Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian, D-46th District, a supporter of the state's limousine industry, spoke to members of the Greater California Livery Association Tuesday, May 12, 2015 in Glendale, Calif. (Photo by Tim Crowley/LCT)
GLENDALE, Calif. -- For operators in California, no two issues have whipped up more challenges and controversy in recent years than transportation network companies (TNCs) and emergency stretch limousine exit rules.
Two measures winding through the California Legislature this summer would provide some relief to operators on both fronts. The Greater California Livery Association updated its members Tuesday night, May 12 at a Los Angeles-area meeting held in Glendale.
Underscoring the need to pass the measures, GCLA leaders held an impromptu lobbying fundraiser that netted $20,000 on the spot from about 20 supporters among the total 110 attendees. Contributors committed to either monthly donations over one year or one-time lump sum donations.
On TNCs, the Legislature is considering AB24, the "Measure of Safety" bill to further regulate TNCs by requiring: 1) Drug tests for drivers; 2) Limo license decals on all TNC vehicles; 3) Participation in the DMV's pull-notice program which identifies drivers with past moving violations.
AB24's sponsor, Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian, D-46th District, told GCLA members that a provision for mandatory driver background checks had to be removed as a compromise to keep the bill from dying. The bill has passed the Assmebly Utilities and Commerce and Transportation committees, and goes before the Appropriations Committee this week. Nazarian asked members to fill out a postcard urging support of AB24 and send it to their local Assembly and Senate representatives. He also asked them to call their representatives.
"It's a very difficult task to get the message across of the need for these safeguards," Nazarian said. He cited the wave of media reports about female TNC passengers becoming the victims of predatory criminal drivers as a major reason for AB24 and safety rules. "You don't come across such acdtivities among limousine, bus and taxi drivers because they transport you safely from point A to point B," Nazarian said.
GCLA Treasurer and legislative team member David Kinney calls for lobbying fund commitments as GCLA 1st Vice President John Raftery records donations from attendees calling out their support. $20,000 was raised during the GCLA meeting Tuesday, May 12, 2015 in Glendale, Calif. (Photo by Tim Crowley/LCT)
Another costly business consequence facing operators is a state bill passed in 2013 requiring a fifth door and emergency exits on all stretch limousines by Jan. 1, 2016. AB863 would eliminate the fifth door requirement and extend the deadline for the other rules to Jan. 1, 2017. The bill would extend the productive business life of stretch limousines statewide while buying more time to possibly modify or reverse the exit rules.
GCLA Treasurer David Kinney, also owner of API Global Transportation in Sacramento, told members that installation of a fifth door would cost $5,000 to $20,000, thereby rendering many stretches too expensive or unprofitable. The emergency exit provision, while less costly, would require operators to install a roof escape hatch or two pop-out passenger windows. AB863 is a response to the passage of SB109 in the wake of the May 4, 2013 stretch limousine fire on the San Mateo Bridge near San Francisco that resulted in the deaths of five women out on a bachelorette party.
The Assembly has passed AB863 76-0, and the State Senate takes up the measure during hearings in June.
On AB24 and other measures, Kinney reminded members that the GCLA does not want to put TNCs out of business, but make sure they compete in the marketplace with the same rules as charter-party carriers. "Everyone here is at an economic disadvantage becasue of the way the rules are now," he said. "We have a large number of [measures] on the agenda and we are spending many hours to represent you and the industry."
Kinney works in Sacramento with GCLA board directors and operators Christopher Quinn and Gary Buffo, who is also the President of the National Limousine Association.
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