Port Angeles mulls code change to let rideshare companies work in city

Rules would apply to taxis, Uber, Lyft

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles City Council is considering a code change that would allow companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in the city.

The council conducted a first reading on the proposal last week and is expected to adopt the changes next Tuesday, Aug. 20.

City attorney Bill Bloor said the current code is outdated and does not address ridesharing transportation network companies, or TNCs.

TNCs such as Uber and Lyft do not operate in the city because the code is outdated, Bloor told the council.

“In this ordinance, we have simplified a lot of the processes,” Bloor said.

Taxis would be regulated the same as TNCs if the council approves the draft ordinance.

The fee for obtaining a for-hire license, whether taxi or TNC, would be $50 per year.

“I appreciate the effort to create one regulatory scheme for all for-hire vehicles,” said council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin.

Numerous issues were raised about a previous proposal to regulate TNCs in July 2018.

The new ordinance uses a for-hire licensing system that was modeled on other city codes in the state, Bloor said.

“The new draft still requires comprehensive vehicle inspections, but it requires the for-hire vehicle companies to obtain and document the inspections,” Bloor said in a memo to the council.

The new draft eliminates a requirement for the city clerk to license each for-hire driver but preserves a requirement that TNC drivers must have a clean driving record, a background check and insurance, Bloor said.

It also eliminates a requirement that the chief of police inspect each for-hire vehicle.

“Maybe in the 1980s the police chief had the time to do that,” Bloor told the council.

“It’s not practical now, so we’ve changed that.

“The other thing we’ve done is to make all of these requirements applicable across the board,” Bloor added.

“So the requirements that are applicable to the taxi cab company are the same requirements that are applicable to the Uber and Lyft.”

No council member objected to the ordinance at the first reading.

Council member Jim Moran said the ordnance places the administrative burden on the company providing the service rather than on city staff.

“Our obligation only is to audit it, and the audit can take place occasionally as we fit,” Moran said.

“So the ordinance in my personal opinion is very well crafted.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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