Santa Monica’s City Council voted on December 14 to increase the number of taxicabs permitted in Santa Monica from 250 to 300 for the five taxicab franchises they approved on November 9, 2010. Thirteen additional cabs were allocated to the Santa Monica based Metro Cab Company and Taxi Taxi while eight additional cabs were approved for the Bell Cab Company, Independent Taxi Owners Association and the Yellow Cab Company.
City staff had recommended splitting the fifty taxicab increase equally between the five franchises. However, individual Council members suggested different amounts than what was finally agreed upon. Mayor Bloom stated, “Every company is operating under a different model. We haven’t learned enough to judge the economic effect of juggling these numbers will be. There is some merit in treating the locally [based] franchises a little differently.” His motion was the one the Council ultimately agreed upon.
Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis was the only “no” vote on the increase. She was disappointed the Council was not “able to award an actual increase in taxicabs to” Taxi, Taxi.” She was concerned that the growth in revenues would favor all of the companies except Taxi Taxi who would now have to cut back their number of cabs from 65 to 63.
Council member Bobby Shriver disagreed with Davis by pointing out that because franchising limits competition the profitability of every cab will be “greater now that we’ve eliminated two-thirds of their competition.” Looking at the number taxicabs on the street is not the same as looking at profitability.
Prior to the vote, the Council heard from representatives from the taxi franchises. Taxi, Taxi’s Wendy Radwin pointed out that this was the “first time in the city’s history that an entire industry has been regulated.” She argued that Taxi Taxi was smaller than the other cab companies so they needed to be allocated a larger number of cabs.
The city’s traffic consultant NelsonNygaard found that an increase of taxicabs from 250 to 300 was needed because of the number of large events the city hosts such as GLOW and the Los Angeles Marathon. The city staff report states that the 50 cab increase will generate an additional $25,000 in revenue for the city.