Airport Permitting Hassles Add Up To Multiple Furies

Jim Luff
Posted on March 19, 2013

Why do government bureaucrats make things as difficult as possible?
I have just concluded renewing our authority to operate at Los Angeles World Airports, which oversees several airports including LAX. I actually thought that I was done with the renewal process last August when I completed my paperwork and mailed my check for $150. I followed the instructions on the form to the letter. I also paid our City of Los Angeles business license tax in January. I have long been disgusted with the fact that we have to pay for a City of Los Angeles business license even though our business office is located 75 miles outside the city limits.

In the view of the city's view, it feels we are “conducting business” at its airport so we must have a business license. That is ridiculous! Can you imagine if every city you picked up a passenger in required you to have a business license? The fees for each city would quickly add up. It reminds me of a decade ago when California State Assemblyman Mark Leno, now a State Senator, introduced a bill that would allow all city municipalities to regulate limousines. Our front windshields would have resembled a Monopoly Board with all the different colored decals that might have been issued. Thank goodness the Greater California Livery Association’s lobbyist got the California Public Utilities Commission to side with our industry and determine that our licenses were issued by the state and therefore the state had regulatory authority over us.

Now, if we could just get the same opinion for the various airport authorities that we must deal with. At our company, we have to apply for separate authority for LAX and the Long Beach International Airport. Thankfully, our local airport bends over backwards to accommodate us. The only thing required by our airport is an airport badge/swipe card, and those are used to open gates to pick up planeside at private (FBO) facilities and they eagerly issue them to us.

I had a chauffeur who did a pickup at LAX early this month and he was given a written notice that said the current permit on our car would no longer be accepted after the next TWO DAYS, and we would be “locked out” of the airport. This was two days to get our entire fleet to LAX to have a decal put on! In the past, when LAX decided to change the color of its permit, they would mail them to us. Now, we must deliver each vehicle to Los Angeles to have LAX officials place the decals on the cars themselves. Not only is there the expense of paying a chauffeur to drive to Los Angeles and back. but there is also the fuel. To add insult to injury, LAX has decided to upgrade its transponders at a cost of $50 per vehicle that I also had to pay. I guess we are not smart enough to peel the backing off a decal and affix it. I can only imagine the expense for an operator such as Deena Papagni of Fresno.
As if all this hassle wasn’t enough, the minions who schedule the appointments are the most inconsiderate, rude government employees that I have ever met. The office is permeated by a general attitude that callers are a complete disruption of their jobs.  When I called to make an appointment, I was treated like it was such a hassle on their part. Appointment times are inflexible. I think the employee I dealt with purposely gave me appointment times such as 8:30 a.m., knowing a chauffeur would have to leave Bakersfield by 5:30 or 6:00 to be there on time.

What are you going to do? They make the rules and we must play by the rules, even if it costs $6,467 to get the job done. What do they care? I’m still unclear on why we have to pay $4 every time we go to the airport. Think about that for a minute: Let’s just say that 300 license livery vehicles use the airport every day. That is $438,000 in income to the airport for merely driving on their property. LAX is getting rich off the backs of livery operators!

— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

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