Adler weighing options as 'Ridesharing Works' signatures check out

The lengthy ridesharing debate at Tuesday's city council work session kicked off with an announcement from City Clerk Jannette Goodall: the more than 26,000 signatures submitted by the group "Ridesharing Works for Austin" -- checked out.

"The city is virtually certain that the true number exceeds the 19,765 required," Goodall said during the meeting.

So now council either has to adopt the ordinance former Mayor Lee Leffingwell's council put into place with a few tweaks here and there or put the issue on the May 7th ballot.

Mayor Steve Adler informed his colleagues he doesn't like binary options.

"The variable that we have that we can control is 'do we pass our own ordinance other than the December ordinance?'  That's within our control," Adler said during the meeting.

If council decides to put the ordinance on the ballot, Adler proposed having some sort of a backup just in case the voters say "no" to the Leffingwell rules.

The backup would not make fingerprinting a requirement and will also pave the way for what Adler refers to as "innovation" like his "Thumbs Up Austin" idea that incentivizes drivers to get fingerprinted instead of forcing it.

"It's been suggested that some people will argue that if we just approve the Uber/Lyft ordinance that came with the petition that we can't change anything for a two-year period of time and some people have said that that means that people could challenge the Thumbs Up as a program that even though we just adopted it, we would have to repeal it and I don't know that everybody who signed the petition intended that to be the case," Adler said.

Council member Ellen Troxclair is upset council is even discussing ridesharing any further after the results of the petition.

She's not sure what to think of the Mayor's new plan.

"We're talking about ordinances that have a huge impact on our city and we've been consistently put in a position where we don't even know what we're voting on.  It reminds me of a lot of things that the Federal government does that we have to pass it to know what's in it.," Troxclair said.

Council member Delia Garza supports just letting the voters decide at this point because she feels Uber and Lyft have bullied the city into doing their bidding.

"You know I'm raising a little girl and if she ever comes home one day and says that someone's bullying her, I'm not going to say 'it's just going to be easier for you to let it happen or maybe the teacher will figure it out or the maybe somebody will stick up for you'...I'm going to tell her to fight back and I hope that this council does that," Garza said.

If council ends up deciding to put the item on the ballot, the Mayor says that will cost between $500,000 and $800,000.
There won't be a vote on it during this week's city council meeting on Thursday but they will hear public testimony.
The vote will happen next week.

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