Signatures submitted: Rideshare referendum likely going before Seattle voters

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The Seattle City Council voted March 17 to place a cap of 150 rideshare vehicles on the road at any one time. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

SEATTLE — Supporters of the city’s rideshare companies — Lyft, Sidecar and UberX — said Thursday they had submitted more than double the number of voter signatures required to get a referendum on the ballot on the city ordinance limiting the services.

On March 17, the Seattle City Council approved a bill to place new regulations on rideshare companies, including capping the number of drivers that can be on the road at any one time at 150. The legislation places safety regulations around these new services, including insurance requirements equivalent to those in the taxi industry.

But Thursday, supporters of the companies said in a statement that they had submitted more than 36,000 voter signatures calling for a referendum on the recent city ordinance, while only 16,510 voter signatures are required.

“We’ve seen overwhelming support from voters for the referendum effort,” said Brad Harwood, spokesman for the supporters’ group. “The fact that we were able to gather more than double the required number of signatures in such a short time shows that Seattle voters clearly want to have a conversation about this issue.”

Mobile app ride service companies have stated that the new ordinance would severely limit their ability to continue providing service within the city, and thereby reduce affordable transportation choices in Seattle.

“These ride services are widely popular and provide important transportation options within the city,” said Harwood.  “The recent ordinance would severely limit these options for residents and visitors alike. “

Submission of the signatures prior to Thursday’s deadline automatically suspends the ordinance from taking effect.

“Clearly, there is a need for effective policies that will allow these services to continue to operate within the city,” continued Harwood.  “We look forward to working with the mayor and the city to find a workable solution.”

After initial inspection by the City Clerk, the petition pages will be delivered to King County Elections for verification of the voter signatures.

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  • ClaimsAdjuster

    Goldman-Sachs, Jeff Bezos and the TNCs' VC backers really want to avoid regulation of any kind. That is why they are shelling $400K to gather signatures. They are paying $3 per signature, two to three times the going rate, to put this referendum on the ballot.

    While the TNCs yap about the cap, their real agenda is to avoid the insurance regulation. That is what is going to cost the TNC drivers major money,.

    However the law just passed by the City Council on TNC regulation cannot be overturned by a referendum. That is because for-hire vehicle regulation is an adminstrative power specifically o local jurisdictions by the state under RCW 46.72.001. According to an opinion by the City Attorney in the waterfront tunnel referendum:

    “Two well-established limits by the courts include (1) the rule that the local government “referendum power extends only to matters legislative in character and not to merely administrative acts.”

    What is the difference between legislative and administrative?

    According to this Washington State Initiative and Referendum Guide:

    “This of course raises the question of what is an administrative action and what is a legislative action. The courts have applied two tests in making this determination. First, actions relating to subjects of a permanent and general character are usually regarded as legislative matters, and actions taken on subjects of a temporary and special character are usually regarded as administrative matters. Second, the power to be exercised is legislative in nature if it prescribes a new policy or plan,whereas it is administrative in its nature if it merely pursues a plan already adopted by the legislative body or some power superior to it.”

    For-Hire laws have of course been part of RCW and SMC for decades. The City Council just passed revisions to the existing SMC. Furthermore, the TNC regs are a temporary pilot program and therefore administrative..