It was a step back for Uber and Lyft Wednesday as the Los Angeles City Council voted overwhelmingly to intervene in the city airport commission’s decision to allow ridesharing companies to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport.
The Council voted 11-2, with councilmembers saying they were concerned that the airport commission’s permit plan, approved last month, did not adequately address concerns about passenger safety and driver background checks.
The vote came a day after a Los Angeles Times report, based on documents presented by taxi industry representatives, that four Uber drivers who were recently ticketed at LAX by airport police had criminal convictions that would hinder them from being able to legally drive a taxi here.
Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, who chairs the council’s Trade, Commerce, and Technology Committee and voted in favor of today’s motion, shares the concerns.
“It is the obligation of the Los Angeles City Council to review key decisions made by our city commissions particularly when they affect so many Angelenos,” Blumenfield said. “I look forward to a robust discussion and to working together in the city’s best interest to ensure the consumer access and protection.”
Councilman Paul Koretz said today’s vote is a good first step in addressing the council’s concerns.
“It’s an opportunity for us to back in to an ability to provide stronger safety and better consumer protection,” Koretz said.
Councilmembers Mike Bonin and David Ryu voted against the Council’s move to intervene. Bonin said the city needs “to embrace the future, maximize options for travelers and acknowledge that Uber and Lyft are services that large numbers of people appreciate and demand.”
Ryu is convinced "issuing permits and regulating this industry allows passengers to continue to enjoy a popular, safe and convenient travel alternative to and from LAX," he said.
The issue is scheduled to go before the Trade, Commerce, and Technology Committee later this month. The committee and possibly the whole Council could vote to accept or reject the airport commission’s permit plan, or send it back to the commission for revisions.