Drivers operating an Uber or Lyft in San Francisco will now be required to obtain a business license from the city.
City Treasurer Jose Cisneros has refused to say why the new law was issued for some 37,000 drivers.
The business license will cost drivers $91 annually.
San Francisco launched a new online business registration system in March, removing the need for potential business owners to head to city hall in person.
Uber has long argued that its drivers should remain independent contractors — forcing them to register as a business it appears that officials in San Francisco are turning the otis back on Uber and Lyft drivers to run a legitimate owner-operator business in the city.
Another reason the treasurer is taking action now may be that he finally has the names of the drivers. Uber and Lyft have long refused to provide drivers’ names and addresses to the city.
It’s not clear how the city has managed to obtain the name of Uber and Lyft drivers at this time.
The license will cost drivers $91 a year if they earn $100,000 or less in gross receipts.
For drivers who have been using Uber and Lyft for years, they will have to pay for the years in which they operated without a license.
Cisneros’ letter, which will be sent in three batches — on Friday, Monday and Tuesday — states that the recipient has been identified as a driver for a transportation network company and therefore must obtain a business registration certificate within 30 days.
“Failure to respond to this letter may result in penalties and payment obligations,” the letter states.
“We have a very broad and comprehensive business registration requirement,” Ciseneros said. “This has been a law that has been around for many years. It’s very clearly spelled out on our website — the law here in San Francisco requires you to register your business with the city. If they missed that requirement, they are still obligated to do that.”
Uber says it has no plans to fight back against the cities decision to charge drivers for an annual business license.