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Lyft co-founder John Zimmer.
Lyft co-founder John Zimmer.

Lyft co-founder John Zimmer picked Seattle as his company’s third market — Lyft is now in 20 cities — because he thought the area seemed like a leader of innovation and a place that embraced technology.

But after seeing the City of Seattle’s proposed regulations for ride-sharing startups, he isn’t too sure.

“We picked Seattle third because we thought it was such an innovative and leading city,” Zimmer said during a telephone interview this morning. “But I think others will reconsider that when they see overstepping and over-reaching by the City Council.”

The Seattle City Council Committee on Taxi, For-hire, and Limousine is meeting in just a few minutes to discuss the new draft ordinance, which would require ride-sharing companies to obtain a $50,000 annual license to operate as a transportation network company, and have no more than 100 vehicles driving a maximum of 16 hours per week, among a bevy of other rules.

[Follow-up: Here’s what happened at Friday’s City Council meeting]

lyft-pinkZimmer said that he’s “never seen anything like this,” in the other cities his company operates in. He said that the proposals would effectively shut down Lyft in Seattle.

Zimmer added that the city would be taking a big risk by implementing the proposed regulations and setting such a precedent.

“Technology companies won’t want to come there,” he said.

The Lyft co-founder said that the language in the proposal makes it seem like the City wants to protect existing transportation companies, which befuddles him.

“There’s no justification for the protectionism,” he said. “Taxi revenue has been growing every year and in 2013 it hit its highest level ever according to Seattle.”

We’ll have more from the City Council meeting on GeekWire today.

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