By Lookout Staff
March 2 – The City Council Tuesday night is expected to bar new taxicabs from operating in Santa Monica while City officials grapple with ways to regulate a system many say is out of control.
The proposed emergency moratorium would prohibit issuing taxicab licenses or permits for new drivers in the popular beachfront city, which currently has 454 taxicabs and 516 permitted taxicab drivers, more per capita than anywhere else in LA, officials said.
What’s more, the cab rates are erratic, the drivers are poorly paid and often nasty and their cars and vans are polluting and clogging the city’s streets, officials said.
“Under current local law, taxicab operations are regulated based on an open-entry system, through which there is no limit on the number of taxicabs that may be authorized to operate within the City,” the City Attoney’s office wrote in a staff report to the council.
“This system has consequently resulted in an over-concentration of taxicabs in the city, particularly in downtown Santa Monica,” officials wrote. “Not only has this situation exacerbated traffic problems in combination with limited street parking, but it also degrades air quality and the natural environment.”
A number of different parties have complained about the excessive number of taxicabs operating in Santa Monica, including the business licensing division, the Police Department, taxicab drivers and business leaders.
Among the possible fixes proposed by staff -- limit the number of companies and impose rules that lay out requirements for operating as a taxicab company, set a maximum fare or one specific fare structure and set strict standards for appearance and safety.
Other possible solutions include setting dispatching requirements that avoid
drivers having to rely on walk-up business and requiring drivers to take training and pass tests.
The City also could require vehicles to meet air quality or fuel efficiency standards, according to the report.