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Ashland Mayor Issues 'Friendly Veto' of Ordinance Allowing Rideshares

Despite majority support from the City Council, an updated ordinance inviting rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in the City now faces an uncertain future.

Posted: Feb 11, 2019 10:58 AM
Updated: Feb 11, 2019 3:24 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. --

UPDATE: In a statement issued on Monday, Mayor John Stromberg provided his justifications for vetoing Ordinance 3165 "Related to Vehicles for Hire."

Stromberg began by saying that he very rarely issues vetoes, but tends to reserve the power for when he believes a matter needs "further consideration" before a final decision is made.

"I have vetoed only one other ordinance in the past 10 years, one having to do with chickens," Stromberg said. "I took that action to give the Council an opportunity to redo a vote in which there was some confusion."

Stromberg said that this most recent use of the power was intended as a "friendly veto" — indicating that there were more questions to be answered before an ordinance should be approved.

CLICK HERE for Mayor Stromberg's full statement regarding his veto of the ordinance.

Stromberg's numbered defense of his veto hinges primarily on concessions that he hoped to obtain from Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) that some larger cities have managed to negotiate — comprehensive background checks for drivers, stricter requirements for vehicle safety inspections, and mandated wheelchair accessibility.

The City of Medford's agreement with the TNCs lacked these tighter requirements, and both Uber and Lyft have signalled their ambivalence to Ashland's more rigorous requirements by studiously ignoring the city after a previous ordinance went into effect.

Stromberg's other points address everything from the companies' "constructive role in the community" (or lack there-of), competition with Rogue Valley Transportation District and local taxi companies, the availability for fixed-income residents, and greenhouse gases.

"The purpose of this veto is not to permanently ban ride-hailing services from operating out of Ashland. Its purpose is to urge the Council to more thoroughly consider the pros and cons and to seek some fairly minor accommodations from the TNCs on behalf of our citizens," Stromberg said. 

(Updated 2/11/19 at 3 p.m.)

UPDATE: Ashland Mayor John Stromberg has vetoed a decision by the city council to allow rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in the city, according to City Councillor Julie Akins.

"It means the council will have to deliberate again on this measure. It will slow or potentially kill the ordinance which would have allowed Uber and Lyft to operate in Ashland," Akins said.

According to Akins, the Mayor's primary concerns centered around "the impacts of climate change, safety and accessibility."

This is a developing story, and NewsWatch 12 awaits an official statement from the City for further details.

(Updated 2/11/19 at 11 a.m.)

INITIAL REPORT: Ashland could soon see rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft driving around the city. The city changed a section in one of its ordinances to be more favorable to those rideshare companies, Tuesday evening. The new ordinance gets rid of two parts neither Uber nor Lyft liked--vehicle inspections and mandatory wheelchair-accessible cars. The new ordinance goes into effect in 30 days.

Southern Oregon University students are excited for the possibility.

“I really hope that Ashland gets Lyft and Uber. [It gives] the students who don't have cars the opportunity to go downtown or even to go to Medford and be able to grocery shop in Medford and go to more stores in Ashland and just [be] part of more of the area and the community," said Jennifer Younker.

"Ashland is really small so a lot of things are in walking distance,” said student Jade Mahoe. “It makes it a lot easier on a lot of people individually or in groups getting home from the bars or clubs in Downtown Ashland or even coming from back and forth from like Medford."

"When people come to visit they're used to having Uber or Lyft come around town and then they come here and they're [ask] ‘do you have Uber or Lyft?' and we're like 'No we have a taxi maybe you can get a hold of.' I think it will make everyone's lives a lot easier," added Marcus Montano.

The Assistant City Attorney said now it’s about waiting to see if the two rideshares will apply to operate in the city. Both rideshare companies responded to NewsWatch 12’s request for comment.

You can read both below:

"We appreciate the Council's continued work to create more transportation options for the residents and visitors to Ashland, and Lyft looks forward to bringing reliable and efficient rideshare services to the area soon."

"We appreciate the recent rideshare-related action of the Ashland City Council. It's a positive development for both area riders and drivers. We hope to launch service in Ashland in the near future."

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