Skip to content.
Skip to page navigation.Skip to content.Web site accessibility
SF MTA homeSF MTA home SF MTA home
Page title as stylized text


Commission Chambers

November 13, 2007 at 6:30 p.m.

City Hall,1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

Room 400


Present:  Gillespie, Breslin, Benjamin, Oka, Paek, Heinicke (late), Oneto

Absent:    0

President Gillespie called the meeting to order at 6:33 P.M.

STAFF IN ATTENDENCE:  Executive Director Heidi Machen, Deputy Director Jordanna Thigpen, Executive Secretary Tamara Odisho – Taxi Commission, City Attorney Tom Owen, Sergeant Reynolds

Heidi Machen, Executive Director: Turn-off cell-phones, interferes with phone systems and we get feedback.

1.      Call to Order/Roll Call

2.      Staff Report and Commissioner Announcements [INFORMATION] 

  • Director Machen: Update on weekly meetings and announcements.
  • Sgt Reynolds: Update on 3rd quarter activity report. 311 is overwhelming giving a lot more statistics gathered but not much else done with the report. Short staffed with not much time to work on everything. 
  • Com Breslin: Thank you for bringing this forward. Are there differences between illegal limos picking up on the streets versus at a hotel? 
  • Sgt Reynolds: Yes but the doormen are soliciting the rides so we cannot ticket them.
  • Com Breslin:  I would like the same law applied to everyone.  If we aren’t impounding the vehicles then can’t the money be recouped by the limo owner for the cost as opposed to the taxi detail? Look forward to seeing the 2nd part of the report.

Commissioner Announcements:

  • Com Breslin:  Min Paek and I were at State of City and we enjoyed it.  Serious issue hotels are facing and cannot go into detail at this meeting since it is not agendized.  Treasurer’s office has changed rules for people who stay in hotels for more than 30 days, language no longer allows airlines in this exemption.  They take 1,050 per night and that would lose many taxi rides.  Meeting this Monday 10am in City Hall. Received a letter in packet about a driver receiving ticket for dropping off someone in a bus zone.  Tickets should be given in common sense when issuing especially since the passenger was disabled.
  • Com Benjamin:  Three complaints with Commission office staff.  Brings it up because of last years events to not reoccur.  If notice goes out in 2007 then the applicant should be required to receive their medallions under this years requirement.
  • Com Breslin: Yes especially since we will only have one meeting in December.
  • Director Machen: When the notice went out staff was very clear in the letter of the requirements.  Informally we tried giving some allowances to companies.  This is not a problem if the driver has the 4 years to take the extra time.  We wanted to extend the courtesy by offering the medallions this year.
  • Com Paek: Is there any evaluation for the paratransit program? We have not received an update report on the paratransit service.
  • Director Machen: We are working with Veolia on a ramp survey which should be coming before the Commission in the wintertime.
  • Com Heinicke: Last Friday in October father-in-law visiting needed a cab and got into a long line and 3 limos approached the taxi stand and told the bellman that he would not take the limo because it was illegal.  Issue he cares about and takes seriously. Realizes the frustration out there and needs to be a taxi industry wide issue.
  • Com Benjamin: How do we make drivers fall under manager’s exemption?
  • Director Machen: MPC code would have to be amended.  It also limits small companies.  It is drafted as a limited exemption. If the Commission wishes to expand that then Commission could send a Resolution to the Board of Supervisors.

Public Comment:

  • Tom Stanghellini: The applicants didn’t receive the letters from the Commission until one week before the deadline.
  • Barry Taranto:  Appreciates Com Heinicke’s comments. Wishes the Commission would pass Resolution to the DPT and Police Commission.  Sgt Reynolds excellent staff report, however 95% of officers he interviewed during Halloween said that they didn’t know the laws.
  • Chuffa: You have to teach people how to fill out way bills, and how to run their companies.
  • Mike Spain:  A lot of people competing for medallions and is happening in SF or Soviet Union. Limo problem is peak-time limos.  They are filling the demand.
  • Mark Gruberg:  Regarding Daly/Ma legislation UTW was in favor of a more flexible standard and prior experience should be substituted for current experience.  This legislation should be looked at again.
  • Charles Rathbone: Luxor arranged for 92 drivers to pick-up at the 49ers game.  Grasshopper is very blatant and is a frequent player.
  • Com Heinicke: Questions about Grasshopper driving taxi.  Things are happening because Commission staff and others pressured DA’s office to hear this case.
  • Sgt Reynolds: Crew is usually following him around trying to catch him picking up since they must catch him in the act. Was removed from court today in handcuffs.
  • Peter Witt: Sgt Reynolds should refer to his documents as limo stats.
  • Ruah Graffis:  Reading from Taxi Detail memo to DPT. Drivers are being cited in all zones.
  • TariqMehmood: Livery on limo plates have certain privileges. Registration card says they are taxis.  DPT white zones should be enforced.
  • Jim Gillespie: Drove home a doorman from Ritz Carlton and he asked what the limo protocol was.  Was told visitors are referred to the concierge for a limo.

