The 2nd-largest Uber-less county in America is now begging the company to return

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Florida's Broward County commission voted Tuesday in favor of redrafting its ride-sharing ordinance to convince ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft to return to South Florida.


But the companies won't be back on Wednesday, as some had hoped.

Commissioners voted 6-2 to change the current ordinance, which was approved earlier this year, to allow Uber to perform its own background checks on its drivers, set up a new fee structure for operating at county airports and seaports, and leave insurance matters up to state legislators in Tallahassee.


Those were all items pro-Uber commissioners said the company had signaled were prerequisites for turning the service back on for the county's 1.84 million people.

On July 31, Broward became the second-largest county in America to see Uber withdraw its services (the service has also left Clark County, N.V., home of Las Vegas). The county had begun legal proceedings against the company after it deemed it was in continued violation of a new ride-sharing law passed in April.

That law stated drivers would have to submit background checks and fingerprints directly to the county and obtain commercial vehicle insurance. Both are required of the taxi industry.

Rather than submit to the new requirements, which it said were onerous and make it more difficult for riders to pick up drivers speedily, Uber opted to leave.


By Tuesday, Mark Bogen, a commissioner who voted in favor of the April rules, had come to see things from Uber's perspective.

"There’s regulation, and then there's over-regulation," he said. "I think we’re here to represent the voters."


Lois Wexler, who favored upholding the April ordinance, accused pro-Uber commissioners of having "drunk the kool aid." She left before the final vote was taken.

At Tuesday's hearing, which lasted approximately six hours, at least 120 speakers spoke out on the issue, mostly in favor of Uber.


An Uber rep said the company had sent on an email to a "universe of riders" encouraging them to show up in support of the company, but many appeared to come of their own volition. Several disabled riders spoke of the ease and reliability of riding in Uber compared with other forms of transportation.

Taxi representatives at the hearing also made a strong case that their businesses were now over regulated, and the commissioners seemed to acknowledge as much, agreeing to reevaluate some of the current measures governing them at a later date.


Chip LaMarca, a commissioner representing Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., said at the hearing that an Uber rep had told him Tuesday's vote would be enough to allow the company to resume operations within 24 hours.

But Uber representatives at the hearing told the commission that because the new proposal was not yet law, and that because the threat of litigation still technically hung over them, they did not want to risk restarting the service only to have to shut it off again if the county took another unforeseen action.


The next commission hearing is set for Sept. 1.

Correction: This article originally stated Broward County was the largest county in America to not have Uber.


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

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