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Council expedites taxi licensing

POSTED September 13, 2011 10:28 p.m.

For more than a month Turlock was a city without a taxicab following a permitting snafu.

On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council took action to ensure city processes wouldn’t hinder future, qualified applicants from earning a taxicab permit in a timely fashion.

“We went back to the drawing board,” said Acting Turlock Police Capt. Ron Reid.

The cab permit snafu traces back to July, when then-Yellow Cab driver Christopher Duncan Sansom Sr. – the only active, permitted cab driver in Turlock at the time – had his permit renewal declined due to two recent speeding tickets, one earned in a personal car. At the Turlock City Council’s last meeting, on Aug. 23, the council unanimously approved the application of Jimmy John Davis, of Turlock, to become a licensed city taxicab driver.

The month-plus delay in permitting a new cab driver was in part caused by the City of Turlock’s onerous permit process, which required all cab permits to receive council approval. As the council meets twice per month, and placing items on council agendas can require weeks of advance notice, the required council review drastically slowed permit issuance.

The new changes, adopted Tuesday by unanimous vote of the Turlock City Council, sans-Mayor John Lazar who left the meeting early to attend a meeting at his child’s school, place permitting approval in the hands of the Turlock police chief. The chief would be able to act quicker to approve permits without waiting for a council meeting, city staff explained.

Appeals of the chief’s decisions would be directed to the city manager, and ultimately the City Council. Additionally, permits will be issued for two years, rather than require the current annual renewal.

The new approach earned plaudits from Yellow Cab representative Marion Jensen, a past critic of Turlock’s permit process.

“We’re very happy,” Jensen said. “Thanks for all the hard work you’ve done.”

But while the new permitting process may be more business friendly, City Manager Roy Wasden warned the audience that expanded taxi service in Turlock will ultimately be up to the businesses.

“We can't order cab companies to come to Turlock,” Wasden said. “... We hope to see more service available, but I'm not certain how that will occur.”

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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