The city of Anchorage on Friday filed a lawsuit in state Superior Court seeking an injunction requiring Uber, the digital car service, to stop operations just weeks after it began offering rides.
Anchorage municipal attorney Dennis Wheeler’s office sent the San Francisco-based company two cease-and-desist letters in the weeks after Uber began operating there on Sept. 18, and one Uber driver was issued a fine. But the company didn’t respond to the letters, forcing the city to go to court.
As in other cities that have taken Uber to court, hired transportation is strictly regulated, from the number of operator licenses available to the insurance and background checks required of the drivers themselves. In several cities, including in Anchorage, Uber has begun operating without waiting for the city to change its laws.
“It seems to be sort of their standard operating procedure to go into jurisdictions, operate without compliance of local code and not necessarily following cease-and-desist letters,” Wheeler told Alaska Dispatch News. “From my perspective, it’s not a good way to start a relationship.”
Taxi cab companies are some of the most powerful political interests in cities around the country. They argue that Uber doesn’t require the same standards to which their drivers must adhere, and both Uber and the cab companies have fought over insurance requirements.
Already, California and Colorado regulate Uber at a statewide level. Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles banned Uber and Lyft, a competing ride-share service, in June. The Seattle City Council voted in March to severely limit the number of rideshare driver permits, a big win for taxi unions. And cities like Vancouver, Berlin and Hamburg have banned Uber from operating, at least for the time being.
An Uber spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday morning, before business hours on the West Coast.
(Disclosure: Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos is an Uber investor.)