There are several stories popping up this morning about citizen arrests by officials at San Francisco International Airport against rideshare drivers doing business with companies like Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar.
This is the same airport that has sued FlightCar, a peer-to-peer car sharing service that offers discounted parking rates if you’re willing to let them rent your car out to arriving travelers while you’re gone. (Apparently that hasn’t stopped competitor RelayRides from setting up shop to do essentially the same thing.)
SFO is making similar claims about lack of insurance, failure to pay facility fees, as well as the threat of unlicensed drivers. But the “citizen arrest” that keeps being mentioned doesn’t seem to be an arrest at all. Instead, airport police are looking for “tells” like that big pink mustache on Lyft cars or people exchanging money before departing the airport. At that point they stop the car and bring over another official to write a citation for a trespassing misdemeanor.
I suppose that qualifies as a citizen arrest if these are actions not taken by a law enforcement officer, but why the airport police would be responsible for identifying offenders and then finding someone else to write the citation mystifies me. That’s worse than being a rent-a-cop. That’s being a rent-a-tattle-tale. And offenders don’t get thrown in jail. Apparently the citation itself is the “arrest.”
If you plan to visit San Francisco in the near future, I suggest you steer clear of these services, or at least keep it more discrete when you negotiate compensation.