SPECIAL ORDER 7:00 – 7:30 PM

3.      Public Comment (Please limit public comment to items NOT on the agenda)

·         Mohhammed Boya: Gas prices are increasing and should increase meter at this time.  Limo problem

·         Mike Spain: Prop A is another SF political established agenda item with too many other items.  Great that the Commission will be relieved of their duties.  Especially because of the Green Fleet Subcommittee since DOE already has a list.

·         Peter Witt: Study of taxi service and commission over 10 years. No Commissioner has taken this seriously.  None of the issues have been addressed over the years.

·         Eric Hatten: Thanks Commissioner Breslin for calling him back.  Thanks everyone who supported him at the last meeting.  Follow-up question on disability waiver has sent in ADA forms.  Also sent a letter regarding legal issue with Yellow Cab.

·         David Trotmen: Consider taxi schools on  Cab College bounced off, too many strong responses.  Willing to work with other schools to present one package on the list.

·         Chuffa:  Oct 24th Board of Appeals hearing of David Basada you wonder how those voting members decide.  He was revoked because he failed audit but was not audited previous years. Commissioner said that City is recommended to teach small companies how to run their business.

·         Emil Lawrence: Submitted letters to the Commission and none seemed have received it.

·         Tom Stanghellini: Bank robber is in jail after car jacking a taxi because of Luxor’s gps tracking.  Full service cab company helping out the drivers not to the companies’ pockets.

·         Barry Taranto: Oracle and the Mayor said this was good economical benefit to drivers.  I could go without it because of traffic, lack of cab stands and limos.  All limos parked at W hotel.  Police Commission report for Halloween, should use 1/20th of the officers and would not have the limo problem.

·         Joanne: Received medallion offer.  Has a disability and cannot drive a taxi. Through exercise can walk but cannot drive full requirement. Will become ineligible because of disability.

·         Pres Gillespie: Cannot discuss your case since do not have the details of your medical condition, you have to speak with staff.

·         Andy Sinayko: Radio dispatcher at DeSoto for 24 years. Waiting list for 14 years has not driven.  Managers told him that he would be exempt from driving.  Until the Commission passed the Manager’s exemption.  When it was passed in 2006 began driving but is one year short and will be disqualified.

·         Tariq Mehmmod: Issue right now gas prices.  Very expensive.

·         Com Heinicke: Are you in favor of a meter increase for drivers?

·         Tariq Mehmood: Yes

·         Jim Gillespie: Francis Gonzales drives a lot and was denied by the Commission because he did not know that Yellow only turned in his ramp waybills as opposed to the regular waybills.  Staff says he had his chance.  It’s taken a few months for us to realize what is going on.  He has driven over 2000 hours each year but we have only submitted 600 hours.

·         Pres Gilliespie:  I have no problem with that.  We will need to look into this.

·         Hansu Kim: He’s a very strong proponent of Daly/Ma but there are a lot of people that have driven and are not being qualified because of the legislation. Legal action may be taken since there are enough people that are being disqualified because of this. 

·         Com Breslin: Confused about the Consent calendar.  Do we get all the names who qualify and do not qualify?

·         Director Machen:  If someone comes into the office who does not meet the requirements the Commission will then place them on the Consent calendar as are others even if they partially meet the requirement.

