Taxi Advisory Council > July 9, 2012, Minutes
Notice and Agenda
MUNICIPAL TRANSPORTATION AGENCY
TAXI ADVISORY COUNCIL
NOTICE OF MEETING AND CALENDAR
Monday, July 9, 2012
2nd Floor Room
One South Van Ness Avenue
Ruach Graffis; John Han; Dan Hinds; Tara Housman; Richard Hybels; David Khan; Barry Korengold; Timothy Lapp; John Lazar; Tone Lee; Carl Macmurdo; William Mounsey; Athan Rebelos; Chris Sweis
PRESENT: Ruach Graffis; Dan Hinds; Tara Housman; Barry Korengold; Timothy Lapp; John Lazar; Tone Lee; Carl Macmurdo; William Mounsey; Athan Rebelos;
ABSENT: John Han; Richard Hybels; David Khan; Chris Sweis
STAFF IN ATTENDANCE: Michael Harris, Scott Leon
1. Call to order: Barry Korengold called the meeting to order at 1:19 p.m.
2. Roll Call – The Roll Call showed a quorum was present.
3. Announcement of prohibition of sound producing devices during the
4. Approval of Minutes from 6/11/12 (Discussion and Action)
Ms. Housman motioned to approve, seconded by Mr. Korengold.
Minutes are approved.
No public comment.
5. Public Comment
No public comment
6. General Discussion regarding Taxi Industry (Discussion only)
Mr. Lazar said nothing that was voted on has moved forward after 2 years of TAC meetings. He needs clarification from staff. He feels it’s been a waste of time and questions himself if he should still be a representative in this council.
Mr. Hinds said that this comment should be reserved as an item for discussion for Future of TAC.
Mr. Lazar would like a list of things that got voted on and the status of each.
Mr. Rebelos comments on Ms. Hayashi’s promotion: He is disappointed on her taking taking a leave of absence in the middle of a massive upheaval of the industry. He feels she’s been absent with regards to Uber and enforcement and questions her leadership.
Mr. Hinds needs clarification on TAC structure and how the industry is going to be overseen. He would like to be informed on Chris Hayashi’s status and be kept abreast with what’s happening. He agrees with Mr. Rebelos comments. He feels that we’re operating in the dark.
Mr. Leon said Ms. Hayashi is taking time off and she is expected to come back.
Mr. Macmurdo said the website link to regulations has been taken out and does not help if there’s a need to get this information.
Mr. Mounsey sees the importance of keeping a voice in the industry.
Mr. Korengold said despite disagreements with Ms. Hayashi, he’s seen how she’s worked very hard the last 2-3 years. He reasons Ms. Hayashi’s leave from office. He said she’s done a better than average job, better than anybody else who’s handled the industry.
Mr. Rebelos said he respects what has been done but there’s a lot that hasn’t been done. He states the industry is in a state of turmoil. Nobody knows what’s going on, what rules change, there’s lack of communication, Single-Operator Permit rules change by the day and enforcement hasn’t been full-sail across the industry. Granted Ms. Hayashi’s effort, he says this is a big misstep.
Mr. Korengold said the reason why Ms. Hayashi hasn’t been effective is because she hasn’t been allowed to do what she thinks is right. She has to get permission and approval from Sonali Bose or Deborah Johnson who doesn’t know anything about the taxi industry. He said it’s not fair to judge or blame Chris for the state the industry’s in.
Mr. Lapp said SFMTA and Ms. Hayashi did not meet fiduciary responsibilities and have not met expectations. He stressed that in absence, responsibilities should be transferred to somebody who has enough knowledge of the industry and make sure it’s being led by responsible authorities.
Mr. Korengold said Mr. Murray and Mr. Harris are there to take care of business.
Mr. Mounsey asked where Mr. Harris is and said it is irresponsible that a council member is not around. He stressed the importance of what’s being discussed and questions why a representative of Taxi Services is not present.
Tone Lee mentioned how Japanese policy was before: see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil. He said that SOP needs reform and should only be allowed 60 hours.
Naim Malik said some people who showed interest with SOP are not in the waiting list and people didn’t received SOP letters. He also said it’s being granted to non-qualified drivers and questions this.
Mr. Rathbone in follow-up to Mr. Malik’s comment said this program is bringing hope to people. Despite not being a full-time permit, it is something and it creates balance.
Mr. Vitcha mentioned how the industry is challenged with the existence of smart phone apps. He wonders if SFMTA is waiting for the result of the study that’s being done.
7. Report of the Council Liaison (Discussion only)
a. Staff Update
Mr. Reiskin moved the operating hours for SOP to 90 hours per week from 70 hours but all terms and conditions remains the same. This will be revisited after 6 months to see how it is working. This permit has no airport restrictions. This permit can be run as a spare up to 30-days. A Notice will be sent through email regarding this.
