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Spokane City Council approves fee cap for third-party food delivery companies

Rebecca White/SPR

The Spokane City Council has voted to require food delivery companies, such as Door Dash, Uber Eats and Grub Hub, to offer a 15 percent option to customers in Spokane.

The proposal was widely supported by restaurant owners, but opposed by business leaders and delivery companies.

Zack Zappone, the sponsor of the proposal, said the city should be doing what it can to protect local businesses. He, and Spokane City Council president Breean Beggs, argued delivery apps are publicly traded companies, that have resources and bargaining power that local restaurants don’t.

“For many of those restaurants, they're losing dollars on every purchase that they're doing,” he said. “These fees could be upwards of 30% of a commission. I think a lot of people don't even realize that when they order from these third-party delivery companies, part of their order is costing these businesses money.”

Spokane City Councilman Michael Cathcart, who voted against the proposal, argued delivery companies may stop operating in Spokane, or just pass the fees onto customers instead of restaurants.

“I think in the end, it could have some very big unintended consequences for the very folks who are advocating for it today,” he said. “Ultimately I don't know that its fully constitutional in the end to apply price controls to a private industry.”

Door Dash, one of the delivery companies operating in Spokane, also opposes the proposal. In a statement last week, the company called the proposal unnecessary and said it may have damaging unintended consequences.

Several other cities have regulated, or sued third-party delivery companies over fears they may be damaging the local restaurant scene, including Chicago, San Francisco and New York.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.