The 2010 primary election that unseated mayor Adrian Fenty in favor of former council chief Vincent Gray was mostly portrayed as gentrifiers versus the poor, black versus white. But another key dynamic was "incumbent versus newcomer". DC's absurd zone fare system used to be a way for taxi drivers who lived in the district to fleece affluent people who mostly didn't; the DC school system was viewed as a jobs program, as well as a way to educate kids. Fenty threatened the incumbent stakeholders, and they, in turn, helped elect Vincent Gray.
An Uber car was impounded and its driver was ticketed this morning as part of a sting operation, said the commission chairman, Ron Linton. The action comes two days after Linton said in a commission meeting that he considered the service to be operating illegally.
Linton played a role in the sting, hailing a Uber car from a smartphone then directing it to the Mayflower Hotel, where city hack inspectors were waiting. The driver, who was not identified, was ticketed for two violations, Linton said.
The first alleged violation was "incorrect hauling" -- because the driver and his car are licensed in Virginia, he is allowed to pick up a District passenger only if he is going to take the rider to Virginia; Linton's trip was completely within the District. The second was "improper charging" -- under city law, limousine trips must have a fare set in advance; Uber's system uses time-and-distance metering, and Linton said the driver refused to cite him a fare before the trip began.
"What they're trying to do is be both a taxi and a limousine," Linton said. "Under the way the law is written, it just can't be done."
The driver, Linton said, will have an opportunity to appeal his tickets, which carry hefty fines.
The complaint is that they don't have a license to do what they do. Of course, there's no way to get a license to do what they do--it doesn't exist--and no one's come up with a very sound argument as to why it shouldn't exist. I don't think I understand what scourge an Uber shutdown protects DC citizens from.
Over the past week, District officials have been visiting food trucks and telling them that beginning on Jan 13, 2012, they will be ticketing food trucks that don't have a line formed in front of them.
Specifically, if there is a lapse of more than 15 minutes between customers, the food truck will receive a $1000 fine!UPDATE: I hate to report this, but the news is even worse.. District officials were allowing 15 minutes between customers, but starting tomorrow, they will have no time frame! The fine is also set at $50, but escalates with every violation (so, I'm guessing that's where the $1000 figure comes from). This means that if MPD rolls up and sees a truck with no line, they are immediately fined $50 and told to pack things up and go home. To add insult to injury, if a truck racks up 17 of these violations in one year, they can have their license revoked.As you may know, DC food trucks are operating under decades-old ice cream truck regulations. District Mayor, Vincent Gray (firstname.lastname@example.org), has new unpublished regulations sitting on his desk that would bring DC's laws up to date with the current times. But, he is refusing to move forward with updating the food truck regulations, probably because he doesn't want to ruffle the feathers of the restaurant association.