Public debate heated up today with the start of early voting on a local proposition—the petition-driven Proposition 1—that would change regulations for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft.
Today, Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced that he would be voting against the proposed ordinance. His statement reads in part:
I worked to avoid this costly election because neither choice delivers by itself the outcome Austin needs. What Austin needs are safety, TNCs, and local control.
Today, neither Prop 1 choice is best for Austin because neither delivers by itself what we need.
But because these are the only choices in front of me, I will vote "Against" on Prop 1 because I believe such a vote puts Austin and the rideshare companies constructively back at the negotiating table.
I have concluded that only an "Against" vote will allow Austin to find the right solution.
Adler joins such local media outlets such as The Austin Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman, along with, as the Austin Monitor has reported, members of the (kind of late-on-the-draw) Our City, Our Safety, Our Choice political action committee in taking a stand against Prop 1. The Monitor lists a number of influential figures as backing the the anti-Prop 1 PAC, including City Council Member Laura Morrison, former state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday, former Austin Independent School District board President Gina Hinojosa, Travis County Democratic Party Chair Vincent Harding, and Austin Sierra Club’s Roy Waley.
The Monitor story also notes that the "vote no" PAC has raised only $12,000, compared the nearly $2.2 million the site reported that Lyft and Uber have contributed to the Ridesharing Works for Austin PAC , which has mounted a sustained campaign to encourage voters to approve the measure.
Adler's statement also mentioned his pique at the fact that the city's Smart Cities Mobility Challenge proposal, which put the city in the running for federal grant money to start innovative transportation pilot programs, might be affected by the vote.
According to Adler's statement, the National Chamber of Commerce has tried to make that connection, "suggesting that a defeat of Prop 1 ought perhaps disqualify us, or at least reduce our chances"—the logic being that it would show that Austin isn't locked in tight enough on that most elusive of targets, innovation.
• Statement by Mayor Adler on Proposition 1 and the Smart City Challenge [MayorAdler.com]
• Austin leaders speak out against Prop 1 [Austin Monitor]