Company and City at odds over citation violation

For one of Austin's newest start-up companies, Arcade City, several unwelcomed guests walked through its doors on Friday afternoon.

"They sent, apparently, six officers, that's two ATD (Austin Transportation Department) officers and four (Austin) Police Officers into our offices. Now to do what? I don't know," Christopher David, Arcade City's founder and CEO, said.

They is referring to the Austin Transportation Department. The two A.T.D staff members and four APD officers were there serving a citation to David for violating the city's ride sharing ordinance. The problem: David said Arcade City is not a ride sharing company.

"We are not taking payment per ride. We aren't vetting drivers ourselves, doing the kinds of things that you would expect an actual transportation network company to do. We are a technology company providing a set of tools that can facilitate peer to peer transactions," he said.

David said those transactions have spawned something else.

"We do have a Facebook group where people have spontaneously organized rides between riders and drivers. That's not really our business model or part of our company in any way but it is something that we've been happy to kind of grow and help to nuture," David said.

A.T.D officials told FOX 7 its main priority was to enforce the city code that council adopted in back in May. But David said all the city did was enforce a negative message to up and coming businesses in the city.

"It sends a message that innovation is only welcome to a point. It's only welcome so long as it stays within the very narrow confines of the laws that were written by Uber and Lyft. So for any company that wants to innovate beyond that and try a new model for them to be greeted by police knocking down their door and entering their offices its definitely chilling," David said.

The citation was for operating without a valid operating authoritity.  It is a class c misdemeanor that comes with a fine up to $500.

David said he is hopeful that he and the city can come to the table and clear up any issues that may still be lingering.
 

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