City Council to vote on taxi permits

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A controversial proposal to eliminate a cap on the number of taxi permits issued in San Diego is scheduled to be taken up by the City Council Monday.

The meeting has been moved from the Council Chamber to Golden Hall and given a 1 p.m. starting time to accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd.

The idea has garnered either robust support or strong opposition from drivers and owners at previous hearings at the committee level, with discussions on the topic generating several hours of public testimony.

Since the current lid of 993 permits creates a limited supply, they’re being resold in an underground market, Councilwoman Marti Emerald said in August.

She said the permits, administered for the city by the Metropolitan Transit System and issued for a $3,000 fee, are fetching more than $100,000 in some cases, and buyers pass on costs to drivers, who have to work long hours at low pay as a result.

Opponents say allowing more taxis on the street would lead to less income for taxi companies already buffeted by competition from new, technology-based services like Lyft and Uber, meaning drivers would make even less money.

Taxi permit-holders complain that their new competitors don’t face the same regulations they do, though a state law set to take effect next summer will require the ride-sharing services to have insurance coverage and be overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission.

The number of permits issued on behalf of the city is arrived at through a formula based on the number of vehicle trips it would take to meet demand.

The proposal the council will consider would get rid of the cap, limit the age of taxicabs to 10 years and prohibit the use of vehicles with salvage titles as taxis.

Councilmen David Alvarez and Scott Sherman have also proposed that a requirement that a prospective permittee have five years of driving or management experience be reduced to six months — in part because of the Lyft and Uber competition. Their proposal also calls for clarifying language regarding citizenship and legal U.S. residency.

The City Council will take Tuesday off to observe Veterans Day.

Categories: KUSI