·         Sylvia Johnson: Drove a taxi for 6 years

4.      Consent Calendar [ACTION]

  • Dir Machen: Sever items C1 D 2-7
  • Pres Gillespie: Continue D 4 Yuriy Gasparyan

Public Comment:

  • Barry Taranto: Require D 4 to take the class again according to the PCC report.  Has known Steven Keyes long time maybe should turn in way bills every few months after he is given his medallions.
  • Ruth Keys: Turned in waybills that she has kept and she compared his waybills and staffs.
  • Carl Macmurdo: Steven Keys and others as well are all legitimate people falling in the cracks because of Daly/Ma.
  • Mike Spain:  Congratulations to all medallion holders. Very slow process of issuing medallions.
  • EmilLawrence: Present way the waybills are done are chaotic. There should be a way drivers can keep records.
  • Dir Machen: Mr. Lawrence should have turned the letter to staff and not to the Commissioners.  There are also applications that he needs to fill out. 
  • Tariq Mehmood: Staff not looking at documents. 
  • Tom Stanghellini: Steven Keys professional cab driver should get a medallion.
  • Mark Gruberg:  There is other evidence that should consider when driver’s are up for medallions.  Should have a better method of keeping waybills.
  • Peter Witt: Ramp certificate is a scam. Fog City is on calendar for next week and they have issues that deal with public safety. 
  • Mary McGuire: If some of his waybills were not counted because of no time stamps because there is no requirement for time stamps on the waybills.
  • Chuffa: Mr. Lawrence was confused on the process and made an error.  He should not be punished because of this. 
  • Pres Gillespie:  Director Machen can you explain agenda Item E, people who are requesting time waivers.
  • Director Machen: Time waivers are being used to help drivers make up one extra year to meet the driving requirement.  Driver’s requesting time waivers for ramp taxi would be subject to Daly/ Ma with an additional requirement of driving a ramp taxi 6 months before the applicant receives the offer letter and at least 100 wheelchair pick-ups. The newly issued ramped medallions are also subject to PCC interview.
  • Com Heinicke: Motion to approve Items A- 10.23.2007 Minutes, B- Public Passenger Vehicle drivers, D-1- Grant medallion to Arkadiy Dulman, E- Time Waiver, F 1- Luxor Taxi Wrap, F 2-Yellow Taxi Wrap  & G1-29 G 31-39- Ineligible for Ramp 
  • Oka: 2nd Motion
  • Roll Call
  • Vote

AYES: Benjamin Oka, Breslin, Gillespie, Paek, Heinicke, Oneto  


RECUSE: 0                                                                                        


  • Heinicke: Motion to grant medallions to Items D-3 Gordon Bell & D-6 William Wilkes
  • Oka: 2nd
  • Vote

      AYES: Oka, Breslin, Gillespie, Paek, Heinicke, Oneto                   NOES: 0

      RECUSE: Benjamin                                                               ABSENT: 0

  • Com Heinicke: Approve D-5 Alula Woldeab
  • Breslin: 2nd
  • Roll Call
  • Vote

AYES: Benjamin Oka, Breslin, Paek, Heinicke, Oneto      


RECUSE: Gillespie



  • Sgt Reynolds: Continue Item C- Michael Roach color scheme change due to investigation at National Cab.  Color scheme is not complying with the SFPD-Detail and Commission staff requests.
  • Com Heinicke: Is the color scheme applicant part of this investigation? Can you give more information on this issue.
  • Sgt Reynolds: He is not apart of the investigation but may be.
  • Joseph Breall: This a clear attempt from Metro cab to hold off the color scheme change.  Since this color scheme is unrelated to the investigation it should not be continued.
  • Sgt Reynolds: Received a letter from Joseph Breall who has not responded to any letters or requests, he has been notified.
  • Com Heinicke: If the applicant is here, please speak.
  • Michael Roach: Four months since received medallion, he cannot get contracts from Metro. He lives under indentured servitude, since Mr. Hybels claims the Commission and staff has approved his medallion as a favor to him.  
  • Com Benjamin: How will this transfer of this medallion to National affect your investigation?
  • Sgt Reynolds: It will not affect it.  I wanted to let the Commission know.
  • Com Benjamin:  I think we should go ahead with the transfer and not hold it up. Since we are not apart of the transfer.  Motion to approve transfer
  • Com Breslin: 2nd motion.
  • Pres Gillespie: I cannot approve this to a color scheme that is not cooperating with our staff.
  • Com Heinicke: This takes things to another level since the color scheme is not cooperating with Detail and staff.
  • Com Benjamin: Withdraws motion
  • Com Heinicke: Motion to continue this item
  • Com Breslin: Continue for two weeks.
  • Roll Call
  • Vote

