The caliber of multifamily amenities has reached a whole new (arguably somewhat ridiculous) level in the past 5 years. A higher demand for the flexible in-town lifestyle that renting offers has taken amenities to unprecedented heights to win over prospects. Pet spas nicer than my personal shower, 24/7 valet, high rise rooftop terraces overlooking city skylines, and complimentary fitness classes are just a few of the abundant amenities we've seen become commonplace in the industry. One community feature however, may be disappearing as quickly as it emerged thanks to new legislation in California. "Uber Waiting Rooms," a.k.a. designated areas within apartment buildings where prospects can wait for their Uber or Lyft to arrive, may be quickly coming a thing of the past. Last week, California ordered the major ride share companies to treat their drivers as employees instead of contract workers. Lyft and Uber both attempted to delay the order, but unless voters come to the plate on their behalf the ruling seems inevitable.
This change would require the ride hailing companies to do a complete restructuring of their business models, which currently consider their drivers as independent contractors. A transition to treating their drivers as full-time employees would be extremely costly and a logistical nightmare- introducing the need for traditional benefits, health care, and more. This is a tough ask for Uber, a company that lost a reported $8.5 billion in 2019 and whose year-over-year revenue is down 29.22% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order requires the change to take place by August 20th, which isn't very feasible financially or logistically. As a result, it appears that Lyft and Uber (both of which are interestingly headquartered in San Francisco, CA) won't be operating in California for the foreseeable future. Thus, this is at least a temporary end for "Uber Waiting Rooms" in apartment buildings. If you have any communities with these designated areas, start thinking of other ways to utilize these spaces safely for your residents- keeping social distancing in mind. California is certainly the most progressive in introducing new laws to the tech space- i.e. CCPA for online user data protection and now AB5, the California bill which classifies gig workers as employees. It will be interesting to see if this philosophy filters into other states as well moving forward. If so, it could have a very interesting impact on urban traffic flows, overall lifestyle, and transport for apartment renters if and when things "get back to normal" and people begin to return to their offices.