City Attorney Dennis Herrera Seeks Court Orders Requiring Uber and Lyft to Follow the Law

IMO:

  • I’m not sure if it’s the job of the City Attorney to “strike the right balance” betwixt UBER / Lyft convenience vs. traffic congestion.
  • This Travis Kalanick sentence is the highlight: “I had hoped with the changes to its leadership that Uber had reformed its corporate culture.” Not necessarily sarcastic, but it has a bite nevertheless.
  • If a San Francisco taxi driver tells you to get lost because s/he doesn’t want to take you all the way out to the Sunset (which would make money for the driver, just maybe not as much as expected, or as average) or says, “I don’t take people to the Potrero projects,” well that’s a misdemeanor called Failure to Convey. IDK if is this kind of law applies to UBER Lyfters right now. Anyway, that’s what they’re getting at with the talk of discrimination.
  • Oh, and the reason why UBER started here in the Frisco bay first has to do with longstanding SFMTA policies of taxi regulation. Late night ballers such as Travis K had a bear of a time getting home at night – at 2:00 AM on a weekend night sometimes you’d see hundreds of people within a block of Broadway / Columbus with their arms up trying hail a cab. This had to do with a taxi shortage what valued certain people more than the general taxi riding public.

JMO

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Anyway, just released:

Herrera seeks court orders requiring Uber and Lyft to follow the law – Herrera moves for court to enforce his subpoenas requiring Uber, Lyft to turn over records on safety, disability access and operations

SAN FRANCISCO (July 21, 2017) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced today that he is requesting court orders to compel Lyft, Uber and two Uber subsidiaries to comply with subpoenas issued on June 5, 2017.  The subpoenas were issued as part of the City Attorney’s investigation into whether ride-hailing companies are creating a public nuisance in San Francisco.

Herrera today filed petitions in San Francisco Superior Court seeking a court order requiring the companies to comply with the subpoenas. The subpoenas are aimed at ensuring Uber and Lyft’s estimated 45,000 drivers in San Francisco do not create a public nuisance by jeopardizing public safety, discriminating or otherwise violating local and state laws.

The administrative subpoenas seek four years of records in eight categories, including miles and hours logged by drivers, incentives that encourage drivers to “commute” to San Francisco from as far away as Fresno or Los Angeles, driver guidance and training, accessible vehicle information, and the routes taken by these drivers in San Francisco.

Herrera is turning to the courts after giving the companies multiple opportunities to comply with the subpoenas.

“Unfortunately, Uber is doing what it always seems to do: raise obstacles and drag its feet— all while continuing to flout the law,” Herrera said. “To its credit, Lyft was more responsive, but in the end they also raised unreasonable roadblocks. They provided a minimal amount of documents before deciding not to comply with the rest of our request. And they have so far failed to execute a confidentiality agreement that would protect any legitimate trade secrets.  From the beginning, we have been clear that the companies must comply with these subpoenas.  These motions are the next step in protecting the rights of the people who live and work in San Francisco.”

On June 22 Herrera won a court ruling requiring Uber to comply with a separate subpoena from Treasurer José Cisneros to help ensure that Uber drivers have business licenses. The court found Uber’s arguments unpersuasive in that case.

San Franciscans and city leaders alike are concerned with public nuisance, public safety, accessibility, discrimination, compensation and other issues arising from the explosive growth of companies like Uber and Lyft.  Herrera issued his subpoenas as he investigates these issues.  He has also requested information about congestion and environmental impacts.

“The status quo is not working,” Herrera said.  “There’s no question that Uber and Lyft offer convenience.  But convenience for some cannot trump the rights of every San Francisco resident and visitor, including the safe enjoyment of our roads and bike lanes. I’m trying to strike the right balance here.  ”

After the subpoenas were issued, Lyft contacted the City Attorney’s Office and worked with the city to try to craft a confidentiality agreement that complies with the subpoena and with public records law, while also protecting trade secrets from public disclosure.  Lyft ultimately was not willing to move forward with a satisfactory agreement, demanding unreasonable provisions.

Uber objected to the subpoenas and refused to produce any documents or data at all. It waited until the June 20 deadline to send a letter telling the city it was declining to produce the information but would be available to “meet and confer regarding Uber’s concerns.”  After that, Uber representatives were slow to meet, late to respond and then non-committal. They have failed to comply with the subpoena.

“Uber was stalling,” Herrera said.  “I had hoped with the changes to its leadership that Uber had reformed its corporate culture. So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Both Uber and Lyft were given ample opportunity to follow the law. They chose not to, so now we’re in court.”

Additional documentation from the case is available on the City Attorney’s website at:https://www.sfcityattorney.org/

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3 Responses to “City Attorney Dennis Herrera Seeks Court Orders Requiring Uber and Lyft to Follow the Law”

  1. bd3517 says:

    I remember coming to SF 20 years ago and being shocked at how hard it was to get a cab vs NY and Chicago, where I’d lived previously. I use Lyft a few times a week as part of a muni/tech shuttle/walking/zipcar/lyft system. So, very grateful to have options that allow me to be car free at a reasonable price. On the down side, a car based system where people are mostly one customer, one vehicle will never work, there is no city in the world where this doesn’t result in nightmare traffic and building more car infrastructure never keeps up. Going after rideshare companies is nibbling around the edges of the problem. I’d love to see an increase in transit spending and effectiveness and some hybrid programs where we can get the benefits of ride-sharing with the benefits of public infrastructure, where you’d have huge shared vehicles along the artery routes and regional commute lines and smaller shared connectors making routes as needed. I have zero expectation this will happen, tho.

  2. Pflueger Inc. says:

    The reason we “should* have licenses for such transport vehicles is to limit the number so we are not saturating the streets with drivers coming from other places. No, it does not have to be such a small # as to increase the value of medallions or make too few taxis available, etc. The impact is being felt on MUNI farebox even when it’s not commute hrs.

    Carpooling model–OK, but the majority of U/L customers are not doing that. And people are getting fatter since they don’t even walk to a bus stop/Metro line or to their destination. They claim they are only software companies? Think sitcom “Taxi” when you read about Lyft’s Hub. Uber has stocked it’s arsenal with ex-gov’t. decision-makers/lobbyists with pull. The CA agency responsible for allowing U/L to operate as they do and circumventing local statutes needs to wake up. Gains we make from anti-pollution measures are cancelled out by the inundation of these vehicles.
    Ggrrrrrr!

  3. sfcitizen says:

    The Arnold signed a bill into law in 2010 – that’s where all this comes from…

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