AYES: Benjamin Oka, Breslin, Gillespie, Paek, Heinicke, Oneto  


RECUSE: 0                                                                                        



  • Sgt Reynolds: Item D-2 Mikhail Lirisman complaint issued today and needs time to investigate. Possible criminal conduct.
  • Pres Gillespie: Will continue this item to give you time to investigate?
  • Sgt Reynolds: It depends since there are 3-4 other things that are pending investigation.  No public safety risk.
  • Com Paek: Continue this item to the next meeting.
  • Com Oka: 2nd motion
  • Com Heinicke: We should screen this complaint quickly.
  • Com Oneto: Would this case hurt the color scheme?
  • Sgt Reynolds: Always possible but they would better address this than I and I only saw this tonight so I do not have much information.
  • John Lazar: What is happening is a violation of rules and regulations that Luxor does not want to be apart of.
  • Roll Call
  • Vote

AYES: Oka, Breslin, Gillespie, Paek, Heinicke, Oneto                  


RECUSE: Benjamin                                                              


  • Com Breslin: Item D-7 Stephen Keys, would like Ruth Keys to speak on this.
  • Com Heinicke:  Quick overview from Director Machen.
  • Dir Machen: Recounted waybills in questions and reviewed logs kept by Ruth Keys.  Reviewed their dates with her note and found indiscrepencies.  Second count showed less driving hours then the first count.  There were 12 waybills that were not listed in Mrs. Keyes journal.
  • Ruth Keys:  Overview.
  • Com Benjamin: Motion to grant medallion to Steven Keys.
  • Com Oka: 2nd motion.
  • Roll Call
  • Vote

AYES: Benjamin Oka, Breslin, Gillespie, Paek, Oneto                   

NOES: Heinicke,

RECUSE: Gillespie                                                               


  • Pres Gillespie: Remove Emil Lawrence’s name from the ineligible ramp list.
  • Com Breslin: Does he maintain his position?
  • Pres Gillespie: Our staff will review his applications.
  • Com Breslin: Motion to reinstate him to the ramp waiting list.
  • Com Oka: 2nd motion

AYES: Benjamin Oka, Breslin, Gillespie, Paek, Heinicke, Oneto  


RECUSE: 0                                                                                        


5.      Criminal Background Checks for Taxi Drivers and medallion Applicants [DISCUSSION and POSSIBLE ACTION]

  • Jordanna Thigpen, Deputy Director: Overview of this item. 
  • Com Heinicke:  This is an important issue that we should focus on especially if the MTA will be taking this Commission over. We should lay down standards on this issue, removing some of these listed would allow some folks to get in who shouldn’t.
  • Pres Gillespie:  We can add more over the few months.
  • Com Heinicke:  Good idea.  Let’s continue other discussions on this and add-on if we need to later.
  • Com Breslin: Current drivers, will these new parameters include the new drivers?
  • Deputy Director Thigpen: That brings us into the next part of this where drivers and medallion holders do not undergo any background checks after they are initially approved.  Commission could ask that with every A card renewal there’s a background check conducted.
  • Pres Gillespie:  Will it be possible to conduct a national background check?
  • Sgt Reynolds:  There is no national database for employment checks but there is a DOJ state database.
  • Com Heinicke:  We should contact the City Attorney on this issue to make sure we get this right and notice the applicant sufficiently.  Can we also add something as a “catch-all” to avoid a potential safety hazard.  I don’t want to delay this by continuing but it should be memorialized in the Resolution.
  • Com Oneto:  Can we approve the Resolutions and just make an amendment to the one section?
  • Pres Gillespie:  If we do not need to have the City Attorney review this, then we can.
  • Com Breslin:  We usually do not approve Resolutions the same day they are introduced.

