uberxUpdate: Seattle legalizes Uber, Lyft to operate without caps

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:

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:02 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:03 pm

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:

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:03 pm

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:

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:04 pm

Here’s the revised TNC ordinance that the council will discuss:

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:05 pm

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:

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:06 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:11 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:12 pm

Here are the amendments to the ordinance:

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:14 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:21 pm

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.”

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:24 pm

Joseph Ayele from 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.”

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:24 pm

Brooke Steger, Uber Seattle GM, up next. She says Uber’s insurance policy is “second-to-none.”

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:27 pm

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.”

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:29 pm

Oh my. Elephant supporters are all getting up and saying “Sanctuary now. put us on agenda. Make it legitimate.”

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:31 pm

Elephant supporters have filed out. Guess they got their message across. They want to be on the agenda. Now we move to TNC stuff.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:32 pm

Councilmember Mike O’Brien wants to send this back to the Taxi & For-Hire Committee.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:33 pm

“We haven’t had the chance to properly vet this,” he said.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:33 pm

Sally Clark, head of Taxi & For-Hire Committee, says it can be done today.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:35 pm

Motion fails. I think Licata and O’Brien voted yes to move it back to committee.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:35 pm

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.”

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:38 pm

Clark talking about this Consent Package:

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:39 pm

21 amendments in that package.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:40 pm

No one seems to have any questions about the 21 CONSENT amendments. “This is going really well,” says Tim Burgess.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:40 pm

The consent amendments were adopted. They were more just clean-up amendments. Now we move to the more controversial amendments, here:

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:41 pm

There are a 11 amendments to go over. Seems complicated. Did all councilmembers thoroughly vet these?

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:42 pm

Amendment A and B pass unanimously. More “inside baseball,” stuff, as Clark says.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:43 pm

Amendment C passes, which cleans up insurance language.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:45 pm

Amendment D and E pass.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:46 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:46 pm

Amendment G passes.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:49 pm

By the way, there’s a woman who is alleging that she was raped by an Uber driver in Seattle earlier this week:

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:49 pm

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.”

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:50 pm

Uber is apparently also saying they can’t find a ride during the time of the issue:

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:51 pm

Anyways, councilmembers talking about Amendment H, which deals with deadheading.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:52 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20142:55 pm

Amendment H fails 6-3. Bagshaw, Harrell and O’Brien voted yes. Taxi drivers applaud. “That’s a bad applause,” Harrell said.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:00 pm

Amendment I is about repainting for-hire vehicles a certain color scheme.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:01 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:01 pm

Clark wishes that all taxis could be one color and all for-hire could be one color.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:02 pm

This obviously does not apply to TNCs, which have no color regulations.

Can’t believe I just wrote the phrase “color regulations.”

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:05 pm

Harrell says the public doesn’t care about what color the vehicles are, they are going to take the ride regardless.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:07 pm

O’Brien says that this color discussion is why the council should send the entire ordinance back to a sub-committee.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:08 pm

Amendment I rejected, 6-3. Bagshaw, Harrell, O’Brien voted yes.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:09 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:11 pm

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:12 pm

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:13 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:14 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:15 pm

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.”

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:17 pm

Councilmembers still going back and forth on Amendment J, which is about the lottery system for new taxi licenses.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:17 pm

O’Brien again says that this is an example of how the council is not ready to vote.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:19 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:20 pm

Harrell now says he wants to withdraw Amendment J

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:21 pm

“That makes absolutely no sense what you said,” Harrell to Sawant, who wants to do something I don’t understand.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:22 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:23 pm

Clark: “I would encourage us to move on.”

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:23 pm

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.”

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:28 pm

Wow.. O’Brien just went off on a five-minute sermon about his concerns with insurance gaps.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:30 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:31 pm

He brought up the six-year-old dying in San Francisco last December.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:32 pm

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.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:33 pm

Bagshaw, Clark are against it. Harrell, Licata support it.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:34 pm

O’Brien received letters from insurance experts that support his amendment.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:34 pm

Again, amendment reads: “At all times while a driver is active on the TNC dispatch
system, the TNCs insurance shall be exclusive.”

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:37 pm

Amendment DEFEATED 5-4

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:40 pm

Bagshaw, Clark, Godden, Rasmussen and Burgess voted no.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:48 pm

Councilmembers providing last comments. Sawant talking about workers rights, again.

Taylor Soper 07/14/20143:53 pm

Bill PASSES 8-1. O’Brien voted no. There you have it folks, TNCs are officially legalized in Seattle.

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  • tracy

    100 million taxpayer dollars to woodland park zoo since 2002 and we can’t get 2 minutes yet the zoo was so worried about our presence they had a rep dispatched to the meeting? She said that sanctuary is not an option because they are not accredited yet one elephant has been inseminated over 100 times (accredited) and Watoto spends thousands of hrs in isolation in a barn at the zoo. Taxpayers dollars

    • carolynlowen

      My Uncle
      Riley got an almost new red GMC Canyon just by some parttime working online
      with a laptop. visit their website C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

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