RP council OKs extension of taxi cab moratorium
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By Mira Brody  July 25, 2014 12:00 am

At the July 22 Rohnert Park City Council meeting, council members voted to extend a temporary memorandum concerning taxicab driver permits. Current regulations were adopted in 1964 and have been a concern with the increased use of taxi drivers because of the Graton Resort & Casino.  The city decided those regulations should be reconsidered.

The report, given by Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety Chief Brian Masterson, requested a six-month delay. He claimed staffing resources were not ideal to enforce the intended municipal code as it stands. An ordinance was established in July 2013 to place a moratorium on what the city deemed “negative businesses.” Included in the moratorium were taxi cabs companies or drivers, adult entertainment clubs, check-cashing services, pawn shops, cyber cafes and electronic messages such as flashing billboards.

Staff hopes to complete the reviewing process before the additional six months.

They hope to eventually adopt a model like that of Santa Rosa, which Masterson called “economically feasible,” and “best suited to meet our needs.”

In the Santa Rosa three-tired system, vehicle for hire companies are required to get a franchise agreement, a vehicle permit for each vehicle under that franchise and each driver has to be equipped with a driver’s permit. Every vehicle and driver permit must be updated annually.

“We have four taxi cab companies working out of Rohnert Park, which essentially means they can pick up and drop off in the city,” explains Masterson. “We have lots of other taxi cab companies in the Bay Areas, though, and what we want them to do is be permitted by Rohnert Park Public Safety.”

Masterson notes that there have been more companies expressing interest to do business in Rohnert Park since the opening of the Casino. The argument is that vehicle for hire companies propose a potentially hazardous situation for residents, and that permitting such drivers under stricter regulations will eliminate such dangers.

“I think it is good to delay this,” said councilwoman Pam Stafford. “I know it’s actually more complicated then it seems because we’ve had a pretty lax policy as it was. We need to do this more carefully.”

The moratorium passed by a 4-0 vote (Councilman Jake Mackenzie was absent). Efforts will be paid for by the Casino Mitigation Fund.

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