Contentious Delivery Fee Cap Approved By City Council

After several close calls and failed attempts, the Burbank City Council narrowly passed a temporary ordinance limiting fees third-party delivery platforms can charge restaurants.
The ordinance, which council members approved with a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, will prevent services such as Grubhub, Postmates and Uber Eats from charging a vendor more than 20% of the online purchase price of an order. City staff members said those fees have reportedly been as high as 40%.
The initiative will go into effect at the end of April and will expire when indoor and outdoor dining return to full capacity, unless the City Council extends or terminates it before then. Food delivery platforms will also be barred from reducing drivers’ pay or tips because of the ordinance, which additionally requires services to provide customers with an itemized receipt.
Restaurants who allege that a service has violated the ordinance can sue it in small-claims court.

The ordinance quickly became a contentious issue among council members after Councilman Nick Schultz requested the item in January. An attempt to have it enacted as an emergency action — requiring a four-fifths vote — failed when Councilwoman Sharon Springer dissented and Councilman Konstantine Anthony abstained.
The ordinance was brought back on March 16 via the usual, longer ordinance process — requiring only a majority vote — but was again voted down after Mayor Bob Frutos joined Springer in her opposition.
However, a last-minute vote from Anthony — who said he had recused himself from the other votes because he had considered working for the platforms in the future — allowed supporters to return the ordinance to the agenda. Despite Frutos’ adamant opposition to Anthony’s reversal, the item was narrowly introduced with affirmative votes from Schultz, Anthony and Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes.
The ordinance was enacted by the same supporters on Tuesday, with Frutos and Springer dissenting. There was no further discussion on the item this week.
Proponents of the ordinance, including the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, believe it will help protect local restaurants which depend on third-party delivery services while their capacities are limited by coronavirus restrictions. But opponents worry that the ordinance takes control away from delivery businesses and that the platform would find other ways to recoup their fees, such as by charging customers more.

POLICE COMMISSION EXPANSION INTRODUCED
The City Council also voted to introduce an ordinance that would expand the size of the Police Commission’s membership to seven, a change advocates believe would allow the council to increase the commission’s diversity.
The Police Commission, which serves as an advisory board to the City Council on matters relating to the Burbank Police Department, previously had seven members before the council decreased that number to five. But after some community members questioned the racial and ethnic diversity of the commission’s membership, the group debated whether to recommend the council increase its size.
The Police Commission ultimately decided against issuing that recommendation, and voted that the City Council select commissioners based on their qualifications and “regardless of any consideration of their ethnicity, color, gender, profession or any other factor that might exclude people from serving.”
However, when the recommendation came to the City Council in February along with several others, council members agreed instead that they “should appoint the best qualified candidate(s) and strive for diversity of ethnicities, color, gender, professions or other characteristics of our Burbank community.”
That potential change to Burbank’s municipal code was approved, 4-1, along with the commission’s membership expansion on Tuesday. Mayor Frutos, who served on the Police Commission before joining the City Council, voted against the motion without comment.
As three Police Commission members’ terms expire in July, the City Council would appoint a total of five commissioners this year, with their terms beginning on Aug. 1. The panel will decide whether to approve the ordinance during its meeting on April 13.