The City of Turlock now has 68,549 residents, but not a single taxicab driver.
A split Turlock City Council on Tuesday declined to renew the taxi permit of Duncan Sansom, Sr., formerly the only active, permitted taxi driver in the City of Turlock. Council members Amy Bublak, Bill DeHart and Forrest White voted to deny the permit, while Mayor John Lazar and Councilwoman Mary Jackson opposed the denial.
“It seems kind of silly to put a man out of employment,” Lazar said.
Sansom had served as a Turlock cab driver, working for Yellow Cab, for one year. But during that year, Sansom received two speeding tickets – one in his personal vehicle, shortly after buying a more powerful car, and the other in his taxi on Golden State Boulevard.
Because Sansom received two tickets in the past year, he failed to meet the city’s stringent requirements to hold a Taxi Cab Driver Permit. Per the city ordinance, staff recommended he be denied the permit.
“I’m not a big fan of going against municipal code unless there’s a dire reason,” advised Turlock Police Captain Rob Jackson. “The code is placed there for a reason.”
But Sansom had planned to appeal that Golden State Boulevard ticket, he said, as the ticket came in a tricky area where the speed limit drops from 50 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour, then raises again to 50 miles per hour. After initially appealing the ticket, though, Sansom started working extra hours on the job and said he decided to forego court or traffic school and simply pay the fee, not considering the impact the ticket would have on his permit.
Sansom asked for leniency from the council. He told how the tickets were his first in four years of working for Yellow Cab, and how the cab provided a meaningful service to the community.
“I’m not a member of the community, but I care about it, I worry about it,” Sansom, of Winton, said. “There’s a lot of rural area and people on dialysis, with Alzheimer’s, people without other means than Yellow Cab.”
Sansom and a representative of Yellow Cab both pointed out that Turlock’s cab permit ordinance is more restrictive than those of Stockton, Manteca and Modesto, and that Sansom likely would have been allowed to renew his permit in those cities. Both also questioned why the City Council reviewed cab permits, adding weeks to the application process, when in most cities the process can be completed on a staff level.
Bublak, DeHart and White, however, were not swayed, arguing that the rules were the rules.
“We're the benchmark,” Bublak said. “... Let's make sure we keep our standard and not digress for the sake of getting comfortable.”
While Sansom’s permit was denied, the City Council expects to revisit the cab permitting process within the next 30 to 45 days. At that time, the police department will likely take more responsibility for the permitting process, while the council will only be tapped to consider appeals.
“It’s an ordinance we need to revisit, clearly,” City Manager Roy Wasden said. “Certainly, what we’re doing here is very rigid.”
Whatever the ultimate solution, Mary Jackson asked the city to act quickly to permit another taxi driver.
“I just want to make sure if someone in our community needs a taxi, they're going to get one,” Mary Jackson said.
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