April 29, 2015
For Immediate Release
Judge’s Ruling Advances United Taxi Workers Effort to Lift the Cap!
United Taxi Workers of San Diego applaud Judge Prager’s ruling to allow the taxi permit process to go forward and understanding that City Council and the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) passed this resolution with the best interest of San Diego residents and consumers in mind.
Deputy City Attorney Meghan Wharton argued that lease drivers had already advocated for and won the public policy debate in front of City Council and MTS. She further argued that the City of San Diego has every authority to establish policy in regard to publically owned taxi permits. Redefining the status quo as the current open permit application process, Judge Prager was reluctant to stop the application process noting the harm that would be imposed on lease drivers.
“We will be able to take days off and won’t have to be on the road seven days a week, 12-16 hours a day. We will be able to trade in our old leased cars that keep us unable to make a living to new, low emission cars that we own and operate,” said UTWSD driver organizer Abebe Antallo. “I am very relieved that I can go forward with my permit application and start my own taxi business for myself and my family.”
Judge Prager also expressed the sentiment that going forward with the MTS open permit process would have no immediate environmental impact. Judge Prager stated in his final ruling that petitioners only provided speculative and unsupported evidence in support of its contention that the amendment to the ordinance would have negative environmental impacts. Conversely, he expressed that it might in fact have a positive overall environmental effect by replacing older cars with low to no emission taxis and decreasing the need for personal vehicles.
Judge Prager questioned whether this case has to do with environmental concerns, or rather is being used by the permit holders to protect their financial interests in public taxi permits. “Permit holders have been benefiting for decades off public property. Demanding millions more in damages after creating a monopoly system is the real constitutional violation here,” said President Mikaiil Hussein.
“For over five years, UTWSD and it’s members have worked to educate the City and MTS about the underground economy that existed when the cap on taxi permits was in effect. A lot of hard work and research was conducted to achieve this policy reform and we are very encouraged about Judge Prager’s decision to allow drivers to continue applying for permits,” said Sarah Saez, UTWSD Program Director.
United Taxi Workers of San Diego would like to thank the City Attorney’s Office, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Deputy City Attorney Meghan Wharton and their legal team for defending this important policy reform and our brave driver member Abdullahi Hassan who is working with Institute for Justice to intervene in the case. We also want to thank Councilmember Marti Emerald, Policy Advisor Ralph Dimarucut, City Council and MTS board members and finally our amazing drivers and allies who helped make lifting the cap possible!
Judge Prager’s decision to deny the preliminary injunction means that permit holders do not have a likelihood of winning the case. United Taxi Workers is committed to protecting our drivers policy victory till the end.
UTWSD is available for comments and driver interviews.
Contact: Sarah Saez, firstname.lastname@example.org, (774)392-0377
Founded in 2009, a core group of taxi drivers formed United Taxi Workers of San Diego to advocate for more equitable and improved working conditions in the industry.