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Austin has long since been perceived as a town of creative innovators. Given the City’s recent regulatory attempts with the sharing and gig economy (Uber, AirBnB, Scooters), what is your position on how the City should handle emerging technologies and emerging markets? What is your view, generally, on the conflict between consumer demands and government interests? Similarly, when non-profits secure grant funding for innovative social solutions that requires a local match, what is your view on city funding being available for the match?

Mariana Salazar

City Council, District 1

I think part of what makes Austin unique is our entrepreneurial culture. I think we should embrace emerging technologies taking into consideration their social benefit vs. the cost they impose on our cities, residents and workers who participate in the gig economy. In general I support having a fair and practical regulatory environment. Let’s take for instance the case of Scooters. Dockless mobility can serve to eliminate short trips under a few miles and can significantly help to solve the first/last mile issue with public transportation, but we need to regulate it to address accessibility, littering and safety concerns. Should they riders ride on the road or sidewalks? I look forward to hearing the feedback the City recently collected from residents to come up with updated dockless mobility regulations in the fall. I will use such feedback to inform my understanding moving forward. In the case of short-term rentals, there are many other topics surrounding it, but one direction I would encourage for us to go, is for the city to collect Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) payment directly from short-term rental companies like Airbnb and HomeAway, rather than from short-term rental property owners to make sure we collect all the taxes associated with operating a short-term rentals. I think it’s a good idea for City funding to serve as local match when appropriate, but such match must align with the overall strategic direction that council has set and the investments must result in outcomes the city has identified as desirable.