Proposed taxi regulations make way through city council

Staff Reporter
The Destin Log

Taxi regulations were once again a hot topic during Tuesday nights Destin City Council meeting.

"This ordinance that has been proposed, under the guise of safety and fairness, has got to be the first industry that's come to the Destin City Council and said, 'please regulate me more, please charge me more, please hire an inspector," said Jerry White, who owns a local taxi company.

As of late, the city council has been looking into proposed regulations for the "vehicle for hire" industry based on a variety of concerns raised by the public and fellow taxi operators.

Concerns focused price gouging, lack of proper insurance, a lack of background checks, old and possibly unsafe vehicles, and poor appearance of taxis/operators.

Florida law, according to city documents, requires taxi operators and owners to carry liability insurance, but "offers little regulation beyond that." Municipalities that have taxi regulations established standards for a variety of areas, including: annual licensing of vehicles and operators; license fees; annual or semi-annual certification of vehicles; minimum insurance requirements; driver standards; and the display/posting of charges, just to name a few.

The city's proposed ordinance would require taxi drivers to secure a business license; provide specific vehicle information including a recent ASE inspection report; pass a background check, possess a current drivers license; maintain a sign on the vehicle designating it as "for hire" or a taxi; provide a current rate schedule; carry liability insurance "equal to or greater than $100,000 for bodily injury to any one person and $300,000 for injuries to more than person, and $100,000 for property damage.

The proposed ordinance would also require that vehicles are no more than 10 years old if they are used as taxis, as well as a basic dress code, which is described as "professional."

For his part, White told city leaders a few parts of the proposed ordinance left a little to be desired, specifically mentioning the portion about the age of vehicles.

White said there is not much of a difference between cars and boats, but the city is not going out and telling charter boat captains they can't use their vessels if they are 10 or more years old.

"If you pass this ordinance as written, all three of my vehicles are too old," White said.

The city council will hold its first public reading of the proposed ordinance Oct. 5, which is open to the public.

"There is a lot in here (proposed ordinance) that needs to be changed," Councilman Rodney Braden told his colleagues. "The more information we get the better decision we can make up here."

For more information about the proposed taxi/vehicle for hire regulations, call Destin City Hall at 837-4242.