Public Comment:

  • Tom Stanghellini: Insurance companies check the driver records.  What if someone does not have a good driving record only an annual basis, there’s a lot of little points.  Drivers should be checked before paying for taxi school. 
  • Jim Gillespie:  Glad the items were moved on the resolution, must be careful of where to draw the lines of micromanaging companies.
  • Com Heinicke: The plural of “convictions” does that mean more than one?
  • Deputy Director Thigpen:  It was intended although it was not included.  For example, someone recently received 2 DUI’s in one year period.  So that will be up to you to decide.
  • Com Oneto:  Do they keep records as far back to 10 years?  How do you feel about two DUI’s in the last 10 years?
  • Charles Rathbone: No objections but tactical delay of receiving an A-card takes a long period.  The background check could result in an indefinite delay. 
  • Emil Lawrence:  Thank you for reinstating me on the position.  This is not a court and staff should not be doing this law work.  75% of drivers are not from the US and how are you going to check their backgrounds?
  • Mark Gruberg: There should be time prohibitions on some of these.  Things should not follow people around for their entire life.  There are some indiscrepencies between the resolutions from today and the last Commission meeting.  These go too far.
  • Hansu Kim: We can avoid a lot of everyone’s time if the Commission staff included color schemes when drafting resolutions.  This item could have been crafted better if the community gave their input.
  • Carl Macmurdo: Do not see the need to put in the specific points since the MPC language is inclusive.
  • Peter Witt: Not one speaker has spoken for this resolution. Rehabilitation and jail are two sources to fix these violations. Staff is rushing to judgment.
  • Mike Spain: Known a few murders and some drug dealers.  Also knows drivers who carry weapon. Others who have convictions and served time.
  • Tariq Mehmood:  What prompts this Commission to rush these rules? The laws been drafted by someone who doesn’t have much experience. 
  • Mr. Singh: Speaking on behalf of drivers.  If a driver is convicted and served time, why should this be a problem? This is a waste of everyone’s time. 
  • Sgt Reynolds: People are not happy.  Citizens have written letters of complaints of bad service.  This will weed out a small group of people that harp the system.  If we do not have the tools how do we know if we have sexual predators?  There aren’t only 1 or 2 problems.  We are looking for heavy duty violators.  We want this tool to make the City safer for everyone.
  • Mary McGuire:  Who will pay for this?  Legislation is confusing because it talks about different things.   Who does this apply too and does this apply retroactively?
  • John Lazar:  What about limo drivers?  We should know who’s driving but it happens without our knowledge.  Personal information is difficult to find.  Reaching out to the color schemes is important. Background checks on long time drivers doesn’t make sense. 
  • Deputy Director Thigpen: This is not retroactive and only applies to new drivers.  I believe in redemption but that does not mean that we should sit back and allow people that have convictions to drive the public around. 
  • Pres Gillespie: Do you know the recommendations we have suggested? 
  • Deputy Director Thigpen:  Yes, I only ask the Commission pass the P-16 medallion Resolution since it will take more resources to revoke a medallion than to prevent one from going through. 
  • Com Heinicke: We presented some changes and members of the public have too.  I continue to debate what the background check should be since I agree that there should be a background check.  Should we allow the detail work their standards or should we have thoroughly listed criteria.  
  • Com Oneto:  All companies do background checks on their employees.  I don’t see why taxi drivers shouldn’t.
  • Com Paek:  Does not feel comfortable voting on this tonight. I would like to have included the companies’ opinions.  We should pause and think about a consensus on this issue with all the stake holders. 
  • Deputy Director Thigpen:  We did consult with a few taxi company owners.  Some companies do not cooperate with us to establish standards when they do not adhere to current standards.
  • Pres Gillespie: We would like for you to make the proposed changes and come back to you at the next scheduled meeting.

6.      Subpoena Authority and Hearing Rule Changes - Recommending Board of Supervisor Legislation [DISCUSSION and POSSIBLE ACTION]

      *Continued to call of the Chair

7.      Public Convenience and Necessity: Establishing Appropriate Number of Taxis, Including Possible Issuance of Peak Time Medallions  [POSSIBLE ACTION]

      *Continued to call of the Chair

8.      Public Comment (Please limit public comment to items NOT on the agenda; also limited to public that did not speak during Special Order)

  • Carl Macmurdo: MUNI and taxi allows for felons and gives other people a second chance.  Possibly future agendas should cover this.
  • Charles Rathbone: Agenda should be put together differently.  Better effort to be made. 
  • Rich Hybels:  Only have asked medallion holders to give him 30 days notice for color scheme.
  • Laurie Graham: Parking drop-off in white/ blue zone issue that needs to be addressed.

9.      Adjournment -11:05pm



Skip bottom navigation and boilerplate text.Begin brief site navigation and boilerplate text.