Anchorage Assembly approves 100-plus new cab permits
Big changes are coming to the taxicab industry. The Anchorage Assembly passed an ordinance Tuesday night that will increase the number of permits in the city and make it much cheaper to get one.
Members of the industry aren’t happy, as evidenced by hours of testimony on this ordinance — at the Assembly meeting two weeks ago and again Tuesday night. Permit-holders and drivers say they’re not making enough money now and that adding permits threatens their livelihood.
One man passed out a copy of a 2013 receipt to Assembly members, showing he paid $75,000 for his permit. He and others say the ordinance will turn the industry on its head by adding 116 more permits over the next five years. Instead of costing tens of thousands of dollars, permits would be sold in a lottery for less than $2,000, according to the proposed ordinance.
In the end, an amendment proposed by Assembly member Forrest Dunbar, that would allow permits to continue being distributed through an auction rather than a lottery with a set rate, led to the ordinance’s passage. With Dunbar’s amendment, it passed with a 8-3 vote.
Amy Demboski voted in favor of the ordinance.
“This is by no means a silver bullet. It’s not going to fix every transportation issue,” she said. “This is the first step, though, into modernizing the laws that govern this industry and I don’t think we’re even close to being done.”
Dick Traini, Assembly vice-chair, said he understood the position of the cab industry.
“Like the one guy that came in tonight and said he paid $75,000 for a permit. So we’re gonna reduce this down to $1,980? How do we then recompense him for the money lost?” he asked.
Assembly chair Elvi Gray-Jackson, vice-chair Dick Traini, and member Pete Petersen voted against the ordinance.
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