Mr. Harris said full-time driving requirement is applicable (4/5 years). Applicants are also required to sign a document saying they will voluntarily surrender their permit if they have not fulfilled the full-time driving requirement.
Dan Hara and Associates final report will be released in October.
Mr. Harris updates on the continuation of TAC. Mr. Reiskin expressed that TAC will have to decide on how it should be continued and he is willing to work with the council. He reminded that TAC is an advisory body where recommendations are based from. He suggests that TAC reports to the board on a quarterly basis.
Ms. Housman thinks it’s unjust and unnecessary to have a full-time driving requirement for the SOP. She urges that this be reconsidered.
Mr. Lapp asked if it’s permissible to lease out the other shifts of the SOP. He said that Ms. Hayashi said no but would like clarification on this.
Mr. Harris said if the permit holder cannot fulfill the shifts, the color scheme can fill those shifts from drivers from their roster with the agreement of the permit holder. Affiliates have restrictions on who can operate the car.
Mr. Lapp asked about penalties if found running as an affiliate or color scheme; drives more than 90 hours. Do they voluntarily surrender the permit without going to a revocation process if their waybills do not meet the criteria?
Mr. Harris said there’s nothing specific he had permit holder sign that says that if it exceeds the hours, you have to voluntarily surrender the permit but this is subject to all rules and regulations of the transportation code; this permit is restricted to 90 hours. If permit holder starts exceeding the hours, the permit holder is responsible for the violation. There’re steps to the process and there would be a revocation of permit.
John Lazar asked if there’s a cap on SOP. He asked about enforcement. He said it opens doors for fraud for some apps which doesn’t have a logon/logoff capability. He discussed a lot of possible problems that may be encountered with this permit.
Mr. Harris said the board has authorized 50 SOP’s at this time. He sees the potential problem if there’s sharing of logon/logoff information. The program will be evaluated in 6 months and to reform it may be necessary to conform with its’ needs.
Mr. Macmurdo asked if list is based on seniority. He asked if Prop K people who sold their medallions are allowed to purchase SOP. He asked about the link in the website regarding transportation code regulations.
Mr. Harris said yes for SOP. He said that they will be screened out because they’re unable to drive. Mr. Harris said the website is under construction but it’s getting fixed.
Mr. Hinds asked if the name can be changed from Single Operator to Senior Operator Permit.
Mr. Harris said, maybe Special Operator Permit.
Mr. Lee discussed the Special Operator Permit could pose unfair competition in the street. He mentioned there’s another illegal unknown operator in the street competing with the industry.
Mr. Mounsey said Single-Operator cabs are becoming regular cabs. He asked about Ms. Hayashi’s status.
Mr. Harris said Ms. Hayashi is on leave and will be back September 24.
Mr. Rebelos concerned about SOP rules. He mentioned that GTU has no appointments and his cars are waiting in the yard.
Mr. Harris said to maybe expand the time to get them on the street.
Mr. Lapp discussed how people who would like to drive the peak shifts and how it would be a win/win situation for everybody.
Mr. Macmurdo asked about the amendment of 60-hours to 90-hours on the SOP.
Mr. Korengold said it shouldn’t be called Single-Operator Permit but Single-Operator Corporate Medallions since its allowing companies to have their security permits that they can lease out under the control of the driver. He discussed the hours of operation and if considering it to be operating at 90-hours/month, it has morphed into more than ½ time medallion. He has a problem with the 90-hours since he thinks it’s too much. He also agrees with Tara; it doesn’t seem fair to have a 4/5 driving requirement. He thinks if you’re over 65, you shouldn’t have a driving requirement. He followed-up on Tim Lapp’s statement and asked if permit gets revoked if it exceeds the hours.
Mr. Lee discussed issues with Single-Operator Permit. He said granting 90- hours to SOP is full-time work shift and not much of a pension medallion. There’s a big difference between 60-hours and 90-hours.
Mr. Korengold is confused if these medallions are sold and if SFMTA is charging a fee.
Mr. Harris said no, medallions are not sold but charging permit fee.
Mr. Gruberg comments the decision made to change the hours from 60 to 90 should’ve been made through a public process. He has the same objections on the change of hours.
Mr. Harris said there was a push to increase it 90-hours from the Town Hall meeting and was considered the correct number.
Charles Rathbone comments on SOP and driving on peak-hours.
Mr. Toronto states that 90-hours is close to full time. It is disturbing to him and it defeats the purpose of having a Single-Operator Permit. He was asking where he could get access to the list since its public record information. He is curious how people get invited to this and gets in the list.
