Everett City Council passes rules for ride-hailing companies

EVERETT — After more than two hours of testimony and wrangling over details, the Everett City Council passed an ordinance on Wednesday that regulates online ride-hailing companies as it does taxicabs.

The rules were adopted unanimously, with numerous amendments designed to placate companies such as Uber and Lyft. In April, those companies had raised numerous objections to the original bill, leading to it to be sent back to the city’s legal department for revisions.

Those amendments might have addressed some issues, but about two dozen drivers for those companies urged the council to vote it down, with some saying they would not operate in Everett under the new rules.

Representatives from both companies told the council the language in the ordinance was still too vague to be acceptable.

“As far as we can tell there are still plenty of problems in the ordinance before you,” said Caleb Weaver, the public affairs manager for Uber in Washington.

Drivers for those companies, who are independent contractors, took issue with one element of the ordinance or another, especially the requirement that they obtain a general business license from the city in order to pick up a ride in Everett.

Charles Shaw, an Everett resident who drives for Lyft, said the business model, which uses a mobile device application to hail rides, allows drivers to cover a wider territory more efficiently, and it simply isn’t feasible to obtain a business license in every city where someone needs a ride.

“I don’t pick up in Tacoma any more because they require a business license,” Shaw said.

Business licenses in Everett cost $78, and $10-$26 for annual renewal, depending on whether the applicant is an Everett resident and the business’ annual revenue.

Other drivers called out vehicle inspection requirements, with some under the impression that they’d need a second one just for Everett. That is not the case, Assistant City Attorney Katie Rathbun clarified.

Other changes worked into the bill in response to the companies’ concerns included removing a maximum allowable vehicle age of 10 years, letting companies keep their driver lists confidential and setting insurance requirements that tracked state law.

Some taxi operators opposed provisions of the bill on grounds that they had more regulations to meet. Only two cab drivers spoke at the meeting.

Adisu Aramde, president of Yellow Cab of Washington, said he was concerned about potential loopholes in the bill allowing an Uber or Lyft driver to bypass the online booking system on multiple-leg trips, for example.

Several drivers responded that doing so would get them fired.

“Anyone I know would not take anyone anywhere if their ride was not on the app,” said Barbara Fortin.

Council President Judy Tuohy acknowledged that the rules weren’t ideal, and that current law didn’t anticipate this kind of new business model.

“This is all new for us, but until the state comes out with requirements, we need to enact something,” Tuohy said.

The ordinance requires the council to review it within three years at the latest.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @CWintersWriter.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist identified in fatal crash near Lake Stevens

Anthony Palko, 33, died Monday night after colliding with a passenger car. The juveniles in the car were taken to the hospital.

Marysville
Police: Marysville man shot sword-wielding roommate in self-defense

The roommates were arguing over eBay sales, according to police. Then one of them allegedly brandished a two-foot sword.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Everett boy, 12, identified as Davies Beach drowning victim

Malachi Bell was one of three swimmers in distress Sunday in Lake Stevens. He did not survive.

Everett
Port of Everett hosting annual open house after pandemic hiatus

Also, Rustic Cork Wine Bar plans to open a second shop at Fisherman’s Harbor — the latest addition to the port’s “wine walk.”

Arlington Public Works employees use The Big Sidewalk Sucker to lift a concrete panel from the sidewalk. The device saves the city some money and time to level ground below the concrete. (Arlington Public Works)
This thing sucks and helps repair sidewalks in Arlington

Public works crews can remove heavy concrete panels from sidewalks, so the ground underneath can be restored.

New LGI Homes on Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Sultan, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Red-hot housing market cools, a bit, in Snohomish County

The amount of housing inventory is rising. Demand is slowing. Higher mortgage rates are a cause.

John McKeon stands in front of a mobile headquarters vehicle while discussing the funding needs of Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at the search and rescue headquarters in Snohomish, Washington. McKeon said a priority for the group is to find money for new covered parking for a number of vehicles that do not have a garage to be parked in. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue wants rescuing

They’re asking for nearly $1 million in federal recovery dollars, but funding has been hard to come by.

Mike Kersey with Aiya Moore, daughter of Christina Anderson, right, talk about the condition of Nick’s Place in Everett, Washington on June 17, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
‘We’re all good people when we get clean and sober’

Who has fentanyl taken from us? A messenger who saved lives. A “street mom.” A grandpa who loved his grandkids “999 trillion times.”

Snohomish County Superior Courthouse in Everett, Washington on February 8, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Bailiff’s comments leads to appeal of child rape conviction

Joseph Hall, of Snohomish, was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison. Now he faces another trial.

Most Read