Sacramento Crashes Taxi Owners

Sacramento is competing with San Francisco for the award for the most abusive, nuttiest city in California.

Demonstrating a total disregard for private enterprise, the Sacramento City Council is considering adopting an ordinance to impose a two-year hold on taxicab permits. The city council agenda states that this is to give city staff time to “explore ways to reduce the number of permitted taxicabs in the City of Sacramento and their impact on the environment.”

Elite city bureaucrats have decreed that there is an oversupply of taxis, which supposedly contributes to higher fares, lower incomes for drivers and an excessive carbon footprint. And the  new city regulations will require a ratio of gas-powered to electric- and hybrid-powered taxicabs.

The city is not only going to limit the number of taxicabs allowed downtown, it is are going to dictate the kinds of cars which can be used as a taxicab.

Does this sound familiar? In 2009, the California Air Resources Board mandated that California gas stations had to install new gas-dispensing nozzles, claiming that the new nozzles would reduce air emissions. “The new nozzles cost roughly $11,000 each — and most gas stations need six or eight of them,” the Orange County Register reported.

When a law on nozzles was first passed in 2000, it ordered the industry to reduce nozzle fumes and drips by 3 percent. But the technology to accomplish this goal didn’t even exist yet. Instead, to install the new nozzles, gas station owners had to tear down and replace equipment located below the pavement. This expensive solution caused many independent station owners to close long-running businesses.

Crashing Small Cab Companies

The Sacramento City Council is doing much the same by trying to dictate the terms to taxi drivers, many of whom work for small companies that cannot afford to buy new electric or hybrid vehicles.

The Sacramento City Council states, “There is an overabundance of taxicabs in the city of Sacramento. Since 2004, the City of Sacramento has seen a 66 percent increase in taxicab vehicles. The City desires to explore regulations that would reduce the number of permitted taxicab vehicles, along with their impact on the environment.”

Ironically, since  2004 the city completed a massive remodeling of the Sacramento Convention Center in order to bring larger conventions and business groups to town. And the airport has been expanded for much the same reasons. Both of these expansions would normally send a signal that increased taxicab service would be needed for business travelers.

Without government interference, supply and demand principles typically take care of an “overabundance.” If there is not enough work for all of the taxicabs, operators go esewhere or shut down.

However, it appears that the council’s decision hinged on a 2004 report by hired transportation consultant Nelson Nygaard, known for the “San Francisco Better Streets Plan” and work in the national sustainability movement.  Instead of using a number system to keep count of the taxicabs, which is standard in most cities, Nelson Nygaard said “control on taxi numbers may help to address the issue of excessive industry capacity, particularly downtown.  However, it would not directly deal with many of the issues raised by the community.”  The consultant recommended, instead, that “the lack of comprehensive operating and vehicle standards, nominal enforcement, inconsistent fares and high minimum fares, the industry’s poor responsiveness to and communication with stakeholders, and the structure of the industry,” were more important issues facing Sacramento.

Climate Action Plan

I wonder how much Sacramento city paid the international, award-winning transportation firm of Nelson Nygaard to determine that the city’s taxicabs are compromising Sacramento’s sustainability and lifestyle issues?

The City Council is also meddling in other areas of private business. A friend who owns a few properties told me that the city is seriously talking about imposing mandatory energy and carbon discharge controls over rental property owners, and using rental inspectors to enforce it. This is expected to be on the council’s agenda this month under the Sacramento Climate Action Plan, which “will identify how the City and the broader community can reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The CAP will also identify steps we need to take to prepare and adapt to climate change.”

But hold on. It gets worse. The city has abdicated its responsibility and adopted the procedures and policies of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, which “has developed a standard process and methodology for setting and meeting climate protection goals.” The city states that it “will generally follow the ICLEI 5-Step Process as a model in developing the Climate Action Plan.”

Yet one more reason to move out of Sacramento, far away from the madness has just been provided by the city council.

Many say that this city is warring against its own residents.  And council members seem to think that, instead of lowering taxes, encouraging business and providing necessary services, the people can be pacified and distracted by a shiny new arena, just as Roman emperors distracted the peasantry with bread and circuses.

Roman emperors kept the population fed and distracted while they gradually left them homeless, penniless and absolutely dependent on the government.

Sacramento is fast becoming an insane circus, with barking mad leaders who surely must see themselves as emperors.

— Katy Grimes


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  1. John Seiler
    John Seiler 3 August, 2011, 10:12

    This is so dumb. If you reduce the number of taxi drivers, then you increase the price. It’s simple supply and demand from Econ. 101.

    And if you increase the price of cabs, then more people will shun cabs for their own cars, worsening pollution.

    Also, cab licensing is racist, as Walter Williams has written for years, because it raises costs for the “little guys,” who usually are members of minorities. He has a new column up on it:

    Reply this comment
  2. Bob Smith
    Bob Smith 3 August, 2011, 20:03

    I fail to see how *too many* taxicabs increase fares. Excess supply usually decreases prices. How did Sacramento taxi drivers avoid this iron law of economics?

    Reply this comment
  3. LetThemEatCake
    LetThemEatCake 6 August, 2011, 06:27

    … “just as Roman emperors distracted the peasantry with bread and circuses. Roman emperors kept the population fed and distracted while they gradually left them homeless, penniless and absolutely dependent on the government. Sacramento is fast becoming an insane circus, with barking mad leaders who surely must see themselves as emperors.” KG

    Nice analogy.

    Reply this comment
  4. Sam
    Sam 24 September, 2011, 01:52

    I am a taxi driver and i want to let you guys know fares are regulated by city of Sacramento not by drivers ortaxi better be prepare then so latecab companies in Sacramento.When i Started taxi in 2003 there were only 100 taxis in Sacramento and now about 500 taxis in the town.Do think city grown this big?

    Reply this comment
  5. dave
    dave 16 November, 2011, 21:00

    Simple economics doesn’t necessarily work here because many of the drivers are collectiong some sort of other income therefore they don’t need to book a decent day. Instead they take one or 2 fares a day which is just enought to whittle away at the drivers who need to pay $75 to $100 a day for the car lease plus gas expense and then try to put something in our pocket. So the drivers who being subsidized choke the rest of us as they cut into the pie of availible business. Without their susidies they would be shut down in a heart beat or really hustle to make it or not and be off the street. The econo,ies of scale are skewed here. %00 is too many for current business conditions.

    Reply this comment

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