By Kish Rajan
LAX. SFO. John Wayne. San Diego.
This is a list of the major airports in California that have embraced competition and innovation by allowing rideshare pickups on their property. Conspicuously absent from the list is San Jose’s Norman Y. Mineta International Airport.
Earlier this year, the San Jose City Council voted to approve a pilot program allowing rideshare companies like Lyft, Sidecar and Uber to pick up customers at Mineta. The City Council hailed the vote as pro-innovation despite evidence to the contrary.
Not a single rideshare company chose to participate.
Today, a City Council committee hearing will be held to review the pilot program. This hearing is unlikely to include praise for the program, but does provide an opportunity for the City Council to rethink its decision and perhaps will pave the way for a U-turn…
There’s no question that when it comes to ridesharing, especially when children are in the car, safety is paramount. Customers need to trust that their drivers are committed to keeping them safe and that the drivers are thoroughly and properly investigated before they’re allowed behind the wheel. There can be no compromise on public safety.
This is something that everyone understands, whether you’re a parent like me, or a company offering rideshare services to the public. The question for rideshare companies is: “How do we protect the public at large while still fostering a culture of efficiency and innovation?”
The answer is that private sector background checks and the use of real-time driver-rating systems ensure the highest degree of consumer safety and security. There is little to gain from adopting additional state-imposed background check requirements for rideshare drivers, especially when the requirements being proposed won’t actually make riders safer.
A number of prominent members of the songwriting community will descend on Capitol Hill today to lobby lawmakers that streaming music platforms (not to mention many other businesses that play music, from restaurants to hotels to local coffee shops) should pay out more of their revenue to publishers and songwriters. Of course songwriters deserve their fair share, but are they are pointing their fingers at the wrong culprit?
First, let’s acknowledge that artists and record labels earn exponentially more from streaming than songwriters and publishers, so it’s only natural for songwriters to balk at the state of affairs in music streaming royalties.
However, some streaming services currently pay upwards of 50 or even 70 percent of their revenues towards royalties, and depending upon the results of a looming decision by the Copyright Royalty Board, these percentages could rise substantially.
Spotify reports that it has paid over $3 billion in royalties, and Pandora recently announced that it has paid out a total of $1.5 billion. But in unpacking the problem, one realizes the tension between songwriters and the digital platforms is misplaced.
The frustration for songwriters and publishers is that they don’t know where that money is going. There is no transparency and no way for songwriters to track what they are earning from royalty payments.
By: Mike Montgomery
When the California Labor Commission ruled that Uber drivers are employees and should therefore be entitled to benefits, it showed how out of touch our regulators are with the new economy.
The ruling is another reflection of outdated thinking about the employee-employer relationship. Digital platforms and apps are reinventing the intersection of supply and demand. This change may have skyrocketed with ride- and home-sharing, but we will soon use these systems for all types of services, from parents finding Little League batting coaches for their kids, to truckers picking up extra loads on their routes.
These new platforms are creating profound change. Over the last 40 years we’ve gone from a workforce where an employee had two or three employers over his or her lifetime to workers now switching careers regularly and even scaling by hiring their own employees along the way…
by Kish Rajan
On Tuesday, Los Angeles City Hall was the hot spot for anyone who cares about the future of the sharing economy in the City of Angels. I made the trek in order to testify on behalf of the companies that are revolutionizing consumers’ lives as part of what we call the personal enterprise economy.
This new economy lets people work on their own terms. People can work when and where they want with no duty to clock in or out or report to a boss. Undoubtedly, there are issues to work out given the recent decision handed down by the California Labor Commission saying Uber drivers should be considered employees. But that issue might ultimately be better resolved by creating a new classification of worker that will decouple benefits from employers. This would allow people to “work” for multiple companies (or, more precisely, platforms) while still benefiting from things like Social Security, unemployment insurance and workers comp.
Back to the issue at hand…the morning session before the full City Council was all about rideshare, while the afternoon (and early evening – it was a long one) was focused on homesharing before the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (“PLUM”).
There were many arguments in favor of the new technologies; and there was a basic consensus that these new business models are here to stay. So the question wasn’t whether to allow these businesses to operate — but under what rules.
The City Council was, for the most part, thoughtful and tried to understand the facts and to consider the right ways to regulate the app-based engines of the new economy.
But at times, the council defaulted to the standard thinking of trying to apply existing regulatory approaches to new models. Some council members certainly understand that new approaches are needed. CALinnovates looks forward to continuing to educate Los Angeles’ councilmembers on appropriate ways to blend smart regulations into the public policy process rather than defaulting to outdated thinking.
Dozens of supporters turned out to argue passionately about the sharing economy. Hundreds of Angelenos showed up to urge their elected officials to consider the issues and make informed choices about the future of Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and Airbnb.
The stars of the rideshare session were Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Bob Blumenfield. While Bonin was more outspoken, Blumenfield masterfully navigated the chaos and delivered a vote by the slimmest of margins that allows Uber and its brethren the right to pick up passengers at LAX. Without these two standing up for innovation, the vote would have swung in the opposite direction. Silicon Beach should take note of the two protectors of innovation:
“People are baffled that they can take ride share to the airport but can’t take one home.” – Mike Bonin
“We need a uniform standard.” – Mike Bonin in pointing out that limousines, town cars, fly away shuttles and courtesy shuttles do not require background checks.
“There are terrible anecdotes on both sides. I don’t want to legislate on anecdotes, but data.” – Bob Blumenfield
Ultimately, the data trumped the anecdotes and those wishing for a world-class airport (it’s coming) can rejoice that LAX does offer world-class transportation options.
While there was full clarity on the rideshare issue, the home share discussion will continue as the council considers a bill co-authored by Bonin and Council President Herb Wesson.
In the end, Los Angeles’ elected officials showed that they understand that innovation is critical to the city’s future. The council wants to get it right. They need ongoing help and encouragement to get there, and we’ll be there every step of the way.
Los Angeles Times
To the Editor: Dave Rochlin’s op-ed article on the sharing economy misses the mark. (“When ‘innovation’ means rule-breaking,” op-ed, July 27)
Rochlin ridiculously compares the sharing economy to the drug trade, saying both are “gray markets” that form when there is an unmet need within regulated industries. The sharing economy is bringing desperately needed jobs and innovation to regulated markets while serving consumers’ needs. It’s not a dangerous underground market.
Rochlin insists that regulations need not stifle innovation, but that’s exactly what we’ve seen in the taxi and hotel industries. Uber and Airbnb are dragging these industries into the modern world and bringing economic opportunity along with them.
Of course we need regulations, but those regulations need to be smart and modern. Regulating new companies under laws that were written for bygone eras is old-school thinking that will limit society and the economy. Sharing-economy companies are exposing the need for modernizing government. This is the way change happens.
Mike Montgomery, Pacific Palisades