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City Council tries to make Uber and Lyft reconsider coming to Roseburg

November 28, 2018

City Council said Monday it will try again to convince Uber and Lyft to come to Roseburg. The companies refused to begin service in the area after objecting to regulations the city adopted this summer.

The city council meeting was the first in more than a month. Veteran’s Day fell on the regular meeting day earlier this month.

The agenda was full and meeting lasted over two hours. In addition to the Uber and Lyft debate, the council voted to expand an enhanced law enforcement area and adopted a policy regarding usage fees for meeting rooms at the new public library.

In the latest move concerning ride sharing in Roseburg, councilors advised city staff to draft changes to its ride share service ordinance to make Uber and Lyft reconsider coming to Roseburg. At issue were the city’s separate background check requirements for drivers.

This summer, the city adopted an ordinance that permitted ride share services in town. The ordinance, unlike those in places such as Eugene and Medford, subjected ride share service drivers to a background check through the city and required them to obtain a city driver’s permit.

Following the adoption of the ordinance, Uber and Lyft said they wouldn’t come to Roseburg because the companies already conduct background checks going back seven years on their drivers.

Since then, city staff renegotiated with the ride share services to determine how the city could make Uber and Lyft reconsider coming to Roseburg.

Lyft said the company would reconsider coming if the city removed the separate background checks and driver’s permit requirements from its ordinance, according to City Recorder Amy Sowa, who participated in the negotiations.

Uber, however, said that it would only come if the city became part of the service area of either Eugene or Medford. If Roseburg became part of the service area of another city, drivers would still have to obtain a business license through the city of Roseburg, but they would be regulated by the ordinance in the other city. Neither Medford nor Eugene conduct separate background checks on drivers.

Councilor Steve Kaser expressed reluctance to becoming part of the service area of another city.

“I feel uncomfortable just saying, ‘Okay, we’ll be under Eugene or Medford’s service area,’ because they could change anything they want, and we’re kind of stuck with that,” Kaser said.

City council ultimately didn’t advise city staff to draft ordinance changes that would make Roseburg part of another city’s service area, despite Uber’s wishes. City staff will instead draft changes to the current background check requirements, making Lyft more likely to come.

After stating that he had received unclear direction from city council, City Manager Lance Colley said city staff will draft something that works to bring at least one of the ride share services to the city.

In other business, the city council also moved to expand an existing enhanced law enforcement area.

The current area runs from Southeast Mosher Avenue north to Northeast Diamond Lake Boulevard and from Southeast Kane Street west to the railroad. The change extends the area to include all the land from the railroad west to the riverfront from Southeast Oak Avenue north to Diamond Lake Boulevard.

The enhanced law enforcement area allows the city to ban people from the area if they commit certain crimes such as assault, disorderly conduct or drug crimes three times within its boundaries.

Roseburg Police Chief Gary Klopfenstein said that the extension was necessary to prevent the area near the riverfront from becoming a haven for people who knew they would be outside the existing enhanced law enforcement area.

City council also moved to adopt a $25 usage fee for meeting rooms in the new Roseburg Public Library. The Library Commission created the fees to cover the cost of labor to clean the rooms after their use. When the library was under the county system, there was no usage fees for the rooms.

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