Thursday, December 10, 2009

Town Hall Meetings: Final Speeches

With Matt Gonzales (standing in front of Mike Spain) making a surprise Monday appearance as a sub for Hansu Kim, the presentation of reform plans came to a close on Wednesday December 9, 2009.

Gonzales, Spain and Giuseppe Carvelli all spoke in favor of auctioning off taxicabs - though Gonzales said that he could accept fixed price sales. Their ideas are basically similar so I'll just mention a few points. Arguments in favor of auctioning cabs claim that auctions will:
  • Allow older drivers to exit the business.
  • Move the List or allow for a faster turnover of medallions.
  • Allow drivers to build up equity.
  • Allow for the possibility of making a profit off their investment.
  • Give medallion holders the freedom to sell at any time.
  • Raise revenue for the city.
In Spain's version, revenue would also be raised for a drivers fund.

There were two other ideas in their presentations that I found new and interesting.

Gonzales said there was no real reason why a loan for buying a medallion had to be for 15 years. It could just as easily be for 30 years like the mortgage on a home. In that way, the new medallion holders would have more money to spend on themselves than show up in some other projections. In other words if a loan only cost them $1,000 a month, they could live much better than they could if loan costed $1,800.

Spain, saying that he'd borrowed the idea from Hansu Kim, proposed a voucher system for drivers that could be used toward the purchase of a medallion at an auction. For instance if someone had been a working driver for 20 years he or she would get a voucher for $250,000. If a medallion sold for $400,000, the person would only have to come up $150,000 of his or her own money to compete.

Driver Peter Kirby, who is on the list, had a similar idea saying that drivers should be given credit or money for the time that they had spent on the list in event of an auction.

Driver Athan Rebelos introduced a plan that would create two classes of medallions: fleet medallions that would be prohibited from picking up at SFO and would be used primary for answering radio calls; and individual medallions that would operate much like medallions do now. Both classes could or would be auctioned off under various restricted conditions. The money raised from the auctions would go for taxicab regulation and enforcement, a general city fund and a medical and disability fund for cab drivers.

A great deal of thought and work went into preparation and presentation of all the various plans. I haven't had the space or time to do them justice here. You should be able to find copies of them from the Town Hall meetings archive at:

or by contacting:
  • Director of Taxis & Accessible Services
    One South Van Ness Avenue, Seventh Floor
    San Francisco, CA, 94103.
  • Phone: 415.701.4400.

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