NEW ORLEANS — Responding to a changing market in which the demand for luxury sedans has outstripped that for stretch limousines, the New Orleans City Council voted 7-0 to relax the requirements for companies that want to rent such sedans to the public. Under a law that the council was told has been in effect for many years, a company was limited to one permit for a luxury sedan, such as a Lincoln Town Car, for every three limousine permits it held. The total number of luxury sedans was capped at 50.
Changes approved Thursday remove the limit on total sedans and say a company may apply for as many sedan permits as it wants, provided that it either owns or leases at least two limousines and two sedans. The law retains requirements that the luxury cars must be four-door sedans with no more than six seats, including that of the driver, and that limit the colors to white, black, gray, or dark blue. The law retains a requirement that limousines seat seven to nine passengers.
The sedans must be of "the most current model year available in the calendar year of the application."
Sidney Bournes, a deputy director of the Department of Safety and Permits who oversees the Taxicab Bureau, said limousine companies asked for the changes and taxicab companies didn't object. A ban against luxury sedans picking up customers on the street, as taxis can do, will remain in effect, he said.
The council hired the local law firm of Bryan & Jupiter in January 2005 to recommend ways to rewrite the entire chapter of the city code dealing with regulation of taxicabs and other types of for-hire ground transportation. The rewriting was intended to bring greater clarity and order to Chapter 162, which many people in the transportation industry have said is contradictory and confusing.
That project has yet to be completed, and Bournes said the owners of limousine companies did not want to wait for the overall revision to get the rules for luxury sedans eased.
Source: The Times-Picayune