From the Dorchester Reporter in Dorchester, Massachusetts: “Interested in improving early education in his home city, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and a delegation of other top city officials toured Boston schools last week.”
Mayor Murray released the following statement today regarding regulations on taxis, for-hire vehicles and transportation network companies (commonly referred to as ridesharing services):
“Taxis, for-hire vehicles and transportation network companies all help make our roads safe and our city accessible. They provide access to jobs and economic opportunity for many first-time entrants into the job market, and for those looking for flexible full- or part-time work. They make it possible to live in Seattle without a car – or to leave a car at home – and help create a more vibrant nightlife.
Taxis, for-hire vehicles and transportation network companies all have a place in Seattle.
Last Thursday the City Council Committee on Taxi, For-Hire and Limousine Regulations voted on a set of new regulations for TNCs to help ensure safety for passengers, drivers and the general public.
I was pleased to work with the Committee and with the stakeholders on finding a balanced proposal.
From the time my office entered this discussion, I have had four main concerns:
First, my priority was safety for all, and I wanted to ensure that any final regulations on TNCs include insurance and safety requirements commensurate to taxis and for-hire vehicles currently licensed in Seattle, which the Committee adopted. These safety requirements, once enacted, will enable the TNCs to become licensed and to operate legally and safely in Seattle. And let me add, the City will enforce them.
Second, I recognized that current law-abiding taxi and for-hire license holders and drivers played by a set of rules long-established by the City, and so wanted to ensure that these drivers got some relief from some of the most burdensome regulations. This includes changes to insurance regulations that limit the number of available insurance carriers, streamlining the required training course to focus on safety, increasing the number of available taxi licenses, and allowing for-hire drivers street-hailing rights.
Third, I advocated all along for a comprehensive review of the entire regulatory framework of the industry, in addition to the changes noted above, which the Committee adopted. The industry is heavily regulated, and we must explore additional ways to ‘level the playing field’ and increase efficiency and innovation in the industry, so all players have the opportunity to succeed. All of Seattle – including passengers, drivers, and local business owners – will benefit from a clear, modernized set of regulations that promote good business and fair play.
Lastly, it was my goal to avoid caps on TNCs, which I do not support on principle. However as a short-term measure, I can support a reasonable, temporary cap. We helped negotiate a cap on the number of vehicles ‘live’ on the TNC system at any given time, which is more reasonable and more flexible than a cap on the number of drivers. And we helped negotiate a cap that, while lower than I would have liked, is temporary. I also believe, that after twelve months, it only makes sense to look at the data to determine the impacts of the TNCs on the industry and assess whether the temporary cap level needs adjustment. I would like to thank Councilmember Clark for supporting this approach, and I strongly encourage the full City Council to include this 12-month review when it considers the legislation at its meeting on March 10th.”
For more information on the work that’s been done by the City Council on this issue, please visit the Council website.
Mayor Murray co-wrote a guest editorial for the Sunday edition of the Seattle Times concerning tax incentives for research and development in Washington state. The column starts:
“If taxpayers knew they could make an investment that would help spur the growth of Washington’s technology sector, generate thousands of high-paying technology jobs and pay itself off many times over, most would do so in a heartbeat.
In fact, taxpayers have already been making this investment for two decades, and have received tremendous returns on their investment along the way. The tech sector has added more than 106,000 direct jobs since 1990, created $21.8 billion of income from technology employment and contributed nearly $3 billion in business-and-occupation and sales taxes to the state.”
The Mayor recently chatted with Geekwire’s Taylor Soper about the future of the Startup Seattle Initiative under his administration. In the interview, Mayor Murray expresses his interesting in beefing up resources to the program but under the condition that the program’s intent and goals need to be made more explicit. Following is an excerpt from the interview, but you can read the whole thing here.
The mayor is also bullish on the work coming out of the University of Washington, a place that could soon become a new thriving startup hub.
“I think that the UW and the city together have a real opportunity to really make this a place where people come to do startups,” Murray said.
Murray made it clear that he doesn’t like “the old model,” which he described as cities and states stealing companies from each other by offering attractive incentives like tax breaks.
“That is the losing model,” he said. “You don’t gain any money off it. How you gain revenue and gain jobs is by actually incubating your own startups — companies that choose to be in this city. We want our startups to be home grown, and we want people to move here who have good ideas, or for the people already here who have good ideas, we want them to have access to more resources.”
Crosscut’s Bryan Johnson sat down with the Mayor in an exclusive interview to discuss how to make sure waterfront projects fit together, what his biggest frustration in office has been and the status of changes to the police department.
The major topic of conversation was the waterfront, including what the Mayor intends to do about a $40 million cost overrun for the rebuilding of Seattle’s Elliott Bay seawall and how a damaged tunnel boring machine might affect progress on the waterfront. Mayor Murray reaffirmed that, despite problems with the tunnel project, work on the waterfront will continue and will do so under the management of a newly created Office of the Waterfront.
“It is a serious problem. It’s one that we tried to raise during the campaign and were told it wasn’t a problem. It turns out that actually the Seattle Department of Transportation had the information that [there] was a 40 billion cost overrun. That came out after the election. It’s now my problem. …
“We are bringing on new project managers, individuals who have had experience managing major mega projects, including tunneling. I think the problem has been, [SDOT] has not had the capacity and the skill level to manage a mega project. So we’re going to bring people in who can help us manage that project and help us keep costs under control.
“I believe in the current budget that we can find the savings to make up the difference for the cost overrun, but that’s just our preliminary look.”
Mayor Murray also joined Mayor Hancock on the Today Show this morning to announce a national-level Super Bowl wager, this time for a service project in the winning city. The losing mayor will visit the winning mayor’s city for a day of service which will be organized by Americorps. Mayor Murray also predicted a 24-14 Seahawks win for the game.
You can read the full details of the bet in this press release from the Corporation for National & Community Service.
Watch the interview here:
Last night, Mayor Murray made a fun guest appearance on the Colbert Report alongside Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. The two made their Super Bowl predictions (no surprises) and made a friendly wager with a surprise ending.
Watch the debate after the jump…
The Mayor was featured on MSNBC’s Jansing & Co this morning discussing his move to raise Seattle’s minimum wage. Speaking with the show’s host, veteran journalist Chris Jansing, the Mayor emphasized his goal of creating a more affordable and economically diverse city.
“Seattle’s a very successful city. It’s economy is doing great and one of the byproducts of that is it’s becoming less and less affordable, so the people who work hard in Seattle can’t afford to live there. If we don’t address issues of wages and housing, it will simply become a city of the very rich and I don’t think that’s good for the business environment at all,” the Mayor said. “I think we can do this in a way that will help business, not hurt business. I think we need to be sensitive, particularly, to small businesses, but I do think we need to be a city that is economically diverse.”