks, TNCs are officially legalized in Seattle.
Councilmembers providing last comments. Sawant talking about workers rights, again.
Bagshaw, Clark, Godden, Rasmussen and Burgess voted no.
Amendment DEFEATED 5-4
Again, amendment reads: “At all times while a driver is active on the TNC dispatch
system, the TNCs insurance shall be exclusive.”
O’Brien received letters from insurance experts that support his amendment.
Bagshaw, Clark are against it. Harrell, Licata support it.
The gap is when the driver is just looking for a ride vs. actually taking someone somewhere. O’Brien wants TNCs to cover at all times and make their insurance exclusive — meaning no personal insurance of the driver involved.
He brought up the six-year-old dying in San Francisco last December. http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/uber-files-defense-in-sofia-liu-wrongful-death-lawsuit/Content?oid=2790574
He doesn’t like that customers may be on the hook during accidents. He wants TNCs to exclusively provide insurance and not use the driver’s insurance.
Wow.. O’Brien just went off on a five-minute sermon about his concerns with insurance gaps.
Amendment K, sponsored by O’Brien, is about insurance. It will add this line: “At all times while a driver is active on the TNC dispatch system, the TNCs insurance shall be exclusive.”
Clark: “I would encourage us to move on.”
The issue is allowing those that already own taxi licenses to obtain one of the 200 that will be added over the next four years.
“That makes absolutely no sense what you said,” Harrell to Sawant, who wants to do something I don’t understand.
Harrell now says he wants to withdraw Amendment J
O’Brien continues to push his point. I’d predict that he votes against approving the ordinance. He may have convinced a few others today to do the same. But I think a majority of the council wants to pass the legislation. We will find out.
O’Brien again says that this is an example of how the council is not ready to vote.
Councilmembers still going back and forth on Amendment J, which is about the lottery system for new taxi licenses.
Others on the council seem keen on ending this confusion and setting some regulations for the TNCs. Last week, Bagshaw said, “I would like to signal to the industry that we are serious about a solution.”
Granted it is complicated, but I see where O’Brien is coming from when he wants to take more time to really implement the right laws.
I still get the vibe that not everyone on the council totally understands this space, and particularly with insurance issues. It’s been that way for months now.
Back to O’Brien — he said that he agreed with what everyone was saying on Amendment I, and “yet I have to vote for one side or the other.” It’s an example of why he thinks there is too much confusion for the council to vote on the ordinance today, he says.
Amendment I rejected, 6-3. Bagshaw, Harrell, O’Brien voted yes.
O’Brien says that this color discussion is why the council should send the entire ordinance back to a sub-committee.
Harrell says the public doesn’t care about what color the vehicles are, they are going to take the ride regardless.
This obviously does not apply to TNCs, which have no color regulations.
Can’t believe I just wrote the phrase “color regulations.”
Clark wishes that all taxis could be one color and all for-hire could be one color.
Seems like some taxi drivers don’t want public getting confused that for-hire vehicles look like their yellow and orange cars. Harrell wants to allow them to retain existing colors for current and future cars.
Amendment I is about repainting for-hire vehicles a certain color scheme.
Amendment H fails 6-3. Bagshaw, Harrell and O’Brien voted yes. Taxi drivers applaud. “That’s a bad applause,” Harrell said.
Bruce Harrell on Amendment H: “If you have the best service you should rise to the top.” Didn’t hear him say that in prior meetings.
Anyways, councilmembers talking about Amendment H, which deals with deadheading.
Uber is apparently also saying they can’t find a ride during the time of the issue: http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/woman-claims-she-was-raped-uber-driver/ngfgJ/
Uber’s response to this allegation: “Rider safety is Uber’s #1 priority. We take reports like this seriously and are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and care. We stand ready to assist authorities in any investigation, but have not yet been contacted directly with regard to an incident in Seattle.”
By the way, there’s a woman who is alleging that she was raped by an Uber driver in Seattle earlier this week: http://www.komonews.com/news/crime/Woman-visiting-Seattle-says-she-was-raped-by-Uber-driver-267059081.html
Amendment G passes.
Amendment F passes. No discussion yet on any of these. They seem to be clean-up. Clark just going over the amendments. Looks like H will be debated, though.
