This article will cover the war between The Portand Transportation Bureau  and Transportation Network Giant UBER.  This week we have the: newcomer, the underdog, the anti-hero.

The People’s Champion: UBER.

We here at Peterson Law Offices told you about the city’s effort to keep UBER out of Portland in August. We declared it to be a complete waste of time and resources. A further example about how city officials are completely out of touch with a future that is already here.  The city cited a false claim of gaps in UBER’s insurance policy as a reason for its exclusion from the Portland metro area, revealing themselves as completely unprepared to implement the transportation network giant.

Fed up with the slow dredge of bureaucracy, UBER made waves across the country by announcing they planned on moving ahead with their plans to launch in Portland.  City officials then scrambled to man their bureaucratic battle stations. Setting their sights on UBER with a lawsuit and a cease and desist order. While also, of course, threatening the people of Portland with fines and criminal prosecution.

Their weapon of choice? Fines of approximately: $1,000, $2,000, and $5,000 in an escalating scale of offenses.   

News Release:

Uber and its drivers may face penalties, fines for operating illegally in Portland, Transportation Bureau warns: 

Code Section Requirement 1st Offense 2nd Offense Subsequent Offenses
16.40.090 A. LPT and Taxi Driver Permit $1,000 $2,500


16.40.150 A. Taxi Company Permit $1,500 $2,500 $5,000
16.40.190 B. Taxiplate $1,250 $2,500 $5,000

Can you feel the sudden draft of cold wind and the slowly creeping touch of government hands around your neck?

It’s been perfectly obvious that sharing startups like  AirBnb, Lyft, UBER, and Taskrabbit are all,in their own ways, one part of the solution to the efficiency gaps in our economy.  Our elected officials are elected in part to make decisions that will improve the overall utility of our society. Every day should be better than the last.  All of these startups are potential opportunities we are lucky to have.  Unfortunately, the city has treated them like foreign invaders.

In August, a Portland City Commissioner told Geekwire that putting the work in to establish regulations and guidelines for sharing applications like UBER were not a priority.

What do we have here?

Power Through Obfuscation?


Mayor Hales wants to be the progressive guy that Portland so desires.  Which is why he says,

“Portland embraces the technology of the sharing economy. The city will continue to work with transportation-network companies like Lyft to embrace that economy. To the degree that Uber wants to be part of that process: fine.”

…on his facebook page.

However, the work put into implementing the sharing economy is clearly not a priority. Portland is completely surrounded by UBER supported suburbs with Gresham, Tigard, Beaverton, and Hillsboro all in for the ride sharing program.

No one puts Charlie Hales in a corner.

Prepare Your Sacrifice, the Gods are Fighting

Portland’s transportation commissioner Steve Novick told The Oregonian. “This is really amazing. Apparently, they believe they’re gods.”

It’s unclear what role Steve Novick thinks he is playing here. The man, despite an overwhelming public outcry, deemed the issue of drafting regulations on UBER completely unimportant.  Even though Mayor Charlie Hales has continued to assert Mr. Novick’s “taskforce” is currently working on solving the regulation problem.

UBER’s Seattle General Manager Brooke Steger claims they have been trying to engage with the city for a year and a half to write the regulations for transportation network companies.  Regulations that Seattle has already established and amended.

The reality is this. The transportation bureau’s job was to see UBER as an opportunity for the people they represent. Their concerns about UBER’s legality were supposed to be the basis of regulations for the aforementioned company.  Deadline: ASAP.  The insistence and ambition of the people behind UBER was supposed to be seen as impetus for the city officials to finally do their jobs.  Seattle did:

AN ORDINANCE relating to transportation network companies, taxi, and for-hire services and affiliated drivers and vehicles: establishing minimum operating requirements for transportation network companies and affiliated drivers; imposing industry-wide vehicle inspection and driver training processes; imposing insurance requirements for transportation network companies and affiliated vehicles; altering insurance requirements for taxi and for-hire vehicles; requiring rate transparency across industries; establishing and altering licensing fees; establishing an accessible service charge; raising the maximum number of taxicab licenses issued by the City; allowing hailing rights for for-hire vehicles; establishing a property right for taxi and for-hire vehicle license holders; revising terminology; adding new sections, amending various Sections of Chapter 6.310 of the Seattle Municipal Code, repealing Ordinance 124441, and amending Ordinance 124349, which adopted the 2014 Budget.

While Seattle was being proactive and anticipating the inevitable clash between efficiency and government regulation, Portland was doing this:


The city sat on their hands and played a game of you can’t make me do it.

The Sharing Economy is the People’s Economy

Sharing resources is inherent in the concept of society.  The question has never been whether or not to share, it’s always a question of how.  Ideas needed the printing press,  food needed the agricultural revolution, America needed the constitution, and with declining salaries and increasing tuition costs, we need the sharing economy.  Specifically our younger demographic.

There is a perception that 20’s and 30’s somethings in Portland are chilled to the point of lacking ambition. The reality is that the 20’s and 30’s somethings in Portland are typically transplants. They’ve read some Top 10 Portland article and it went on their list of acceptable places to live. Ultimately, Portland is chosen because Portland accepts… accepts… and accepts some more. So the 20’s and 30’s somethings are the most ambitious members of small towns all around the country. They identify with life being more than just numbers on the boards. Which is why they take lesser paying jobs and sacrifice financial opportunities elsewhere.

No path forward is without obstacles. Rose City ‘Til I Die.

UBER as the People’s Champion

The personification of the Zeitgeist has always been problematic.  The sharing economy may be the next generation’s answer to the failure of our forefathers but whether or not UBER should be the face of it is more prickly.

Think about it this way,  Who is the face of modern technology? Steve Jobs or Bill Gates?

At one point Bill Gates was the idea stealing corporate personification of greed and Jobs was a visionary who was more interested in Indian soaking pools than turning a profit. Now Gates is a philanthropist with visionary ideas on education and Jobs is the idea stealing, Wozniak leeching, social dictator.

UBER’s narrative has yet to be written. Right now they come off as brash, incessant and bold which is both positive and negative. You never know if you are going to come off as Don Draper or Pete Campbell with this kind of profile.

We are the Losers

Ridiculous and unnecessary fines, tax dollars spent pontificating false notions of gaps in insurance liability, and the elimination of hundreds of micro businesses that are desperately needed in our, be or be feasted upon, local economy.  Four months ago we told you the city’s fight against UBER was a waste of time. In 9 months from now when LYFT and UBER are operating, we will write again, all of this was a complete waste.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation and Mayor Charlie Hales are upset.

Uber doesn’t care. To be Frank, neither do we.

If you would like to get behind the movement to bring UBER to Portland, you can sign their petition here:

Tune in next week when we explore the other side with NOVICK: OUR PROTECTOR.


Written by Roscoe Myrick.




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