(KUTV) — Legislators will likely have a chance to weigh in on how the Salt Lake City International Airport regulates businesses that operate there.
At the center of the issue is an app, similar to Airbnb, Uber or Lyft, that allows drivers to rent their vehicles to other drivers for a daily rate.
Several drivers using the service, Turo, have been stopped and face potential legal consequences for exchanging vehicles in the passenger pick-up lanes.
“I think that’s ridiculous,” Turo vice president of government relations Michelle Peacock told 2News. “The fact that someone is just merely accessing the airport, and having no more impact on the airport than you would have if you were picking up your grandmother who was flying — that is a ridiculous criminalization of an everyday activity.”
The Utah-based Libertas Institute provided 2News with police body camera video showing SLC Airport Police stopping Turo drivers.
“Every year it seems like there is an issue where these new companies are struggling to keep up with these outdated regulations,” Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute, told 2News.
The airport ran into similar issues when Uber and Lyft came to town several years ago. The companies eventually reached an agreement with the airport, which requires all businesses that operate on its property to be registered and obtain permission.
Airport spokesperson Nancy Volmer told 2News Monday afternoon that the airport has issued a draft permit to Turo that could allow the company to operate legally.
“We hope they will have a permit and begin legal operations at the airport in the near future,” Volmer wrote in a statement.
Peacock says the company is disappointed with the airport’s proposal because it treats Turo like traditional car rental companies.
“This is a completely different industry and it’s really disappointing to hear these airports are so influenced by this very powerful and well-financed entity who is using their influence to shut down competition,” Peacock said.
Peacock says big car rental companies are lobbying airports around the country to limit Turo’s ability to operate. She points out that Turo does not require airport facilities to store or refuel a fleet of vehicles.
“Please regulate us as a peer-to-peer car sharing business; we will pay fees, we will share information, we will make this work,” Peacock said.
The Libertas Institute says it hopes Turo’s issues will be solved with legislation.
“They’re just connecting people together, and the problem with the regulators right now is they are treating these companies as if they were involved in that businesses themselves,” Boyack said.
Boyack added that specifics of the bill are still being fine tuned, but estimated it will be filed in the legislature this week.