Many Justifiably Think This is the Wrong Solution
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring taxis, microhousing, minimum wage, and small-lot development.
1. A small group of taxi drivers are urging the city council not to adopt compromise legislation proposed by Mayor Ed Murray this week regulating taxi, for-hire, and ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft.
Saying "there was no agreement," GreenCab general manager Chris Van Dyk said the city should "slow way, way down" and let opponents of a seperate, ridesharing company-funded referendum that put the council's original ordinance on hold in April argue their case in court that the referendum was never legal in the first place.
Arguably the biggest change in the bill is that it would eliminate proposed caps on the number of ridesharing cars on the road at any one time, a tradeoff to taxi companies who wanted the caps because they said without them, Uber would have an unfair advantage over traditional cabs. It also gives for-hire drivers the right to pick up people who hail them (but not at hotels or taxi stands); and it creates 200 new taxi licenses.
Murray, flanked by representatives of the taxi, ridesharing, and for-hire industries, announced the deal on Monday.
2. Speaking of challenging Mayor Murray's recent headline compromises, Forward Seattle, the group of small businesses gathering signatures to undo his $15 minimum wage legislation, has reportedly collected 18,000 signatures; they need 16,000 valid signatures to put the measure on the ballot, and have a goal of hitting 24,000 to account for invalid signatures, according to Ivar's CEO Bob Donegan who says he's being briefed on all the possible initiatives.
Donegan was a member of Murray's Income Inequality Task Force that hashed out the deal and says he stands by it, but notes that many Seattle businesses "justifiably think [the legislation] is an inappropriate solution."
He added, seconding the "total compensation" argument (that benefits, tips, and other compensation beyond wages should be counted in any solution): "There are many of them [local businesses] who are good employers, who are angry that the things that they do for their employees are not recognized in this ordinance. A large international coffee company is one that's very angry." Judging from what Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said on the Daily Show this week about the $15 minimum wage, that's true.
Rumors have been circulating that Donegan, who fought the SeaTac $15 initiative last year, might work with the Washington Restaurant Association to get behind one of the initiatives floating around to invalidate the $15 legislation, such as Forward Seattle's local initiative or statewide preemption ones filed by his former SeaTac ally Richard Forschler or Tim Eyman. "I don't think we can get a better solution than that one through the political process here. But yeah, I talk to [businesses that oppose the minimum wage deal."
Here's what he told Fizz yesterday when asked directly about that rumor:
"Unlike the Income Inequality Advisory Committee, where data didn't matter very often, for me, data matters a lot, so I talk to the Forward Seattle people and 15Now people, and the Tim Eyman people, and the ethnic community [small businesses in the I.D.] all the time because I want to know what's going on. I've not taken a position on any of them, and I don't expect that I will because I worked really hard to get us to the solution we have, and I don't think we can get a better solution than that one through the political process here. But yeah, I talk to them. I have a half a dozen emails from people this morning bringing me up to date on what happened yesterday in signature gathering for Forward Seattle, for example."
3. The city council’s special work group on microhousing, AKA aPodments, meets for the first time at 4:30 this afternoon to discuss new regulations on the tiny apartments, which some residents of low-density low-rise neighborhoods like Eastlake and the University District, oppose.
The new rules would include new design review requirements that would, proponents of microhousing argue, make it easier for neighboring residents to sue to stop the developments; new minimum size requirements for bedrooms and shared kitchens; a new rule dictating that sinks be located inside the bathroom rather than elsewhere in an apartment; and minimum parking requirements.
4. At the same time, a group that represent developers who build microhousing, Smart Growth Seattle, plans to appeal a separate proposal that makes it harder for developers to build buildings as tall as five stories in certain low-rise zones, known as LR-3s. If successful, the appeal could require the overall regulations to go through the State Environmental Policy Act legal process (they’re currently exempt), which could add about 90 days to the adoption of the previous, more density-friendly rules.