Regulations

California Operators Close Out A Breakthrough Year

Martin Romjue
Posted on December 4, 2019
Carlos Garcia and Nancy Garcia of Carlos Transportation Service of Los Angeles capture the seasonal spirit with new LCT general manager Jim Luff during the annual Greater California Livery Association's holiday meeting and party at The Proud Bird in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. GCLA board director Don Mahnke added to the mirth in the background. (LCT photo)

Carlos Garcia and Nancy Garcia of Carlos Transportation Service of Los Angeles capture the seasonal spirit with new LCT general manager Jim Luff during the annual Greater California Livery Association's holiday meeting and party at The Proud Bird in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. GCLA board director Don Mahnke added to the mirth in the background. (LCT photo)

LOS ANGELES — The annual season of gratitude took on added meaning for the Greater California Livery Association as it recapped three major legislative and regulatory victories at its Dec. 3 holiday event, wrapping up one of the most successful years since it was founded in 1989.

2019 brought a lifeline for the state’s luxury ground transportation industry at LAX; saw the passage of a bill that finally requires transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft to meet a stricter labor standard defining employees versus independent contractors; and the suspension of quarterly state fees levied on operations.

LAX Livelihoods

Chauffeured limousine operations serving LAX got to keep their access to the central terminal area starting Oct. 29 that resulted from years of consultations between the GCLA and Advocates for Fairness in Transportation (AFT) and airport and city officials at LAX.

LCT background articles: Leg-Reg Roundup

“This partnership between our two organizations has been very beneficial and has been providing value to all the operators permitted at LAX who can still continue operating in the CTA,” GCLA legislative director Mark Stewart told an assembled dinner crowd of about 200 people at The Proud Bird in Los Angeles. “The key for us in this partnership was being able to work with LAX and keep the status quo of being able to drop off clients and meet them in baggage claim. This partnership has really been able to provide the value for all of our operators.”

Taxis and TNCs as of Oct. 29 had to start picking up arriving passengers at a new LAX-it lot next to Terminal 1 that requires riders to take shuttles or walk from airport terminals.

Cheryl Berkman (L) and Jonna Sabroff (R) represented Advocates for Fairness in Transportation which worked with the GCLA to ensure LAX access for operators.

Cheryl Berkman (L) and Jonna Sabroff (R) represented Advocates for Fairness in Transportation which worked with the GCLA to ensure LAX access for operators.

Stewart called out two leaders of AFT attending the event who were instrumental in bringing about the preserved access: Cheryl Berkman, owner and CEO of Music Express of Burbank, and industry business development consultant Jonna Sabroff, a former Los Angeles operator and GCLA leader.

Berkman told attendees AFT and GCLA had worked since 2014 on keeping operator access during the CTA construction period of 2019-2023. She also cited the crucial connections developed by AFT consultant Paul Haney, a former executive at Los Angeles World Airports. “Paul Haney came to AFT four years ago and was discussing differing things LAX was putting on the table. We were able to get in there and start fighting for AFT, and then the GCLA came aboard and started fighting along with us.

“We couldn’t ask for a better outcome, with Uber and Lyft in a different part of LAX,” Berkman said. “We can actually pick our clients up, and they are not taking a tram anywhere.”

Berkman thanked Haney and GCLA lobbyist Gregg Cook for their efforts while urging GCLA members to not let up in their support. “They’ve been tirelessly working behind the scenes every day while we’re trying to keep our doors open and keep our businesses going and successful.

“We have to keep working together. It’s not the end of the fight. But this was I believe the biggest win AFT and the GCLA have had, along with AB5. It’s been a hell of a year for our industry.”

GCLA lobbyist Gregg Cook (L) and GCLA co-legislative director David Kinney summed up the GCLA's successes this year in Sacramento.

GCLA lobbyist Gregg Cook (L) and GCLA co-legislative director David Kinney summed up the GCLA's successes this year in Sacramento.

Next Steps On AB5

GCLA board director and co-legislative director David Kinney recapped the two big state victories this year. Most notably was passage of AB5, the bill that codifies a California State Supreme Court ruling into law and would eventually force TNCs to reclassify their drivers as employees, thereby paying them at least minimum wage with benefits, workers comp, insurance, and other requirements — just as legal, licensed TCP-numbered commercial operations have been doing for years. The bill takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.

“Rideshare companies will fight this and not obey, so we’ll have to see how the fight continues,” Kinney said. “It’s been challenging and frustrating, but a lot of hard work has gone into this.”

Fee Holiday

Kinney also predicted the hefty quarterly state PUCTRA fees levied by the California State Utilities Commission that were suspended in 2019 will continue into 2020. The CPUC has accumulated a vast reserve in the account which it’s now partially spending on added enforcement of ground transportation rules. “This reflects all of our efforts to work with legislators and regulators.”

GCLA legislative director and former president Mark Stewart hosted the holiday event.

GCLA legislative director and former president Mark Stewart hosted the holiday event.

Lobbying Focus

Kinney praised the efforts of GCLA lobbyist Gregg Cook of Government Affairs Consulting, a Sacramento-based firm. "Gregg gets us into appointments to help us change this industry. He helps us fight things that will take us down, and he helps us promote things that will move us forward.”

He cited how Cook’s inroads have enabled the GCLA to develop stronger communication with key state agencies that regulate and monitor the luxury ground transportation industry. “The GCLA has a better relationship with the senior organization of the California Highway Patrol as well as the CPUC than we’ve ever had in our entire life as a group. A lot of it has to do with the work that Gregg has done.”

VIDEO: Jim Luff's first public appearance as LCT general manager.

In related announcements at the meeting:

  • The 2020 GCLA Board of Directors: Mo Garkani, Mark Stewart, Robert Gaskill, Chris Hundley, Jack Nissim, Perry Barin, Maurice Brewster, Don Mahnke, Harry Dhillon, Thomas Buck, Selim Aslan, and Adrian Davis. Vendor directors include Alex Sales, Steve Wood, Jeff Brodsly, and Pat O’Brien. The 2020 president and officers will be elected at a board meeting in January.
  • Donors To The GCLA lobbying fund: Rick Brown, La Costa Limousine ($1,000), Dawson Rutter, Commonwealth Worldwide Executive Transportation ($1,000), A.J. Thurber, Grech Motors ($1,000), Don Mahnke, ABC Worldwide Transportation ($1,000); and Mo Garkani, COTS Group ($1,000); Ron and Brandan Stein, Exclusive Sedan Service ($250).
  • Annual Lobbying Day Sacramento: Will be held in February 2020, with date to be determined.

Related LCT photo gallery: GCLA Holiday Event Celebration 2019

Related Topics: Advocates For Fairness In Transportation, airports, Cheryl Berkman, David Kinney, GCLA, Greater California Livery Association, Gregg Cook, industry leaders, Jonna Sabroff, LAX, legislation, limo associations, lobbying, Mark Stewart, Mo Garkani, networking, Paul Haney, regulatory enforcement, state regulations

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