In 2007, the voters of San Francisco passed Proposition A,
which was advertised as the "Clean Air" bill for MUNI improvements. There was no mention of taxis in the
advertisements or the official simplified explanation of Prop A in the voter pamphlet. Only one small paragraph in
the 9 page legal text mentioned that total authority over the taxi industry would be transferred to the SFMTA. One
sentence gave them authority to change any "motor vehicle for hire" laws.
Before the November vote, Mayor Gavin Newsom and then Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin,
signed a letter assuring the Board of Supervisors, voters and concerned cab drivers that they would were "not supportive
of an effort to merge the Taxi industry unless proper guarantees are made to protect Proposition K (see "Newsom's Assurance"
to left), which among other things, does not allow the sale or "transfer" of medallions.
Shortly after the Board of Supervisors approved this transfer of authority,
Mayor Newsom announced his desire to auction medallions to raise revenue for the city. Once the tranfer went into
effect, the Board of Supervisors approved the SFMTA's budget, with $15 million that was to come from the taxi industry,
but there was no plan. This has made the main criteria for industry reform, that it make millions of dollars for the
To our surprise however, SFMTA Taxi Director
Christiane Hayashi has gone to great efforts to understand the industry and has held over 200 hours of Town Hall Meetings
with drivers, company reps and others. She's also met with drivers at the airport and gone to various cab companies.
She is making an attempt to do this in a fair and measured way, also making public service, safety and acceptable driver
income important criteria.
The SFMTA has slated $20
million to come from medallion sales over the next 2 fiscal years. This will be either outright by the SFMTA or from
transfer fees. None of this money will go back into the taxi industry. San Francisco taxi regulation is paid
for entirely from permit fees which was $2.2 million a year, but is expected to be 2.9 million these next fiscal years.
We at the SFCDA feel that selling medallions, particularly outright by the
city, will put new medallion holders in massive debt, delaying if not preventing many drivers on the medallion waiting list
from getting their medallions. Many of these drivers have altered their career choices to remain qualified for their
medallion by complying with the driving requirement.