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Austin rideshare referendum goes down

Boom.

Uber

Preliminary election day results in Austin show 56 percent of voters against Proposition 1, a ride-hailing ordinance supported by Uber and Lyft. With 76.76 percent reporting, 13,957 have voted against the ordinance and 10,901 have voted for.

These numbers mirror early voting results, where of the 54,759 ballots cast, 30,683 (about 56 percent) voted against the ordinance and 24,076 voted for. Early voting for Proposition 1 started April 25 and closed on Tuesday.

[…]

Lyft

Both Uber and Lyft said they plan to cease their Austin operations if the election does not go in their favor. Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he hopes to sit down with Uber and Lyft following the election.

“The people have spoken tonight loud and clear,” he said in a statement Saturday. “Uber and Lyft are welcome to stay in Austin, and I invite them to the table regardless. Austin is an innovative and creative city, and we’ll need to be at our most creative and innovative now.”

Rick Claypool, research director for Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog group, said the clash in Austin is unique because the city’s special election is the first time a proposal backed by Uber has actually gone to voters. Claypool said the city will serve as an “object lesson” for other cities and could cause a “chilling effect” for those considering regulations.

“Likewise, there are probably going to be cities that go out of their way to sort of lower the floor of requirements for companies,” Claypool said. “They’ll say, ‘Come here, we’re Uber-friendly. We won’t make you do those things that those uncooperative places make you do.'”

The election night returns are here. Don’t be misled by the “213 of 229 Precincts Reporting” note, it said that from the beginning and I suspect it was just an oversight. I gave up refreshing the main election returns page at about 10 PM; the most recent update at that time was from 9:46. It’s just a matter of the final margin.

You know how I felt about this. Whether Uber and Lyft follow through on their threat to leave or not was unknown at the time I wrote this. We’ll find out soon enough. I’m glad that this multi-million dollar attempt to hijack the local government process failed. I hope Uber and Lyft learn something from this. I have no doubt that there’s room for compromise and improvement in the process, but that requires a willingness to negotiate in good faith, and not come in with a bulldozer and a bottomless pit of cash to force what you want. If they decide to leave Austin and Uber pulls out of Houston, that will be too bad, but they’re the ones who sent the ultimatum. They went all in and they lost, by a lot. Will they double down or will they dial it back and try a different approach? Like I said, we’ll know soon enough. The Austin Chronicle and the Statesman have more.

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5 Comments

  1. Steve Houston says:

    So, out of over 509k registered voters, all those millions Uber and Lyft spent garnered a mere 39k votes to change things?!? To hear some people talk about it, the vote should have been overwhelmingly in favor of the changes and then immediately followed by a recall vote of the mayor and city council. Considering Houston is not nearly as liberal as Austin, I think Turner is safe for the rest of his term despite threats by Josh….lol.

    Given the amount of money the companies are making, if they leave, someone else will come in and follow the rules agreed upon to make a killing.

  2. Joshua ben bullard says:

    Lol,I was dead wrong,I was miles and miles away,however and to my credit, I didn’t actually look into what ubers campaign model was until two days before the election ,I was worried immediately, I disagreed with the concept and the platform that uber used,the platform I would have used (and thought uber was using) was a full negative ,special Interest campaign against Austins elected officials and their Mayor,unfortunately ubers campaign team elected to go with a positive ,light touch campaign that encouraged no one to rush the polls.I was banking on the 8 million$$$$ to push my prediction over the top,even by a close race-steve Houston,I was shocked with the results and I stand corrected, I called it wrong big time,Austinites went the other way,I respect it and accept it.Houston isn’t Austin,My game is played here and I’ll push the legal envelope to get every Houstonian the ability to hire transportation ,free of 3rd party fees.”Because in Houston Tx,no person should have to pay another person ,for their right to work”..end taxi Medallions #freehouston Joshua Ben bullard

  3. Steve Houston says:

    Josh, I’m not against the concept at all but when even the ultra libs of Austin reject the demands of a $50 billion corporate giant like Uber and the conservatives line up against it, perhaps a different strategy is in order. I know it is your pet project but how much do regular voters use taxis or ride sharing to begin with? I’ve seen projections but honestly haven’t spent the time to research the topic, the amount of times I needed a ride locally in the last 50+ years could be counted on one hand. And given the minimal cost of good background checks and fingerprinting, they are shoveling against the tide to think actual voters are going to support them in the needed numbers based on current arguments (which would be a shame but I believe the profitability of the concept will bring in others if Uber leaves)

  4. Joshua ben bullard says:

    @steve Houston ,and your with me on Turner abolishing limits on market entry across the board?

  5. Steve Houston says:

    Josh, as long as safety concerns are met (fingerprinting, insurance and criminal background checks), I am not beholden in the slightest to the oligarchy of taxi cab folks.