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Taxi feud continues, prompts study

Review of permit process aims to determine whether all companies are getting a fair shake at business.

October 11, 2010|By Melanie Hicken, melanie.hicken@latimes.com

GLENDALE — The ongoing rift at City Hall between rival taxi companies has prompted city officials to initiate an independent study of the current permitting process.

During City Council hearings on a series of permit-related appeals, rival companies have alleged the city's current operators have a monopoly on taxi operations. The current operators counter that additional competition would hurt their ability to do business.

"On the one hand, we are told there is a lack of competition. On the other hand, we are told there is limited need and taxi drivers are all independent contractors," said Councilman John Drayman. "There is so much confusing commentary floating around."

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City officials are initiating an independent study of the current permitting process and operators in an attempt to answer some of the lingering questions surrounding the recent taxi wars. An agreement with transportation consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard is being finalized.

Regulations allow any taxi to drop off customers in Glendale, but only those with one of 81 city-issued permits can make pick-ups. Permits are capped at 82 and are renewed on a five-year basis.

Jano Baghdanian, the city's traffic and transportation administrator, told the Transportation & Parking Commission that the study would help city officials determine whether the current process is the most effective.

"About 10 years ago, that was the right thing to do. We had issues. We addressed them at that time. We felt that was the way to go," he said. "Now things have changed, and again as one of those issues after so many years, you revisit them."

The study comes after members of the Transportation & Parking Commission advocated for revisiting the current permitting process — a move that received City Council support this summer.

Several commissioners said the permit renewal process hurts their ability to require service improvements, such as environmentally-friendly vehicles.

"It keeps the commission locked in a box," Chairman Christopher Welch said in June.

Last week, commissioners said they were glad to see the review of the process moving forward.

"We are sort of taking a high-level look at the policy for how exactly we apportion and assign the taxi licensing," said Commissioner Bill Weisman. "So I am very happy to see this and the results from it."

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