City Attorney Files Lawsuit Against Turo, Alleges Permit Violations at SFO

San Francisco International Airport sees about 53 million travelers every year. Photo via GPS/Flickr
San Francisco International Airport sees about 53 million travelers every year. Photo via GPS/Flickr

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit against peer-to-peer rental company Turo for operating at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) without proper permits.

Turo relinquished its airport permit effective Aug. 10, 2017, and represented that it would cease operations at the city-owned airport. However, since then, Turo has continued to operate at SFO without the requisite permits despite repeated warnings from city officials, according to a press statement from the San Francisco City Attorney's office.

SFO’s permit system helps control traffic congestion, enhances safety for travelers, and maintains airport facilities, the statement says.

As a condition of its permits, SFO requires all rental car companies to pick up or drop off customers at the Rental Car Center. Customers can travel from the terminals to the Rental Car Center via the AirTrain — a free light-rail system that connects SFO’s terminals, parking garages, Rental Car Center, and BART station.

There are two types of rental car companies that operate at SFO, “on-airport” rental car companies that lease physical space at SFO’s Rental Car Center through a competitive bidding process, and “off-airport” rental car companies, that maintain headquarters outside SFO property but target SFO travelers and use airport roadways to collect and drop off their customers.

Just like “on-airport” rental car companies, “off-airport” rental car companies must pick up their customers at the Rental Car Center instead of the terminal curbside.

Both “on-airport” and “off-airport” rental car companies are required to pay an “AirTrain fee” of $18 per rental contract, which is passed through to customers, as well as 10 percent of gross receipts above a certain threshold for SFO rental car transactions. “On-airport” rental car companies additionally pay rent to SFO to occupy space at the Rental Car Center.

The City is seeking a court order prohibiting Turo from engaging in rental car transactions at SFO; making reference to SFO on its website, mobile application, or other promotional materials; and encouraging or facilitating SFO transactions in any other manner until Turo fully complies with SFO’s permit and fee requirements. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation, reimbursement for costs from the lawsuit, and other relief.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the People of the State of California under California Business and Professions Code section 17200.

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