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SFMTA Taxi Services
Taxi Advisory Council


Monday, January 10, 2011
2nd Floor Atrium Conference Room
One South Van Ness Avenue


PRESENT: J. Gillespie; L. Graham; J. Han; D. Hinds; D. Khan; B.
Korengold; J. Lazar; C. MacMurdo; W. Minikel; D. Nazarov; A. Rebelos; C. Sweis

ABSENT: T. Ajaegbu; J. Bolig; W. Mounsey

STAFF IN ATTENDANCE: Christiane Hayashi – Deputy Director/Council Liaison

1. Call to order: CSweis called the meeting to order at 1:04 p.m.

2. Roll Call – The Roll Call showed a quorum was present.

3. Announcement of prohibition of sound producing devices during the meeting.

4. Approval of Minutes: December 13, 2010
L. Graham motioned to approve the December 13, 2010 minutes. W. Minikel seconded the motion

AYES: J. Gillespie; L. Graham; J. Han; D. Hinds; D. Khan; B.
Korengold; J. Lazar; C. MacMurdo; W. Minikel; D. Nazarov; A. Rebelos; C. Sweis
ABSENT: T. Ajaegbu; J. Bolig; W. Mounsey

Public Comment:
No public comment.

5. Public Comment
M. Spain encouraged the committee to get this report finished as soon as possible. He said the pilot program should be expanded and feels that all taxi medallions should be part of this program of redistribution through purchase. He also said we should look at the fixed fee and move it to $325,000.

T. Lee said the policy of buy one get one free should end. He said one of the major dispatching companies are sending limos to pick up radio calls to the airport and this is unfair to the taxi drivers. He said a lot of drivers have to pay money to the doorman and dispatchers already and this is unfair.

F. Fahy said he received a survey from a previous meeting and there is a lot of money spent on surveys and feels the truth is slanted. He said every shift he works, he counts three new illegal cab companies and he does not see any enforcement. He said there is no incentive for the police to write a ticket and wants to know where the enforcement is.

M. Gruberg said the driver fund is an integral component of the medallion sales program and it is unresolved and undefined. He said this is an important issue and we need to get back to discussion of this item. He passed out documents with suggestions of how to use the fund.

C. Fulkerson responded to M. Spain’s comment saying such a program would be a betrayal of the work of the last 30 years of drivers who have worked in good faith. He pointed out that the committee is anti-labor and this is very unfair to the existing agencies involved in this project to deny the UTW.

E. Healy said all positions are political positions and one of the positions was to sell all the medallions to anybody. He said the plan we came up with was very good. People were under the assumption that they were going to get the medallion a certain way and we figured out a compromise that would do that. He said nobody knows what the actual value of the medallions are and the price was based on other cities – New York is out of bounds. He said we should continue the pilot plan but the people on the list should be taken care of.

B. Valis said he signed up to be on the waiting list after driving a taxi after two years. He said it is daunting to pay $250,000 for a medallion, why not just go to graduate school instead? He said a lot of younger guys are probably going to leave.

R. Graffis said she is speaking on behalf of United Taxicab Workers. She said many taxi drivers are receiving tickets from PCO’s for stopping on Market to pick up passengers. She said she called the MTA and they agreed that this should not be happening and they informed her they were working on it. She said we need to take care of this.

6. Report of the Council Liaison (Discussion only)
a. Staff Update
C. Hayashi, Deputy Director, SFMTA Taxi Services, addressed the concern of tickets being issued to taxi drivers. She said the bus zone issue seems to be under control - as long as taxi drivers pull up to the front of the zone and taxi drivers are loading or unloading then they should be fine. She gave an update on the security camera. She announced the new taxi school training instructor, Farrell Suslow and said the first class will be January 20, 2011.

b. Regulatory Reform Update
C. Hayashi, Deputy Director, SFMTA Taxi Services, informed the public about the new legislation that will be presented to the Board on January 18, 2011. She said the deadline for the report has been moved to March 30, 2011.

c. Taxi Medallion Sales Pilot Program Update
M. Harris, Investigator, SFMTA Taxi Services, gave an update on the Medallion Sales Pilot Program. He said twenty medallions have been awarded to drivers on the waiting list.

J. Gillespie said the biggest issue is with the PCO’s and wanted to know who we could talk to about what is happening with them.

