Council may OK new cab rules

OCEANSIDE — City Council is on the brink of adopting new business license rules for cab companies. 

A new license fee schedule was unanimously OK’d on Wednesday. Next to return to council are revised rules for companies to gain a license.

To be included in the new set of rules are requirements to have a minimum of 10 cabs in the fleet, dispatch cabs through a computerized radio system, have GPS that alerts the nearest cab driver in the fleet to a customer call, accept credit card payments, and limit vehicle age to seven years.

Anthony Palmeri, owner of Yellow Cab, spoke at the podium several times to voice his support for the changes and to answer City Council questions about the industry.

He said the requirement for companies to have a larger fleet, coupled with the provision that allows companies to permit independent cab drivers to buy into the fleet, is beneficial.

“It will benefit the city,” Palmeri said. “Drivers can be owners. They can buy a piece of Yellow Cab and be part of the infrastructure.”

An owner and driver of a small cab company opposed the new regulations that would squeeze smaller cab companies like hers out of the picture. She said she has six cabs in her fleet and drivers are dispatched by cell phone.

“There’s a need for our service here,” the cab company owner said.

Currently there are two licensed cab companies in Oceanside. Yellow Cab operates 47 cabs and 24-7 Taxi Cab has 17 cabs in operation.

Council members said the new rules would bring in quality companies that would provide reliable service to seniors and tourists.

They added that the new computer dispatch requirement would stop cabs from lining up in front of high customer areas like hotels and the transit center.

“I don’t want more cabs than we can count,” Mayor Jim Wood said. “I don’t want to have a fleet of cabs parked in a line up in front of a busy spot.”

Other suggestions that were discussed, but will not be part of the new requirements, were for cabs to run on alternative fuel, and 10 percent of cabs in fleets to be ADA compliant.

Rules were last updated in the early 1980s. Michael Sherwood, chief information officer, said the current updates were made to simplify the licensing process, allow different structures for company organization and improve customer safety and service.

The new rules will be brought back to council for a final OK Aug. 29.

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