Mr. Malik said he waited 10 years to put his name on the list and if he put his name at the right time, he would’ve gotten his medallion years ago. He said SOP should be limited to 60 hours and should be given to A-Card seniority. He said this system only favors the cab companies. It is unfair and unjust.
Public comment closed.
b. Regulatory Reform Update
1. Board of Appeals – Michael Harris updated
2. 310/Clean-Up Legislation
3. CS Standard – Scott Leon takes feedback
c. Taxi Medallion Sales Pilot Program Update
No medallion transfers in June.
Ms. Housman comments on Board of Appeals -- she said the independent hearing officer is not truly independent since it has a vested interest with SFMTA and not sympathetic to the appellant. She feels that a layer of rights shouldn’t be taken away from drivers. If Board of Appeals is taken away, also means that the driver has to get a lawyer which can be very expensive. Board of Appeals is being paid through A-Cards; the industry is paying for this level of government and government is already set-up.
Mr. Rebelos comments on Color Scheme standard. He thinks cab companies should be staffed 24/7.
Mr. Macmurdo asked if the proposal to remove the Board of Appeals from the process. He asks if this has to go through MTA board before Supervisor’s Committee. He comments on color scheme standard is designed for a specific purpose to levee some fines or put color scheme on suspension for not meeting requirement.
Mr. Lapp follows-up on Mr. Rebelos comments. He said there should be 2 distinctive criteria on normal business hours. He is curious how much cost is in appealing in the Superior Court.
Tone Lee said we have to build the system because we cannot afford to lose trust with the agency.
Ms. Graffis is not in agreement in the continuation of the Board of Appeals. She said that Board of Appeals is staffed with political appointees. She said people kept their permits when everybody in the industry knew these people were not driving and that seems to work better than Board of Appeals. Regarding staffing, she said there is no need to have somebody in the office all-day and all-night since there is a dispatch service.
Mr. Korengold said 24-hour staffing may be for DeSoto, Yellow, Luxor. Smaller companies have a dispatch service and don’t see a need for somebody to be in the office.
Mr. Harris asked Mr. Rebelos what kind of staff should be there 24/7.
Mr. Rebelos said management should be there. He said dispatch does not have control over the drivers and there should be somebody in charge at all times.
Mr. Lapp said it’s not feasible to have management in the premises the whole time. Maybe designate a manager to be contacted by the dispatch if needed.
Mr. Korengold said it makes sense to have an on-call person than having someone at the office. He agrees the hearing officers are not impartial because they’re working for the MTA and the department also competes with the medallion income. He feels that MTA shouldn’t have a financial interest on this but should only be interested in regulating the industry.
Ms. Housman suggests someone should receive fax transmittals sent to SFMTA on weekends or night shift so crime bulletin gets out in a timely fashion.
Mr. Rebelos said maybe a model like the Police Department which has a watch command on every shift.
Mr. Korengold said maybe it’s the responsibility of the dispatch service.
Mr. Vitcha said Yellow has a procedure where you can always call someone.
Mr. Gruberg expressed his frustration on the TAC meetings because of discussions that are not on the agenda.
Mr. Gruberg said in August, there would be a status report made to the MTA board regarding Board of Appeals and he heard from previous hearing there would be a decision making process whether or not Board of Appeals should be retained. He is in favor of keeping Board of Appeals. He disagrees with some decision but he thinks this is a protection for everybody. He said without Board of Appeals, there would be endless litigation.
Mr. Toronto concurs with Tara’s statement regarding Board of Appeals except due process. He expressed the hearing officers earn a lot of money and some do a good job but some don’t. He thinks the color scheme’s dispatch service has to have off-hours contact number and driver should know who to call in an emergency.
Mr. Malik concurs with Tara and Barry Toronto’s statements regarding Board of Appeals. He said there should be a 24/7 manager at the cab company. He said even established cab companies don’t have managers 24/7 and dispatcher and cashier becomes the manager. If this gets enforced, they’re going to hire someone and pay the minimum wage and have drivers pay the tips. He pleas not to do this.
Charles Rathbone comments that Board of Appeals should be maintained.
Public comment closed.
8. Future of TAC (Discussion and Action)
Mr. Korengold said it’s a valuable thing to continue and discussed its’ advantages: It’s a place for taxi issues to get vetted within the Taxi Industry by people who are experienced; it gives drivers a seat at the table – benefits the drivers who get access to officials; it’s a recorded record and you see where management is coming from and hear concerns from drivers.
