By Ted AYALA
Glendale City Council voted Tuesday night in favor of lending its support to a state bill that would impose tighter regulations on rideshare services such as Lyft and Uber.
The bill, known as AB 612 and authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, would see rideshare services fall under statewide oversight similar to taxi services.
Drivers for rideshares would have to submit themselves for background checks via a database at the Dept. of Justice. Though background checks for criminal history in the state would be checked, the checks wouldn’t go as high as the federal level.
Operators of rideshares are part-timers and freelancers, a situation that allows them to choose their own schedules. Customers place an order for a ride via a mobile app.
Rideshares and taxis have been at loggerheads increasingly this year, with the latter industry accusing the former of keeping their prices considerably lower
by unfairly circumventing regulations that are enforced upon taxi operations.
Crowds of taxi drivers protested on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall in June to criticize what they deem is lax oversight of rideshares.
Rideshares have criticized AB 612 and the taxi industry’s stance.
“[This bill is a] flagrant attempt to stymie innovation and competition by an antiquated industry,” read a post on Uber’s blog. “Sacramento [needs] to listen to the voices of consumers … and support new and innovative transportation choices rather than allowing special interests to hinder them.”
Councilman Ara J. Najarian stated his support for AB 612, saying that it was important to keep a “level playing field” for both rideshares and taxis.
“Glendale goes to great lengths to monitor our taxi cabs, to issue permits. We not only look at the driver’s records, but we also have vehicle inspections,” he said. “My concern is that those [rideshares] do not carry that kind of coverage. We can’t allow the usage of a new technology to get a leg up on an entreched, long-standing enterprise. It’s only fair and it’s what we owe our residents.”
He added that taxis are unfairly hampered because they must meet the demands of the rates that the city dictates that drivers must charge. Rideshares currently are exempt from such regulations.
“Let the most efficient service be the one that earns the customer,” he added. “But we shouldn’t tilt one against another.”
Lisa Gritzner, a representative for Uber, said rideshares support the types of policy recommendations the city is pushing for.
But Gritzner said that AB 612 doesn’t address those issues, adding that Uber drivers are already submitted to a rigorous 19-point inspection process. Their background checks are also cross-checked with sex offender databases in all 50 states.
“Glendale should go on the record with issues it’s concerned about,” she said. “But [AB 612] is discriminatory. It’s good to hear that [Nazarian] is considering changes. We have a number of drivers that are residents of Glendale.”