June 21, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Taxicab Kickbacks Outlawed In Santa Monica:

Customers of taxi drivers and hired drivers at local businesses, such as hotels, in Santa Monica may not have known the vehicle they were accessing may have bribed someone for their business.

That will change after the city council’s meeting at Santa Monica City Hall on Sept. 27., as Santa Monica businesses may no longer accept money from hired drivers and allow them preferential access to potential customers in return.

The commonly affected businesses include hotels, night clubs, and restaurants.

A few taxi drivers pleaded with council members at the Sept. 27 meeting to end graft-like conditions at the various establishments they serve in Santa Monica. The taxi drivers alleged doormen, bellhops, or other associate accepted cash from a hired driver in order to gain access to traveling customers ahead of Santa Monica-licensed taxicabs, many of whom apparently awaited those same customers.

“When patrons of a hotel, restaurant, night club, or other business establishment need a taxicab or other vehicle-for-hire, they frequently will request the service through a doorman, bellhop, bartender or other employee of the establishment,” Taxi Franchise Program Coordinator Salvador M. Valles said.

“What the customers do not know is that in some instances the employee of the business is, in effect, selling their trip to the taxicab or other vehicle-for-hire driver in return for monetary compensation. Such practices cause business to go to the companies and drivers that are willing to pay for access to customers, instead of to those that deliver the best service.”

One taxi driver put the situation in simpler terms.

He said many honest taxi drivers, whom are licensed to operate in Santa Monica, are the victims of unfair competition, claiming corruption favoring unlicensed vehicles-for-hire.

“If you don’t pay, you get skipped (for someone who will),” Metro Cab Company driver David Foster told council members. “They (will) call in another company or someone from your company who will pay (money).”

Foster and other taxi drivers outlined a situation where taxicabs are essentially going toe-to-toe with town car-style hired drivers for customers.

At Santa Monica area hotels, for example, taxi drivers customarily line up by the main entrance area to potentially serve guests who seek transportation. When a hotel guest requests a bellhop for taxicab service to the airport, taxi drivers claim the bellhop will pass on them and instead direct the guest to a town car driver. Apparently, the town car drivers are willing to kick back some cash to the bellhops – colloquially referred to as “cookies” – for the privilege to bypass the taxicabs already waiting in front of the hotel.

Foster told council members that, at times, the situation had become rough and taxi drivers had to “run off” the town car drivers, many of whom operate as “de facto taxicabs.” There have been occasions where a taxi driver has waited in a taxi line for as much as an hour for a potential customer, only to be passed up for a town car-style driver who provided a “cookie” to the bellhop or concierge.

“I have every right to be on that property servicing the guests of Santa Monica,” Foster said. “So when the doorman excuses me and gives somebody else a ride because I don’t participate in the crime of giving the bribe, I’m being punished for doing the right thing.

“The people who are doing the wrong thing are being rewarded.”

Taxicabs must be permitted to operate in any given city; the permit allows taxi drivers to wait for customers in taxi lines, be hailed by customers walking on a sidewalk, or be set up by a bellhop or concierge to meet a hotel guest.

De facto taxicabs, or hired town car-style drivers, are not authorized to do any of the above; instead, hired drivers are generally solicited directly from individual customers.

The council hoped by passing the ordinance, regulating the taxicab space in Santa Monica would be a little easier.

“By changing the law in the ways that are recommended here tonight, we’ll be making it illegal on both sides and making this a much easier thing to enforce,” Council member Kevin McKeown said in response to the alleged kickbacks.

Prior to the passage of the ordinance, it was illegal to make the bribe, but not illegal to take the bribe.

Follow The Mirror on Twitter: twitter.com/SMMirror

Follow The Mirror on Facebook: facebook.com/SMMirror

in News
Related Posts

Santa Monica Aligns Mask Orders with LA County

June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

On June 15, Interim City Manager Lane Dilg signed the 37th supplement to align Santa Monica’s local emergency provisions with Los Angeles County...

Former Santa Monica Resident Sentenced to Federal Prison for Embezzling More Than $22 Million from Employer

June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

A former executive at a Hollywood-based digital marketing company that represents influencers on Instagram and YouTube was sentenced recently to...

Edify TV: Tourism Returning to Santa Monica?

June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

A busy Memorial Day weekend in which Santa Monica hotel occupancy rates reached their highest levels since the pandemic began...

Santa Monica College Cancels Fireworks Show, Main Street Parade Also Off

June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

Firework shows in Marina del Rey and Pacific Palisades back this year By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica College (SMC) has...

Summer Safety Tips When Hiking and Biking Outdoors

June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

LAFD Captain Erik Scott gives us tips on staying safe while enjoying the mountains this summer. Brought to you by...

Edify TV: Closing Expo Line Bike Path Gap?

June 15, 2021

June 15, 2021

Plans are in the works to close a frustrating gap in the Expo Line Bike Path. Learn more in this...

Markedly Different Reactions to Sheriff’s Plan to Clear Boardwalk Encampments

June 15, 2021

June 15, 2021

Plan to clear Boardwalk by Fourth of July met with applause, condemnation By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex...

Edify TV: Westside Vandalism Suspect Arrested

June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

A man has been arrested in connection with a series of Westside vandalisms in West L.A., including at a local...

Loved Ones Ashes Stolen From Families Car In Santa Monica: Santa Monica Beat – June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Loved Ones Ashes Stolen From Families Car In Santa Monica *...

LA County Lifeguards Return to Summer Staffing Levels as Heat Wave Rolls Through

June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

Triple digit temperatures expected for inland LA County this week  By Sam Catanzaro As summer heats up, Los Angeles County...

Martin Cadillac Redevelopment Takes Shape on Olympic Near Bundy

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

West Edge development underway near Expo/Bundy station By Sam Catanzaro Wood and concrete framing is now visible at the Martin...

Sheriff Villanueva Announces Plan to Clear Encampments by July 4th

June 10, 2021

June 10, 2021

LASD Homeless Outreach Services Team visits Venice Boardwalk Tuesday By Sam Catanzaro Deputies were on the Venice Beach Boardwalk Tuesday...