Oakland City Council Delays “UberLyft” Rideshare Tax Vote To Look At Berkeley’s – Here It Is

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(Last Updated On: July 22, 2020)

The Oakland City Council was all set to pass legislation that would have placed a special tax on what it calls “Transportation Network Companies” or rideshare firms like Uber and Lyft (hence the name “UberLyft”) on the November 3, 2020 General Municipal Election Ballot. But then, common sense stepped in to delay the action.

It was Oakland City Council Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney (District Three) who stepped in to suggest the delay, siting the fact that Berkeley and Emeryville were also taking up a vote on a similar measure Tuesday night. Ms. McElhaney thought it best to see what Berkeley and Emeryville did, before Oakland acted. The logic was that she did not want to see Oakland with a tax rate wildly different from Berkeley’s. Moreover, Oakland Councilmember Loren Taylor (District Six) expressed concern that the tax itself may be regressive.

That written, Berkeley passed its measure.

Reached via phone, Berkeley District Three Councilmember Ben Bartlett said “Rideshare companies have avoided paying for road repairs damaged by their cars , so cities have to pick up the tab. The rideshare tax is not perfect but it allows exceptions for vulnerable passengers and drives much needed revenue to cash strapped cities.”

What Does The The Berkeley Transportation Network Companies Tax Measure Look Like?

So, What Does The Berkeley Transportation Network Companies Tax Look like? To answer that, Zennie62Media produced a digitized version of the staff report, and then selected the most important points for assembly into a kind of summary, below.

This is directly from the Berkeley City Manager’s Report, with some adjustments with respect to search engine optimization:

The City Manager is presenting this measure for addition to the November 3, 2020 ballot pursuant to the direction provided by the Berkeley City Council at the June 16, 2020 regular Berkeley City Council meeting.

Adoption of the resolution attached to this item will place the measure on the ballot. In addition, with respect to who can author arguments for measures placed on the ballot by the Council, Elections Code Section 9282(b) provides that the legislative body may submit an argument in favor of the measure. The Berkeley City Council may authorize the Council as a whole, or certain members of the Council, to submit an argument in favor of the measure.

BACKGROUND

At the June 16, 2020 Berkeley City Council meeting, the City Council provided direction to staff to prepare a ballot measure that creates a tax at a rate of 50 cents ($0.50) per trip for private trips and 25 cents ($0.25) per trip for pooled trips on users of Transportation Network Companies. This attached ballot measure has been prepared in response to that direction.

Every TNC engaged in business in the City of Berkeley will collect the per trip tax from the user and remit the tax to the City on a monthly basis. The tax is estimated to generate $910,000 annually for general municipal services.

A Transportation Network Company (TNC) provides prearranged transportation services using an online application or platform, such as smart phone apps, to connect drivers with passengers. Passengers can arrange for a private prearranged trip, in which the passengers are transported by a single vehicle at the same time for a single fare; or passengers can also arrange for a pooled trip, in which two or more passengers are transported by a single vehicle a prearranged ride at the same time for which separate fares are charged. All fares and tips are charged and collected by the TNC through the online application and not by the driver. The TNC then distributes compensation to the driver in a separate transaction.

TNC trips in Berkeley use the public streets and roads, and contribute to the wear and tear of the public infrastructure. TNC trips also contribute to traffic congestion and air pollution within the City. TNC’s do not pay taxes to offset their impacts on the City.

In addition to Berkeley, the cities of Oakland and Emeryville are also considering measures for the November 2020 ballot that would impose a general tax on users of TNCs at a rate of 50 cents ($0.50) per trip for private trips and 25 cents ($0.25) per trip for pooled trips. The City of Emeryville discussed a TNC tax on July 7, 2020 and will be returning to their respective City Council on July 21, 2020 for additional consideration. It

Placing a Charter Amendment on the November 3, 2020 Ballot

ACTION CALENDAR to Adopt a Tax on Transportation Network Companies July 21, 2020

is also anticipated that the City of Oakland will discuss a TNC tax substantially similar to Berkeley on July 21, 2020.

So, that’s the Berkeley UberLyft tax measure and we will add Emeryville’s later on Wednesday – ball’s in Oakland’s court.

Stay tuned.

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By Zennie Abraham

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