Three members of the
"When it comes to public safety, there shouldn't be a double standard in Los Angeles," Councilman
Koretz and Councilman
Insurance companies have backed a bill by Assemblywoman
The full City Council hasn't taken a position on the legislation, but Koretz, Cedillo and Councilman
"We cannot tolerate an industry that's unregulated, unsafe and unacceptable," Cedillo said, echoing the slogan printed on the red shirts of taxi drivers standing behind him on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall.
Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend said company drivers already have to pass a "rigorous" background check and have a "best-in-class insurance policy." She called the two bills pending in the state Senate "thinly veiled attempts to end ride-sharing in the state."
"This legislation is not about safety or consumers; it's about protecting entrenched Sacramento special interests from competition," Behrend said in a statement emailed to The Times.
Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson offered similar arguments, saying Lyft has a $1-million commercial excess liability insurance policy that far exceeds what is required for taxis in Los Angeles. The company also "screens out applicants for any violent crimes, sexual offenses, theft, property damage and felonies," Wilson said in an emailed statement.
As the battle over the proposed legislation continues in Sacramento, the California Public Utilities Commission, which has legal jurisdiction over ride-sharing companies, is in the process of tightening and clarifying its insurance requirements for the firms.
Late Tuesday, a commission administrative law judge issued a proposed decision that significantly increases insurance requirements for ridesharing companies seeking state operating licenses. The finding, which must be approved by a majority of the five-member commission, said that ridesharing firms must provide the primary insurance coverage any time the smartphone app is turned on, even when a passenger is not in the car. Ridesharing companies also must provide medical, comprehensive and collision and uninsured driver coverages, the proposed decision said.
Current regulations call for $1 million of coverage that kicks in after a driver's personal insurance hits its limit. Rules also require criminal background checks and safety inspections of cars, among other things.
The L.A. City Council members' call for tighter rules comes a week after an Uber driver was accused of abducting a drunk woman and taking her to a hotel in Van Nuys. Prosecutors did not file charges against the man, saying there was insufficient evidence. Uber disabled the driver's account after learning of his arrest.