The last couple of months have revealed serious flaws in the “too big to fail” house of cards held up by the pillars of the gig economy.
San Francisco has long put out the welcome mat to innovators, entrepreneurs, and visionary change-makers. Unfortunately, over the last several years, some tech corporations have used San Francisco more like a doormat. San Franciscans are finally growing weary of being told that their basic rights are fair game for “disruption.” In a city that prides itself on innovation, it’s time to start innovating on behalf of residents and workers, not those tech corporados pushing and profiting off of a race to the bottom.
THE HEIGHT OF UBER-ARROGANCE
Whether it’s using San Francisco residents as unwitting guinea pigs while testing driverless vehicles on our city streets, employing Greyball software to evade law enforcement authorities, or dodging widespread outrage over rampant workplace sexism, Uber continues to behave more like a schoolyard bully than a “sharing economy” leader and decent corporate citizen. With Uber dumping millions of dollars into Sacramento lobbying efforts, state lawmakers have hustled to introduce more bills loosening ride-hail regulations — including Senator Steven Bradford’s SB 182, which would effectively give Uber a workaround to San Francisco business tax laws and increase cars.
Uber might think this puts them in the driver seat, but they’re wrong. San Francisco has finally taken steps to sue Uber for basic safety information and data, and to require Uber to operate and behave like any other business. Uber might believe it’s above the law, but with more than 45,000 vehicles — many of which violate traffic regulations — exacerbating the congestion of our streets, I think San Francisco has had enough.
For anyone who has ever had a random stranger mistake them for their Uber and climb into the back of their car, been endangered by a careless Uber driver juggling three phones, or been repelled out of a bike lane by a double-parked Uber, there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. For once, San Francisco is united in its opposition to SB 182, and with the help of City Attorney Dennis Herrera and City Treasurer Jose Cisneros, we will continue to aggressively push for appropriate regulations that ensure San Franciscans are prioritized over corporate profit.
Uber needs only look to the recent AirBnB and HomeAway litigation settlement to see what happens when you unfairly pick on your hometown.
AIRBNB SETTLEMENT ONLY THE BEGINNING
Last month, we scored a major victory for the people of San Francisco after a landmark court ruling that preliminarily upheld San Francisco’s short-term rental enforcement legislation. The implications of this settlement are already reverberating across the nation, particularly in other jurisdictions that have modeled their own laws on San Francisco’s.
As part of the settlement agreement, both AirBnB and HomeAway will be required to comply with our local law, including only posting legal listings of registered short-term rentals. The settlement also reserves the Board of Supervisors’ ability to further strengthen the law. I’m sure there will be more to come, particularly in light of Mayor Lee’s veto late last year of our legislation (in the midst of AirBnB’s legal assault on the city), which was supported by an unlikely and historic coalition of landlords, tenants, hotel workers, and hotel owners. AirBnB has led the ransacking of our precious housing stock in the midst of a soaring affordability crisis, and it chose to sue its hometown instead of working to be a part of the solution.
This recent victory sends a strong message that San Francisco won’t buckle under to threats and will fight to protect our housing.
We also unanimously passed my legislation to regulate app-controlled stationless bikes, which companies — most notably Blue-GoGo — sought to operate without permits in the public realm. Blue-GoGo has now pulled their operations and come back to the table with the SFMTA to work with the city to follow the law.
All in all, San Francisco has begun to move in a direction that puts its residents before corporations. We still have a long way to go, but I’m hopeful that we’re on the right path.
See you around the neighborhood.