ON-Lion Letter

In a major victory for taxi drivers and riders, a Superior Court judge in November ruled against a group of San Diego cab companies that sought to stop the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) from issuing any new taxi permits.  The ruling rejects all of the cab companies' legal arguments and brings the case to an end, barring an appeal.

The case was filed in March, after the city of San Diego removed its cap on the number of taxi permits, previously set at 993.  Under the new policy, the city allows an unlimited number of permits and requires zero- or low-emission cabs.  MTS issues permits on the city’s behalf, under a longstanding contract.

The cab companies' lawsuit alleged that California environmental-quality laws prevent MTS from issuing new taxi permits without first studying the effect that taxi businesses have on the environment.  According to the ruling, however, "Neither the city nor MTS was required to prepare an Environmental Impact Report."

"This lawsuit was baseless from the start," according to Wesley Hottot, an attorney with the Institute for Justice (IJ), which represents two taxi drivers who intervened in the case to protect their new permits.

"There is absolutely no law that prevents a city from allowing the free market to decide the number of taxis," Hottot continued.  "If this ruling is appealed, it will be affirmed."

"This is a great day for taxi drivers," said IJ client Abdi Abdisalan, a lease driver for nine years before he obtained a permit under the new law and started his own company, Adam Cab.  "With this permit, I work for myself and choose my own destiny."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports IJ.

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