Politics

LA City Council to vote on whether to block plan for Uber at LAX

Uber and Lift may hit a speed bump to LAX pickups.
Uber and Lift may hit a speed bump to LAX pickups.
David McNew/Getty Images

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The Los Angeles City Council will decide Wednesday whether to jump into the fray on the issue of allowing ride share services at LAX.

Last month - after more than a year of back and forth with taxi companies and pressure from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti - the Airport Commission announced a plan to permit companies like Uber and Lyft to pick up passengers at LAX.

The popular ride share services have been banned from picking passengers up from arrivals at LAX - although they can drop people off, just like anybody else.

The Airport Commission plan would create a staging area with a limited number of spots for UberX and Lyft drivers and a geofence to monitor who comes in and out. Ride share cars would be charged $4 to pick up or drop off passengers and all pick ups would be done at departures rather than arrivals, where cabs, shuttles and buses pick up passengers.

Last week, six City Council members introduced a motion to review the plan by the Airport Commission. The Council has the power to veto decisions by city commissions, though it rarely does. 

"There are a lot of concerns remaining, especially about safety," said Councilman Paul Koretz. "I think we will have enough leverage that we can clean up their act."

Koretz has long expressed concerns over ride share companies and wants to see them regulated in the same way as taxis before they're allowed at LAX. That would require more stringent background checks, including fingerprinting, and guarantees that cars are accessible for passengers with disabilities.

However, the vote this week will not decide the fate of the airport's decision. If two-thirds of the council agrees, a hearing and discussion on the matter will go to committee and then be put to a vote later this year.

It's not clear whether there is widespread support in the city council to scrap the plan.

"I don't come to this with a major concern about the decision itself," said Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who signed onto the motion to review the decision. "I like the disruptive technology, but I think there are important issues that need to be addressed and we need to review them."

Uber and Lyft are continuing with the application process for permits from LAX. If the City Council doesn't veto the Airport Commission's decision they could start pick ups at the airport by September.