Mr. Hinds said TAC is where the industry body is represented and opinions and recommendations are heard. But in his experience, recommendations never got to the MTA board or were not considered. There were no regular reports and were not sure if it ever got to the board. His concern is they’re representing themselves as an industry body but MTA has treated the council with contempt or indifference. If the council is going to continue there are things that they expect: to have Regular reports; to have council make recommendations and board have the opportunity to consider the industry’s opinion before decisions. He said they have major issues they haven’t seen.
Mr. Korengold suggests that companies don’t charge gate fees if you’re a council member attending TAC meetings. He agrees that changes need to be made but it has to keep going.
Mr. Mounsey concurs with Dan Hinds and said that he believes in the same thing.
Mr. Lee said MTA only choses what benefits them. He thinks it’s not that important to have this body.
Mr. Lapp said there’s value to this council even without the representation of the MTA board since all parties of the industry are sounding board for Taxi Services. He said a monthly meeting and another venue for drivers to voice their concerns can be justified. He said TAC is weighted more towards the drivers and it’s not a fair representation of the industry. He stresses a 6/5 vote would show a unified opinion; a super-majority before a recommendation is given.
Ms. Housman is in favor continuing TAC and agrees with Dan Hinds statement. She suggests 2 meetings a month. She said it would be nice if Ed Reiskin gives a fast pass for council members to use for these meetings.
Mr. Rebelos said the council doesn’t even follow their own vote and is not a single voice. They’re only an advisory council and basically an unrequested advice. He said there should only be quarterly meetings. He suggests to council members who has to pay their fees to attend this meeting to check their driver’s association to cover cost.
Ms. Graffis in response to Athen’s comment said minority opinion is useful. She said council does not have to speak a single voice and they come-up with a single vote. She thinks super-majority is not a good idea. She said it’s harder to fight to be heard if the council does not exist. She favors continuing TAC twice a month.
Mr. Korengold suggests including minority opinion when reports are given to the board. We don’t need to be unanimous. He said one of the benefits TAC has is having representatives from different parts of the industry get to talk and hear each other and also having Taxi Services hear what the industry has to say.
Mr. Lee said his goal as a council member is to look after the industry’s best interest. He votes yes in the continuation of TAC.
Mr. Macmurdo said it’s important to have an update once a month. He suggests having a quarterly report and the chairman has the responsibility to make that happen.
Ms. Housman said that TAC acts like a steam valve where they can voice opinions and maybe get an answer in an organized fashion.
Mr. Korengold would like to make a motion to do a revote on TAC’s continuation after further discussion amongst members. He said quarterly reports are also good and suggests to also provide other reports that need to get addressed.
Mr. Hinds, Mr. Harris and Mr. Korengold discussed the legality of re-voting on the same issue.
Mr. Korengold said if it’s proposed by the majority of the council then it’s okay.
Mr. Hinds voted reluctantly to discontinue the TAC the last meeting and would make the same vote again unless there’re some specific requirements or conditions put on TAC meeting. Taxi Services should be soliciting the opinion of the council on any taxi industry issues. He requests council members get compensated for coming to these meetings. He proposed quarterly meetings, monthly meetings and quarterly reports.
Ms. Housman urges the SFMTA to continue the TAC.
Mr. Hinds seconds the motion.
Mr. Vitcha supports the continuance of TAC.
Mr. Malik said TAC should continue once a month. He said he loses income and spends for travel when he comes to these meetings. He said drivers should be compensated when they come to these meetings and not the managers, company owners, etc. He said drivers should be encouraged to attend these meetings to gain knowledge about the industry.
Mr. Toronto said legally, you can’t vote yourself out of the board. He said TAC meeting once a month is sufficient. He said it’s important to have a dialogue between members of the industry and staff. He comments the website is not updated. He’s asking for monthly or at least quarterly presentation to the board. He thinks some of the Agenda’s issues should be voted rather than just a report. He said the Town Hall Meetings are not notified very well.
Public comment closed.
The council voted: We urge MTA to continue the TAC and expand its ____ to all Taxi issues and that we meet once a month and we report to the SFMTA board quarterly and as necessary.
7 in favor 1 opposed.
9. Council Members request for information
Mr. Lapp asks about UBER and what have been done the last month.
Mr. Macmurdo asks when the next meeting will be.
No public comment.
10. Schedule upcoming calendar items. (Discussion and Action)
Mr. Korengold – Board of Appeals (discussion and impossible action), Clean-up Legislation, How can we improve Customer Service (NO OBJECTIONS)
Mr. Lee - business hours / no. of hours of operation on SOP.
Mr. Mounsey - discuss UBER cab situation.
ADJOURNMENT: The meeting was adjourned by standing vote at 4:15 pm.
Monday, July 23, 2012
2nd Floor Atrium Conference Room
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