C. Hayashi said that the PCO’s are not the ones issuing the hazard lane

W. Minikel asked if buses have ever received traffic tickets such as running red lights. He said taxi drivers are at the bottom of the Muni shoe. He said that the police does not seem to have time to enforce illegal taxis and limousines but they have time to issue tickets to taxi drivers.

Public Comment:

T. Lee said if you lived in Redwood City, the police there are the best in America. This pilot program is focused on selling the medallions and a few friends of his bought a medallion and they are happy. He said in China the police there do not shoot at people they use a long stick.

M. Spain congratulated Mr. Suslow on his return. He also congratulated the Taxi Staff on the pilot program. He said insurance companies will insure taxi drivers who are 23 and over so the rule should be changed from 24 to 23. He said he thought a new Chair and Vice Chair were going to be elected at this meeting. He asked that people’s names be left out of comments if they say something to criticize someone.

M. Gruberg said there has been a huge spike in the number of tickets issued to cab drivers. He said it is obvious that the word has gone out and is not sure if it is directed specifically at cab drivers but this is not fair. He suggested that a PCO should warn the cab driver.

F. Spiegelman said the whole ticket is being ticketed. She said she stopped on Market Street and you get scared when you leave an elderly person because they cannot cross the street.

C. Rathbone welcomed back Mr. Suslow. He said don’t wait until the end of March to complete the report. He said if you get a real sense of what to do in the next month then finish the report.

C. Fulkerson said we were all led to believe that there would be one medallion issued “free” for every one that is sold. We are required by law to pick up and drop off passengers where they tell us to so if someone wants to get dropped off at a certain place, we can only tweak it so much so we don’t break the law. Getting someone who can barely walk, to walk 60 feet is a big deal.

E. Healy said he is in favor of political action. He said since the MTA has control over the PCO’s then we should go to their meeting to complain until they do something about it.

T. Housman said as long as the driver has a valid California driver’s license and is old enough to sign a contract legally I see no reason about there being a regulation about how old that person is. She understands that most insurance companies will not insure people under 23 but this is not a job for Taxi Services.

M. Harris, Investigator, SFMTA Taxi Services, commented on the medallion sales program and stated that there have only been 20 medallions sold.

R. Graffis wanted to know how SFMTA is going to figure out who is a legal resident. She also said this should happen during the pre-screening so people do not spend all their time and money on something that may not happen. She said we need a loading zone in front of the bus stops with a curb cut, particularly at every BART station with an elevator.

F. Fahy said police officers sometimes have grants to do regulatory enforcement and asked if there is anyway to research that.

C. Sweis closed public comment.


7. Discuss and finalize the impact of the Medallion Sales Pilot Program on Color Schemes. (Discussion and Possible Action)
J. Gillespie said he still wants to know how many medallions sold are being used as gas and gates versus long term lease.

D. Khan said a lot of companies are losing gas and gate medallions.

J. Han said the idea was to take a step and see what could happen if we continue to sell medallions. If only 31 have been sold and most are going to affiliate and only a few are going to gas and gate then this is the whole purpose of the pilot program to see what the negative ramifications are and avoid them.

A. Rebelos said all color schemes have different structures so the sales of the medallions will affect each one differently. The primary concern is knowing when a medallion is going to be sold and the shift that will take place when it is sold. Other than the loss of shifts when a medallion moves, it is impossible to know how the sale would affect a company. He does not see what kind of action we can do to come to a conclusion.

B. Korengold suggested that there be a rule that drivers have to have driven as gate and gas for at least two years.

C. Macmurdo said that we should include in our report that there is concern about a trend of medallions moving away from gas and gates and if we can find a way to mitigate that such as having different fixed prices.

A. Rebelos said the issue of medallions going from gas and gates to owner operators is something that should go into Item 8. It is something that affects the color schemes and its something that we may have to see play out. We should be concerned about it and pay attention to it but that is a business decision that each color scheme should make.

J. Lazar said that it was reported 14 of the medallions sold jumped from one company to another, is there a reason for that.

D. Hinds responded and said when the MTA could not find a buyer to match the company where the medallion is from then that is when the color scheme changed.

J. Lazar said that we have enabled elderly drivers to leave and younger drivers are coming in.

A. Rebelos motioned to state in the report to the directors of MTA that the color schemes have concerns of the trends of medallions being operated as gas and gates versus affiliates and the number of drivers qualified to purchase medallions at each color scheme with no immediate solutions but a recommendation that these concerns be monitored.

W. Minikel said he wanted to add to the motion that we maintain good faith efforts of buyers to minimize the amount of change to color schemes. He seconded the motion.

