A proposal that would essentially create a “free market” for cabs in San Diego moved out of committee to the full City Council this week.
The measure would lift the cap on how many taxi permits the city hands out, eliminating an underground market for licenses that have costs ranging as high as $150,000 according to one published report.
Hundreds of people lined up to speak when the measure proposed by Councilwoman Marti Emerald and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith was considered at the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee meeting Thursday.
The meeting room was to capacity and they had to open an over flow room.
Proponents believe the move would open the door for taxi drivers who now lease their cabs to start their own taxi businesses.
Cab driver Abdikadir Abdisalan doesn’t want anyone to lose their taxi. He just wants to be his own boss.
“I want the city to give me the opportunity and the privilege to be an individual who can have his own cab, run his own shift, doesn't have to have anybody over his head telling him where to go or where to be,” Abdisalan saiad.
However, there is the question about what happens to those permit holders who invested thousands of dollars into a license only to have more businesses flood the market?
Opponents say local cab companies are already facing growing competition from ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. More permits, they say, means more drivers when there already isn't enough customers.
Cab owner Les Sevaard said the idea of creating a fair market sounds good on paper.
“If you put out more cabs nobody will be able to make a living and it will be chaos on the streets,” Sevaard said.
The measure now moves to the City Council for debate.