In an email to its customers, Uber argued that the cap makes their food delivery business too expensive to deliver out to Treasure Island. (Courtesy photo)

In an email to its customers, Uber argued that the cap makes their food delivery business too expensive to deliver out to Treasure Island. (Courtesy photo)

SF vs. Uber Eats: Service stops food delivery to Treasure Island citing fee cap

Uber Eats has ended all food deliveries to Treasure Island, citing Mayor London Breed’s cap on delivery fees.

Uber Eats has ended all food deliveries to Treasure Island, citing Mayor London Breed’s cap on delivery fees.

But one city leader has already called the move discriminatory against a community mostly populated by low-income people of color.

Breed announced her order to keep app-based delivery fees to 15 percent or less, so small businesses like local restaurants wouldn’t feel the pinch from billionaire companies like Uber, GrubHub or Postmates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an email to its customers, Uber argued that the cap makes their food delivery business too expensive to deliver out to Treasure Island.

“New regulations mean we can’t deliver to you,” the email reads. Referencing Breed’s fee cap, the email explains, “The Order limits our ability to cover operational costs … unfortunately, this means we cannot continue serving customers in Treasure Island.”

The email urges customers to email the Board of Supervisors to “oppose” a proposed law to make Breed’s fee cap permanent.

Supervisor Matt Haney is calling Uber’s explanation out as nonsense. Haney, who represents Treasure Island, among other neighborhoods on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, said Uber is engaging in discrimination.

“That’s outrageous. It takes no longer to get to Treasure Island right now than any most other parts of The City. There’s no traffic, so it’s ten minutes from downtown,” Haney told the San Francisco Examiner.

Instead, he views Uber’s announcement as a slap against Breed’s fee cap.

“They are upset about regulation, so in the middle of a pandemic, they are retaliating by punishing and redlining Treasure Island residents who live in a food desert. That’s actually despicable.”

Phone app companies delivering food to Treasure Island is actually a recent development. Shef, Doordash, Uber Eats and Postmates were called out in early April for not delivering to Treasure Island amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an especially pernicious problem because Treasure Island has few restaurants and only one supermarket. It is essentially a “food desert,” locals argue.

Barklee Sanders, a tech worker with Facebook who is a Treasure Island resident, sounded the alarm on the lack of food delivery options to him and his neighbors, many of whom are low-income people living in public housing. Supervisor Haney elevated Sanders’ plight, which was first revealed by the San Francisco Examiner.

Responding to the public complaints, the app companies responded by including Treasure Island in their service areas for the first time days after the complaints emerged.

The retaliation struck Sanders as hollow — he feels Treasure Island residents are being used by Uber.

“They are using us as pawns in their games to be able to charge 30 percent commission for delivery apps during (COVID-19),” Sanders said. “They are saying because of this commission fee change , that serving a small community of 2,500 makes it completely unprofitable for them as a company.”

Uber’s move to cut off Treasure Island from service has been denounced by the San Francisco Labor Council, a group representing union workers across San Francisco, which said on Twitter that “small businesses are getting squeezed” by Uber, which has now “redline [sic] an entire neighborhood — cynical and greedy.”

The labor council said it stands with Mayor Breed and “the small business trying to make it.”

joe@sfexaminer.com

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