Broward commissioner hopes Uber can be back in Florida's second-largest county by Wednesday

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Last weekend, we told you about the minor freakout experienced by barhoppers in downtown Ft. Lauderdale after Uber and Lyft shut down in surrounding Broward County.


The companies withdrew their services after the county threatened to sue them for violating commercial driver laws—even as the two sides seemed to be in the midst of coming to an agreement that would allow them to continue to operate. The county's nine-member commission will return tomorrow from their summer break to start re-examining the ride-sharing question.

Under the most long-shot scenario, the commissioners will have used their vacation time to acquiesce to all of Uber's demands and direct legislation be enacted so that Uber could start up again the following day.


That, at least, is the hope of Commissioner Chip LaMarca, who represents Ft. Lauderdale.

"People in Broward got used to using Uber," he told Fusion. "They felt comfortable, they felt safe."

LaMarca is one of three commissioners who has submitted proposals clarifying what Uber and Lyft need to do to get back online in Florida's second-largest county. His proposals are modeled after legislation passed by the city of Tallahassee earlier this year that allows these companies to be regulated as their own entities, free from some of the requirements taxis have, like background checks and licensure.

But given that two other commissioners have also submitted their own proposals, the Wednesday scenario now seems unlikely.


One commissioner's proposal would impose a new insurance requirement on Uber and Lyft, a demand those companies say is unnecessary given current state requirements. The problem is that there remains a dispute about driver's are covered by depending on what they are doing while online that Tallahassee legislators failed to address before adjourning for the summer.

A third proposal would allow the county to audit and inspect the companies' records to ensure full compliance with the proposed ordinance.


And those are just proposals from commissioners generally in favor of Uber returning as soon as possible.
"After countless meetings with Uber management it became painfully clear to me that the preferred company model had little to no regulation by local government," commissioner Lois Wexler said after Uber announced it would be shutting down by Aug. 1.

Wexler could not immediately be reached for comment.

Uber has gotten used to these fights, and only rarely do they fail to come to a compromise with state and/or local government that sees their drivers back in rotation. The city of San Antonio remains the most prominent holdout, but they too are voting this week on whether to bring the companies back.


"We're encouraged by recent progress in our discussions with some [Broward] Commissioners and are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to work toward a solution that restores access to safe, reliable transportation options in Broward County," Uber rep Bill Gibbons said in a statement to Fusion.

But the Palm Beach Sun Sentinel's Andy Reid reports that this time, Uber seems to be calling for more concessions—like dropping a requirement for county-approved driver fingerprinting—even if they have signed off on such policies in other cities.


Palm Beach County is going through its own Uber debate–commissioners there are calling for taxi-level regulation. "Why would they leave for these things?" County Mayor Shelley Vana asked Reid. "If everybody else can do it, why can't they?"

Uber has responded by arguing it can maintain the same level of safety through its background check system while avoiding onerous parts of the checks that slow down a drivers' ability to sign up.


In the case of Palm Beach County, it is already threatening to pull out.

"Unfortunately, the ordinance as currently written would threaten Uber's ability to continue operating in Palm Beach County," Gibbons said according to Reid.


Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

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