Morning Fizz: Uber Insurance
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring sanctimonious emails, property taxes for parks, and rideshare insurance.
1. South Lake Union community members and businesses felt slighlty snubbed by Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant yesterday when her office responded to an invitation to a neighborhood walking tour with a "sanctimonious" and "ungrammatical" (as the person who forwarded this email to Fizz characterized it) letter about Sawant's top priorities.
Here's the email from a Sawant staffer to SLU community council board member Mike McQuaid:
From: "Showalter, Clay"
Date: Thursday, March 13, 2014 10:10 AM
To: Michael McQuaid
Subject: RE: South Lake Union Community Council / Chamber: Invitation for SLU Walking Tour
Thank you for inviting Kshama for a SLU walking tour, and thank you for your patience. I appologize for the delay in getting back to you.
As an activist and a City Councilmember, Kshama recognize there are many important issues that need immediate attention. For our office, our priorities continue to be building a movement for a $15/hour minimum wage, fighting for affordable housing and taxing the super-rich to pay for public transportation and education. In addition, we am fighting against regressive surcharges and rate increases as chair of the Seattle City Light Committee.
Unfortunately, there is only so much time in the week and only so many meetings we can participate in. Since the day we took office, we have been inundated with requests to attend meetings, almost all of them are on issues that we support, but we are simply too busy to accept most of them.
Please continue to reach out to us, and we will continue to reach out to you. Thank you for getting in touch.
2. Mayor Ed Murray announced yesterday that's he's proposing a permanent property tax to replace the city's parks levy—the property tax that needs to be renewed every six years.
Murray campaigned on the issue, citing a $270 million parks maintenance backlog and saying the current system didn't provide stable funding, and he's now sending the measure, which will raise $54 million a year, to the council, asking them to approve it and send it to voters for an August election.
The average homeowner would pay about $14 a month.
3. UberX and Lyft both announced this morning that they will now cover the "insurance gap"—the time when their drivers logged on to the system, but aren't giving anyone a ride.
In a blog post this morning on the company's website, UberX says:
"Starting today, if a driver’s personal insurance policy is found not to cover an accident during this period, this new policy will provide contingent coverage for a driver’s liability at the highest requirement of any state in the U.S: $50,000/individual/incident for bodily injury, $100,000 total/incident for bodily injury and $25,000/incident for property damage."
And in a statement today, Lyft announced, "Lyft will now provide additional protection. This new protection will provide backstop coverage to drivers when they are in match mode and are not providing rides."
(And: Learn to trust the Fizz. We reported a week ago that both companies, despite their public protests that any new restrictions would put them out of business, have actually expressed a willingness to compromise on both the insurance requirements and on city council members' demand that they give the city access to their back-end usage data, so the city can verify how many drivers are on the road for each service at any one time. The council is considering new regulations that would impose new insurance requirements on the companies and limit the number of drivers on the road at any one time to 150 per company.)
The full council will vote on the new regulations at its regular meeting Monday.