The digital age continues to create new challenges for municipalities, most recently in the form of ridesharing apps such as Uber and Lyft. The concept is simple: users can download the app and call for a ride anywhere in Sonoma County. If a driver is available, they will come pick you up and let you know how long it’ll be until they arrive. But complications arise when cities attempt to regulate these services, including ordering drivers to carry insurance or city-issued licenses and other requirements that traditional taxi businesses have long had to comply with. Since beginning operations in Sonoma County this spring, local officials have not said whether they will attempt to regulate the service. However, some cities have been forced to explore how to monitor such services after issues of public safety arose. For example, in San Francisco a 6-year-old girl was struck and killed by an Uber driver while crossing the street with her mother and brother. Those who responded to this week’s online poll were split on whether the City of Petaluma should regulate such services, with a slight majority in favor of regulation. Here were some of the comments:
“If taxis, buses and limos are regulated, then so should other rideshare and for-profit enterprises.”

“Please stay out of our lives and business. There’s too much government already. That’s all I need, people like (former City Councilmembers) Pam Torliatt and City Councilmember Theresa Barrett telling me what to do.”

“Leave private business alone.”

“Our city can’t even regulate a drive-thru window, much less ridesharing services.”

“Don’t be so scared, my fellow country bumpkins, if you have ever used these services in the city you know that they do a great job of regulating themselves.”

“The City of Petaluma is not good at regulating anything. Why add to the list?”

“They are going to dump a bunch of distracted drivers on the road and put our pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, bus riders and regular drivers at risk. Regular taxis are regulated. We should lead the way and keep them tightly controlled.”

“Anyone with common sense knows this is bad news for Petaluma in terms of safety. Extremely bad news. Regulate now before we start reading about the horror stories that are already happening in other areas.”

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