Amendment D and E pass.
Amendment C passes, which cleans up insurance language.
Amendment A and B pass unanimously. More “inside baseball,” stuff, as Clark says.
There are a 11 amendments to go over. Seems complicated. Did all councilmembers thoroughly vet these?
The consent amendments were adopted. They were more just clean-up amendments. Now we move to the more controversial amendments, here: http://clerk.seattle.gov/~public/meetingrecords/2014/fullcouncil20140714_1b.pdf
No one seems to have any questions about the 21 CONSENT amendments. “This is going really well,” says Tim Burgess.
21 amendments in that package.
Clark talking about this Consent Package: http://clerk.seattle.gov/~public/meetingrecords/2014/fullcouncil20140714_1a.pdf
Sounds like the council wants to get this over with. O’Brien concerned with things like the removal of security cameras in taxicabs. “I don’t know if that’s a good or bad idea.”
Motion fails. I think Licata and O’Brien voted yes to move it back to committee.
Sally Clark, head of Taxi & For-Hire Committee, says it can be done today.
“We haven’t had the chance to properly vet this,” he said.
Councilmember Mike O’Brien wants to send this back to the Taxi & For-Hire Committee.
Elephant supporters have filed out. Guess they got their message across. They want to be on the agenda. Now we move to TNC stuff.
Oh my. Elephant supporters are all getting up and saying “Sanctuary now. put us on agenda. Make it legitimate.”
Attorney who reps taxis up now. He says “this whole process has been a game.” He says with all the added amendments, “just send this back to the committee or enforce the existing law.”
Brooke Steger, Uber Seattle GM, up next. She says Uber’s insurance policy is “second-to-none.”
Joseph Ayele from ridehail.com is mad that the City is “opening gates” for Uber. He says he left is home country to get away from companies and powerful people bending the law.
“Please refine your thinking,” he said. “You are failing the community that has been serving King County for some time.”
Man who says he is representing “app-based drivers” said he is losing money because there is no cap on the TNCs.
“I have not heard you talk about the drivers,” he said. “Please make a good decision for the drivers, not for the companies.”
Two for-hire managers really, really want the council to pass the ordinance as is today. If passed, the for-hire vehicles will have hailing rights — meaning they can pick up people on the street.
Here are the amendments to the ordinance: http://clerk.seattle.gov/~public/meetingrecords/2014/fullcouncil20140714_1b.pdf
Habib was actually first up on the podium. He says that he’s convened a stakeholder group to address the issue of commercial insurance for TNC drivers. It’s a new category that the state has not addressed.
He asks the council to pass the ordinance today “without substantive change” to the insurance provisions to allow the state to establish new rules.
Apparently the elephant issue is not on the agenda. Councilmember Burgess notes that the public comment session is for issues related to agenda items. But he’s understanding of the elephant problem.
Looks like Cyrus Habib, a Democrat who represents the 48th district and sits on the state’s transportation committee, is here today. He told us back in March that he was against any kind of TNC cap — the council has since removed that from the proposed ordinance. Read his comments here: http://www.geekwire.com/2014/washington-state-rep-artificially-capping-rideshares-serves-absolutely-public-interest/
Here’s the revised TNC ordinance that the council will discuss: http://clerk.seattle.gov/~public/meetingrecords/2014/fullcouncil20140714_1.pdf
But there are some reps from Uber and the taxi industry. We’ll see who speaks at the public comment session. Here’s today’s agenda: http://clerk.seattle.gov/~scripts/nph-brs.exe?s1=full.comm.&S3=&s2=&s4=&Sect4=AND&l=20&Sect6=HITOFF&Sect5=AGEN1&Sect3=PLURON&d=AGEN&p=1&u=%2F~public%2Fagen1.htm&r=1&f=G
OK, let’s be serious for a second. The mood in here is pretty light, and most people here are wearing orange shirts and supporting an elephant: http://www.freewpzelephants.com/urgent-send-watoto-to-a-sanctuary/
Ah, good to be back, folks. I kind of missed live blogging these typically intense City Council meetings. I will be on the lookout for councilmembers eating cookies and using Windows 95.