Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft have become a popular mode of transportation worldwide. The City of Lincoln City was recently asked if such services are permitted within the city, which sparked some debate.
During the February 22 City Council meeting, council was asked if Uber and Lyft can operate in the city and according to City Attorney Richard Appicello, the answer is yes.
“I think that we don’t have Uber or Lyft here because their market requirements aren’t met here,” Appicello said. “Uber and Lyft would be regulated the same way taxicabs are under our ordinance.”
Councilor Riley Hoagland, who has been bringing the issue to the forefront for several years, disagreed with Appicello and felt the current ordinance did not cover these services. Hoagland also said that it is not a fact that Lincoln City does not meet the market requirements.
“If you’ve talked to people who rely on cabs, it’s really been difficult and challenging for them lately and there’s sometimes upwards of an hour wait,” Hoagland said. “This is just over the past six months, just imagine once businesses open and everyone is coming back in.”
Hoagland also cited recent changes in the City of Bend, who opened up their transportation services to include ridesharing. Hoagland proposed creating a new ordinance or reworking the current ordinance that would be similar to the one approved in Bend.
Councilor Anne Marie Skinner agreed with Hoagland’s comments and said she has been asked several times why Uber and Lyft is not in Lincoln City.
“Uber and Lyft cars are not equipped with half of the items required by this ordinance," Skinner said. “There is absolutely no way anyone could do Uber or Lyft if they wanted to under this ordinance.”
Councilor Judy Casper said she was surprised by this agenda item and was unaware of a ridesharing issue within the city. Councilor Mitch Parsons echoed Hoagland and Skinner’s comments and felt the ordinance needed to be rewritten.
Councilor Rick Mark said he recently combed through the current ordinance and felt that it was sufficient.
“When reviewing this ordinance, I actually found it comforting to know that these sort of requirements, in terms of insurance, criminal background checks and police oversight of drivers, those things are in place,” he said.
Appicello redirected the discussion by stating that generally, Uber and Lyft was covered by the ordinance. But asked if council wanted to have a separate discussion to amend the ordinance.
“These requirements are set up for the protection of the consumer,” Appicello said. “Is it difficult for (Uber and Lyft) to meet some of these requirements, probably. But what lesser standard would you have me hold Uber and Lyft to?”
Appicello said he’d be willing to direct city staff to review similar transportation ordinances like the one that just passed in Bend. Hoagland made the motion to direct staff to look at similar ordinances in other cities. The motion passed with just one ‘nay’ vote coming from councilor Casper.