Members of the Anchorage Taxi Permit Association said they plan to sue to try and overturn a recently passed assembly ordinance. Association president Ben Lena said the ordinance degrades the value of current permits, including his, which he paid $120,000 for 19 years ago.

The new ordinance would add 20 new permits every year for the next five years. After that, the cap on permits could be lifted entirely.

Lena said that number could flood the market and cut down the value of his investment.

“We can not compete with that kind of regulation that they proposed to issue,” said Lena. “One hundred taxis and then, in a five year period they will say, well, we will open it up to anybody, that is not fair.”

Lena thinks the system works pretty well now but Anchorage Transportation Inspector Eric Musser said the city needs more cabs.

“You can see there are shortfalls in a lot of areas and at certain times of day,” said Musser.

But Musser couldn’t say exactly how many cabs are needed to fill the gap, and whether the current ordinance will put too many on the streets. Musser said the ordinance directs the city to study the issue after five years to determine whether the new system is working. He said it’s possible the cap could be lifted at that time to add an indefinite number of permits, or regulators could decide there should be fewer permits.

Musser said the city will put 20 permits up for auction in the near future. The minimum bid is $1,980.

Under the ordinance, the bidding process has to stay open for 60 days, so Musser said the soonest Anchorage could see more taxis on the street is in March.

KTVA 11’s Lauren Maxwell can be reached via email or on Twitter

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