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City Council, July 17

Taxis stands for the Market area
“Roaming” banned in the early hours of the weekends
Marc Knapp

We thought the City’s plan for taxi stands in the Market Area was a good idea. So did Council which unanimously approved the program last night. But some taxi and limousine drivers had concerns.

The plan, up for the second reading last night, will create 3 taxi cab stands along the northern side of Market Street. Concomitant with the stands, a “No Flag“ Zone will be created from 12.30 a.m. to 3 a.m. over an area from Meeting Street to East Bay Street, and from Cumberland Avenue to Pinckney Street. It will illegal for taxis to “roam” in the proscribed area during the proscribed time. Taxis can pick up fares only at the cab stands and only when the cab is at the head of the line. To see Ordinance and the proscribed area and location of the taxi stands, press Download file. Note that there is a Scrivener’s Error on page 1. The “11 am” should be “11 pm” in the paragraph that begins “Whereas, the market area….”

The Ordinance was described as a 1 year pilot program. Presumably it will be tweaked or amended in the light of results.

The need for the Ordinance arose from the popularity of the Market area as a “watering hole’ in the early hours of Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The exodus of bar patrons around closing time created chaos as taxis and limousines competed for business and blocked streets.

As the discussion on the Ordinance last night made clear, the taxi stands are only for licensed taxis. They are not for limousines. Limousines cannot “roam” by law, though some speakers suggested in Citizen’s Participation that some limousines masquerade as taxis. Limousines, if summoned by a departing patron during the 12.30 a.m. to 3 a.m., period must pick up their customer outside the proscribed area. As a citizen remarked, the walk to a point outside the proscribed area may prove a challenge to an intoxicated patron. Police Chief Mullen indicated that the police would look after such people!

One taxi operator was unhappy about the need to join a line at the taxi stand. What if the cabbie drove the customer to the bar and the customer wanted to be picked up be the same cab? “Tough”, said the Police Chief, the cab has to join the line. And if the customer wants to engage the taxi, the driver must make arrangements for the customer to be picked up outside the proscribed area. Otherwise, the customer must use the cab at the head of the line.

There was little else of note at last night’s meeting. Council sensibly approved the rezoning of 1669 Meeting Street from General Business (GB) to Light Industrial (LI). The site is surrounded by industry and there are no nearby dwellings. However, residents of some communities opposed the rezoning because it was the intention of the owner to setup a tattoo parlor. Council member Mitchell spoke of the application and a petition against the rezoning. He dismissed it and said the rezoning would have no impact on these far away communities. Council member Waring and noted that a tattoo parlor operated in his district and that it had been a model member of the community.

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