Public Comment:
T. Lee said if this program is not expanded then he will protest. This pilot program should be expanded, the age of the seller should be lowered and we should put more medallions on the street.

M. Gruberg said there were a lot of concerns even before the program got started. He said it seems you have a golden opportunity to take hold of the situation and put policies in place to discourage certain types of operations.

B. Valis said sometimes the companies don’t see the long term lease drivers for five or six days at a time. If you are trying to control the type of service then we should eliminate long term lease contracts.

C. Rathbone said he can think of multiple incidents of drivers over 70 who have been in accidents in the past year and now that is being eliminated as they sell their medallions. This is an advantage through the color schemes.

C. Fulkerson said one of the considerations that should be monitored is the smaller companies losing medallions as they are sold. This would put smaller companies out of business. He said an exit strategy is desirable but it is completely inferior.

E. Healy said you are changing your own rules on how you conduct the meeting. He agreed with what most have said that it is a benefit that older people are leaving the business.

T. Housman said the motion is too passive and it does not address the concerns.

R. Graffis said the motion needs to be changed because it only addresses the industry’s concern. It should address the concerns of public health and safety as well. She said over 50% of collisions are due to fatigue and we have no control over the long term lease drivers.

C. Sweis closed public comment.

On motion to state in the report to the directors of MTA that the color schemes have concerns of the trends of medallions being operated as affiliates rather than gas and gates and the number of drivers qualified to purchase medallions at each color scheme with no immediate solutions but a recommendation that these concerns be monitored and that the MTA maintain good faith efforts of matching buyers and sellers of the same color schemes.

AYES: J. Gillespie; L. Graham; J. Han; D. Hinds; B.
Korengold; J. Lazar; C. MacMurdo; D. Nazarov; A. Rebelos; C. Sweis

NOES: D. Khan; W. Minikel

ABSENT: T. Ajaegbu; J. Bolig; W. Mounsey

8. Discuss the impact of the Medallion Sales Pilot Program on the drivers and drivers on the waiting list. (Discussion and Possible Action)
B. Korengold gave a presentation on the effects of the Sales Pilot Program on taxi drivers and drivers on the waiting list. He said the average number of medallions issued to the people on the waiting list since 2001 has been 55.8. He said in 2010 only 20 medallions were issued to people on the waiting list. He said when the Commission was in place, there was rarely a delay in reissuing medallions and it took about three months to reissue. This pilot program has not been positive for the people who have been on the waiting list due to lack of communication to those people. One positive affect is that it has created a driver fund.

J. Han said there should be a law to protect gas and gates drivers saying you cannot “clean house” and if they want to do that then they have to pay.

A. Rebelos said one of the reasons he stayed in the business was because he is on the waiting list and if he was able to see this coming fifteen years ago, he would have made other choices.

J. Gillespie said that he has only seen positive affects on drivers and everyone who has come to his company who was buying a medallion has been very happy.

W. Minikel said there are many who would rather not spend the money to purchase it. He asked for a presentation on how we can get the list moving.

B. Korengold commented on J. Gillespie’s comment and said this program has affected the people who put their names on the waiting list fifteen years ago and are waiting for a medallion through the old procedure. He said the sale of a medallion is causing people to lose money.

J. Han said the previous reports of drivers getting bumped off their shifts and how we do not feel the effects is because this is only a pilot program. If 750 medallions are sold, that would cause a massive shift of gas and gates that are available to drivers. This would mean that I would have to look for a long term lease and that is an inconvenience.

C. Macmurdo said the entire situation is tragic. The City requires that people drive full-time and there are no regulations allowing people with disabilities or the elderly to drive. We need to find a way to allow people to have an exit strategy.

L. Graham said she thought there would be 1/3 medallions sold and 2/3 would be given to the waiting list.

C. Hayashi said when we looked at the age group for sellers, we chose the age 70 because there was a smaller number of people in that category versus age 65 and that is what L. Graham is recollecting.

D. Khan said fifty one medallions were issued so fifty one people moved on the list. The list is still moving. He said that drivers he has talked to are all excited about buying a medallion and he has not heard anything negative. He said if we lower the age to 65 that would be good because even they are at high risk.

B. Korengold passed out information on the medallion reform proposal by the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association.

J. Han said since there is a possibility of having long term leases in the future then we should have more discussions on that topic.

