TNC Driver Licensing: San Francisco vs. The State of California

The City of San Francisco is suing the State of California over Senate Bill SB 182, which according to SF is an infringement on the cities right to regulate its business due to the nature of the bill.

So, what is SB 182, let's take a look.

SB 182 states that all local jurisdictions are prohibited from requiring a TNC driver to obtain a business license, to operate as a driver for a transportation network company, and from requiring that driver to obtain more than a single business license regardless of the number of local jurisdictions in which the driver operates. This means that the driver only needs to register once, in the city where he/she lives, and that covers the State requirements.

This might sound fair to some, where you request a driver obtain a license to work in the city they live in, but what happens when a driver works in another city? Let's look at the retail and office options. If you own a shop, you need to register it in the city you are in. If you open a branch in another city, you need to register it in that one too. If you are a driver and your office is your car, where do you register? In California's case, you register it where your home or individual business is registered.

San Francisco doesn't agree; they claim that the car is the office and location, as such, if a driver is registered in Los Angeles and come to work in SF, then they should pay SF as well as, or instead of LA.

According to Dennis Herrera, SF City Attorney, 29% of the 45,000 TNC drivers working in SF don't live in the city and as such don't pay city taxes and fees due to SB 182. This adds insult to injury since the out of town drivers take away income from SF based drivers and don't pay taxes for this privilege. It also increases congestion in the city, which is bad enough without TNC cars. In fact, he goes one step further and claims that SB 182 is an attempt to take the city's rights to regulate its business in favor of one specific sector.

Hererra goes on to claim that the bill is a handout to Uber and Lyft and deregulates a focused population sector. Hererra said "Uber and Lyft need to play by the same rules as every other business in San Francisco. Nearly everyone, from a professional dog walker to Google, has to register their business. Uber and Lyft's attempt to carve out a special exemption for their drivers is not fair."

Senator Steven Bradford, the author of SB 182, replied to Hererra's claims by stating "SB 182 is a straightforward measure that I authored to protect all Californians, who work as TNC drivers, from dubious taxes and fees. Many of these drivers are part-time and working multiple jobs to survive. This is a frivolous lawsuit."

Quick analysis:
Thesis: The City of SF is suing the State of CA for infringing on it’s municipal rights to charge an out of town driver for performing business in the town, if the driver already paid fees to another municipality.

  1. If I live in SF I pay city taxes, licenses and fees.
  2. If I don’t live in the SF I don’t pay the above since I am a driver and my home address is where I pay business taxes and fees etc.
    Anti-Thesis: A driver is not a retailer, he/she does not have multiple sites to pay taxes for each site, the driver has a car and if they are self employed their home is the designated place of business. If a driver were a retailer then the place of business would be the car, and this is what the City if SF is stating. That the home is not the place of work, the car is. So, if a driver lives in Santa Barbara and works in SF, then they should pay taxes and fees in SF, since it is like opening an office in SF without paying taxes and fees.
    Synthesis: It will be an interesting day in court, since there are two kinds of drivers, the self employed using their home as their business address and the LLC, using the location of the LLC as the place of business. If however, a driver is like a market stall owner, then it doesn’t matter where he/she lives, the market stall requires a license. The City will have to argue and persuade the court that the drivers car is their actual place of business, like a market stall owner, and therefore when they work in a city that is not where they live, their business should be taxed and licensed accordingly.
    This is one case to follow

Andrew, this isn’t Uni, you don’t need to go all Hegel over my backside. Yes, I do know what you are talking about, and I agree with the state of CA. I also sympathize with the drivers in SF. I thin there is a case where drivers that work in a specific area should pay taxes in that area and not the place of their living.