City Council votes to delay taxi meeting

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The Berkeley City Council voted to postpone action on the grievances of the Berkeley Taxicab Association at the council's Tuesday meeting, opting to move discussion to a later meeting in order to allow time for a meeting between city officials and members of the association.

The association - comprised of about 12 Berkeley taxi drivers - sent a letter Oct. 4 to City Manager Phil Kamlarz which listed 13 grievances and requested a meeting with city officials.

Since that time, the association has been frustrated with the length of time it has taken the city to begin addressing its grievances.

After Councilmember Kriss Worthington submitted a request to the city manager's office for a formal response to the association's grievances, the issue was presented at the council's meeting on Tuesday. The council delayed action on the grievances until its May 31 meeting in order to allow time for the association to meet with the city manager.

"The gasoline prices are affecting our business very, very badly," said Said Ali, chairman of the association, at the meeting. "It's high - almost $5 a gallon."

But Ali said rising gas prices are just one of a number of growing concerns local taxi drivers want to see addressed by the city. Other issues include the problem of illegal taxis, which take business away from permitted taxi drivers.

"They are everywhere," said Sanjay Sharma, vice president of the association. "Every corner, they are there taking up our fare. Nothing has been done in this regard so far. There is no check, there is no control ... The taxis come from as far as Fairfield and Sacramento."

Sharma added that these drivers take away nearly 35 percent of business from permitted drivers in Berkeley.

About a dozen taxi drivers were present at the meeting, standing with signs stating facts about the hardships of taxi driving in Berkeley - one sign reading "Stop Illegal Cab Drivers" - while Ali and others from the association spoke to the council members.

"We look forward to you guys meeting with the manager and coming back to us - hopefully with a solution," said Mayor Tom Bates at the meeting.


Contact Adelyn Baxter at [email protected]

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