The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday took two actions affecting businesses, voting for maintaining the status quo on taxi franchises and to draft a ballot measure to ban big contractors from making political contributions.
The council sided with the taxi industry and voted to extend the city’s nine cab franchises for five years, brushing aside opposition from unions and some cab drivers.
The council also voted to order City Attorney Carmen Trutanich to craft a measure to put before voters next March that would ban companies bidding on city contracts worth at least $100,000 a year from making political contributions to city campaigns. The council faces a Nov. 3 deadline to place measures on the March ballot.
In agreeing to roll over the taxicab franchises, the city won commitments from the taxicab companies to convert 80 percent of their fleets to “green” vehicles – gas-electric hybrids or cars using other alternative fuels – within the five-year contract period.
The franchises are worth $180 million in annual fare revenue from the 2,303 licensed taxis operating in the city. About 3,500 drivers make 7 million trips with their taxis each year. The city’s take is about $4.5 million a year in franchise fees and related charges.
The Los Angeles Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents some of the taxi drivers, opposed the five-year extensions. They wanted a renewal of only one year to 18 months and a study of working conditions in the industry. They enlisted the aid of several union organizations, which in turn led to concerns among the taxicab companies that the real goal of the alliance was to unionize taxi drivers.
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