GCLA To Redouble Efforts On Key Issues

Posted on December 15, 2011

LOS ANGELES — The Greater California Livery Association wrapped up 2011 on a high note at its holiday general meeting Tuesday night, marking a year-long surge in membership from 140 to 225 operators and vendors.

Airport agenda

Those additional members signed up just in time, however, as the award-winning association now faces a new year with some partial regulatory setbacks that require renewed efforts and unified support:

  • GCLA Officials are planning to meet with representatives of the California Public Utilities Commission to establish a stronger liaison between the association and its regulatory body. These discussions will include collaborating together on new ideas dealing with enforcement and administrative issues that are occurring within the ground transportation industry on a daily basis. In particular, the association needs to address contrasting views within the CPUC on whether stricter green regulations of for-hire vehicles accessing terminals at the San Francisco International Airport can proceed.
  • GCLA officials also plan to meet with airport commissioners at the San Diego International Airport to modify or overturn the Vehicle Conversion program which also includes a rule that limits the age of charter-party ground transportation vehicles to seven years, potentially shutting out half of the limousine and livery vehicles that now legally serve the airport. That rule would take effect Oct. 1, 2012, and any livery vehicles older than seven years would not be able to get renewed airport access permits. Currently the seven rule applies to all operators being issued a first time SAN Operating permit as of May 1, 2011.
  • Authorities at Los Angeles International Airport will be charging a transponder fee of $50 per vehicle due to a new AVI Reader program upon renewal of the  LAX access permit and presently when adding new vehicles. The transponder previously had cost nothing. LAX and GCLA representatives were able to negotiate new 2-Year permits instead of annually.

“The GCLA needs the financial backing so we are fortunate to have a lobbyist, airport consultant and legal team as we protect the 5,150 legal operators in the state from over-regulation by the airports, local and state agencies,” said Rich Azzolino, a GCLA board director and chairman of the group’s legislative committee. He mentioned that the new administration of Gov. Jerry Brown has led to administrative shuffling at the PUC, which is proving disruptive to some of the regulatory progress the GCLA had made with the agency.  

Strong support
To that end, EmpireCLS Owner/CEO and founder David Seelinger pledged to donate a portion of revenues from his new online venture as matching funds to any money the GCLA raises for its legal, lobbying, and consulting efforts. Seelinger told operators that the GCLA “is well on its way” to emerging as a stronger association, and warned of the growing threats of labor-related frivolous lawsuits against chauffeured transportation companies.

Seelinger — a former NLA board director and a founder of a New Jersey limousine association that later evolved into the current Limousine Associations of New Jersey — understands firsthand the urgency for operators to participate in industry associations and support them financially.

EmpireCLS recently experienced another setback on the labor front, as a set of plaintiffs with a lawsuit against the company that was dismissed in federal court are now returning and asking to have 60 individual labor wage claims legally arbitrated. EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services, the largest chauffeured transportation company in the U.S. with all-owned fleet vehicles, already spent $1 million in legal fees defending against the original suit, and now must devote more resources to the fighting the claims, Seelinger said. “We’re back to square one on this. It all comes around again.”

To help educate operators on labor laws and equip them to combat frivolous claims, the GCLA started sponsoring labor seminars this year, and plans to hold its second annual series in San Francisco in June 2012.

In other GCLA-related developments Tuesday eveing:

  • Seelinger promoted the launch of, a online resource for operators to sell time on unused chauffeured vehicle. The site does not charge any fees, and operators are welcome to upload either discounted specials or any rack rates they choose.

Related article: Launches

  • Diva Limousine of Los Angeles, whose CEO, Bijan Zoughi, is a GCLA board member, texted GCLA President Mark Stewart during the meeting that it plans to donate $5,000 for the group’s legal and lobbying funds.
  • GCLA President Mark Stewart urged operators to incentivize more membership by pledging to only affiliate and do business with other California operators who are GCLA members. The association represents the entire industry throughout California and needs to draw upon everyone’s support, he said.
  • The GCLA’s consultant, Paul Haney of the government relations and strategic communications firm of Englander Knabe & Allen in Los Angeles, reported an interesting fact: Limousine/livery vehicles supply only 2% to 3% of all ground transportation trips into and out of LAX, but chauffeured clients provide about 15% of all revenue to the airlines serving LAX.

Association honors

  • Jonna Sabroff, a former GCLA First Vice President and board director, received the group’s highest honor, the GCLA Lifetime Achievement Award. Sabroff, the co-owner and CEO of Integrated Transportation Services (ITS) of Los Angeles, served on the board for four years and has been instrumental in helping the association strategize and communicate on legislative and regulatory issues.
  • Christopher Quinn, also a former First Vice President, received the GCLA’s Outstanding Service Award for his leadership contributions to the organization. Quinn is the owner and CEO of Corporate Transportation Solutions (CTS) of Sacramento, a 2009 LCT Operator Of The Year Award winner.

2012 GCLA Leadership

During a meeting before the holiday event, the GCLA 2011 officers and board directors met to elect and select the slate for 2012:


Mark Stewart
Blue Moon Limousines
Costa Mesa, CA

1st Vice President:
Rod Rave
Empire CLS
Los Angeles, CA

2nd Vice President
Kevin Ilingworth
Classique Limousines
Orange, CA

Jack Nissim
AMS Pacific Limousine & Transportation
Beverly Hills, CA

Jorge Rodriguez
Lifestyle Transportation
Fallbrook, CA    


San Francisco Bay Region
Gary Buffo
Pure Luxury Transportation
Petaluma, CA
*also an NLA board director

Central Valley Region
Deena Papagni
A Touch of Class Limousines
Fresno, CA
*also an NLA board director

Los Angeles Region
Bijan Zoughi
Diva Limousine Ltd
Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles Region
Scott Ruge
American Luxury Limousines
Thousand Oaks, CA

San Diego Region
Steve Levin
Sterling Rose Transportation
Escondido and Temecula, CA

Sacramento Region
Marc Sievers
Universal Limousine and Transportation
Sacramento, CA

San Francisco Region
Rich Azzolino
Gateway Limousines Worldwide
Burlingame, CA
*also an NLA board director


Steve Wood
South Bay Ford Lincoln Mercury
Hawthorne, CA

Barbara Papp
Universal Limousine Distributors
Star Ford-Lincoln
Glendale, CA

Lee Martinez
Transpo Insurance
Las Vegas, NV

Related Topics: airport rules, airports,, California operators, California Public Utilities Commission, David Seelinger, Empire Coach, GCLA, labor laws

Comments ( 0 )
More Stories