A. Rebelos said that there is a lot of people who made decisions based on the fact of being on the list and the list is not moving unless you are number 1000. That has to be a negative affect on drivers.

J. Lazar suggested when you have a medallion for sale they should make it a gate and gas medallion or long term lease medallion. That might fix everything.

L. Graham asked if we know how far down the list we are for sales offers.

M. Harris, Investigator, SFMTA Taxi Services said we have 400 people that we have sent an offer letter to buy a medallion.

Public Comment:

E. Hattan said he bought his medallion and he was number 12 on the waiting list. He said it seemed like the goal line kept getting moved. If the Taxi Commission kept going as it had been then I probably would have gotten my medallion a year ago but I was in limbo. He said it was very tough to make his decision but he is happy. He said the process of purchasing was extremely smooth and the communication as fantastic.

T. Lee said Mr. Barry is misleading everybody. He said there were more medallions issued in 2008 and 2009 because Mr. Heinicke issued more medallions during those years. Otherwise the list would move slowly. He said many of his long term lease drivers have also lost their jobs.

B. Valis said he is a gas and gates driver and he is opposed to the idea of long term lease but feels like he is being pushed into a long term lease. He said he does not like it being called a “free” medallion because people work 15-20 years towards getting this medallion so its not free.

C. Rathbone said there is another side of the coin and that is the tremendous excitement and opportunity that wasn’t there before. He asked the TAC to take Mr. Hattan’s comments into consideration.

C. Fulkerson said the discussion on this item was the most widely varied than any other item. He said this is scathing information and he did not hear anyone else commenting on this item. There are a number of negative affects that are not being quantified. He agreed about the cap to medallions. He said the happiness of the drivers who have purchased medallions is meaningless because they have chosen to put themselves in the process.

E. Healy said if the age was 60 then there were 600 people who were driving cabs that are that old. He said he waited 19 years to get his medallion and if he had bought a medallion instead then he would have broke even by now. He does not know if putting a cap on the number of medallions sold is the solution or not.

T. Housman said L. Graham’s recollection of the 1/3 and 2/3 medallions is not incorrect. She said this was discussed but it just may have not been included in the final program.

C. Sweis closed public comment and continued this item to the following TAC meeting.

9. Council Members requests for information [Discussion only]
W. Minikel asked for a clear explanation of how the “earned” list has moved and how it is going to move. If it seems like it is moving at a slower pace then for those who have been offered to buy have turned down the offer then we should open it up again for reconsideration.

J. Han said how does he doe his job without getting penalized. He is requesting MTA to tell him what the proper way to pick up and drop off is.

B. Oka said that he will look into why tickets are being issued to taxi drivers.

C. Hayashi said she will draft an enforcement bulletin saying when drivers should not get ticketed.

W. Minikel asked how long is the process taking from when they are offered a medallion to the time they receive a medallion.

C. Hayashi said the procedures were changed December 16th and said any information given would be meaningless because the procedure has not been in place very long.

B. Korengold wanted to know where the money is going for medallions that are sold by SFMTA.

C. Hayashi said the money goes to the general fund.

B. Korengold asked what the average age is of taxi drivers when they die.

C. Hayashi said she does not have the resources to research this.

Public Comment:
T. Lee requests the Chair to make a motion and not just the members. He said the age of the seller should be lowered.

E. Healy said he would get the information for B. Korengold but it would be industry wide, not just for San Francisco.

10. Schedule upcoming calendar items [Discussion and Action]
J. Han said he wants to discuss the affects on drivers and universal lease agreements.

D. Khan said he wants to discuss the affect on the public and how it impacts the daily life of the public and lower the age of the medallion seller.

C. Macmurdo said he wants to discuss the enforcement bulletin.

B. Korengold said he wants to discuss how to deal with long term lease versus gates and gas.

C. Sweis said we should discuss the expansion of the pilot program based on age requirements.

C. Hayashi said she could include the enforcement bulletin as part of the Staff Report.

C. Sweis continued Item 8 to the next TAC meeting and added the discussion of the expansion of the pilot program based on age requirements to the next agenda item.

No public comment.

AYES: J. Gillespie; L. Graham; J. Han; D. Hinds; B.
Korengold; J. Lazar; C. MacMurdo; D. Nazarov; A. Rebelos; C. Sweis

NOES: D. Khan; W. Minikel

ABSENT: T. Ajaegbu; J. Bolig; W. Mounsey

ADJOURNMENT: The meeting was adjourned by standing vote at 4:47 p.m.

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