My correspondence with Seattle City Council regarding the new laws restricting innovation in Seattle
For those not following the story, Seattle is restricting the growth of smart-phone enabled ride sharing companies: UberX, Lyft, Side.Cr, etc. It’s like limiting the number of DVDs that Netflix could own to give Blockbuster a chance to catch up. (Spoiler from the future: Taxi companies are not going to catch up). Here is the latest Techcrunch article on the topic: http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/17/seattle-hates-ride-sharing/
I wrote an email to the entire city council. One of the councilor offices wrote me back. I have copied the reply below as well.
To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>, “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>, “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>, “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>, “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>, “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>, “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>, “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>, “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
I understand you are voting today to restrict uberX, Lyft, etc to 100 cars at a time on the road. It’s also my understanding that there are more than 1000 of these drivers now.
But the number of drivers is beside the point (other than a quantification of the jobs you are destroying). What is embarrassing is that in a city that defines itself as being consumer friendly and progressive, you are choosing to go out of your way to inhibit the growth of an innovative product that is improving the lives of your citizens — the people you were elected to represent.
Instead of representing these people, you are choosing to inhibit innovation and keep an entrenched monopoly in place. I’m glad you weren’t in charge of the government response to Netflix — we would still be dealing with Blockbuster late fees.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there is some rationale beyond the taxi companies paying for your reelection. But if so, it sure hasn’t been communicated. Is there anyone who doesn’t own a medallion (or working for someone with a medallion) that supports your law?
Hopefully you are good people and choose to do the right thing. In case you are not, I’m going to do my personal best to pull together Seattle citizens to financially (and with votes!) support those on the council that are choosing to put citizens first.
There are lots of issues that good, rational people will disagree on. Maybe we should raise the minimum wage, maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe we should support a sports team, maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe we should redo the waterfront, maybe not.
But I have heard no arguments on why we should restrict the number of smartphone enabled cars on the road. Other than greed of our councilors.
Hopefully at least six of you decide to do the right thing today. Or failing that, that we get a new council after the next election so we can reverse your value destruction.
This was the only reply:
Dear Mr. Nevraumont,
Thank you for your email to Councilmember Burgess about regulations for app-based transportation network companies like UberX and Lyft. At the Full Council meeting yesterday, Tim joined with Councilmembers Bagshaw and Rasmussen to vote for an amendment that would remove the caps on these services. That amendment failed 3-6. After a series of votes on other amendments, there was then a vote on the final legislation. Tim believes the safety regulations put in place by this bill are necessary and therefore voted for the final bill, despite his opposition to the caps.
Here is a blog post about yesterday’s vote: http://timothyburgess.typepad.com/tim_burgess_city_view_/2014/03/final-vote-on-taxis-tncs.html.
Here are Tim’s broader thoughts about regulations in this arena: http://timothyburgess.typepad.com/tim_burgess_city_view_/2014/02/thoughts-on-taxis-flat-rate-for-hires-and-app-based-car-services.html.
Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.
Nate Van Duzer