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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Protests Expected On San Diego City Council Taxi Permit Plan

The San Diego City Council is moving Monday's meeting to Golden Hall to accommodate a large crowd expected for a proposal to eliminate a cap on the number of taxi permits issued by the city.

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 drawing 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 unregulated social media-based companies like Lyft and Uber, meaning the drivers would make even less money.

The number of permits issued on behalf of the city is derived 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.

Monday's meeting is set to begin at 1 p.m. The City Council will take Tuesday off to observe Veterans Day.

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