Sandoval drives proposal to tow illegal limousines

Limousine drivers illegally stealing fares from taxi cabs in The City, a problem that authorities say is rampant, could have their wheels swept from under them.

Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval said he plans on introducing legislation in the coming weeks that would allow law enforcement to tow any limo illegally operating in The City.

For years, cab drivers have complained that limousines have been dipping into their livelihood by stealing fares illegally. And with the recent increase in cab fees, gas prices and the number of cabs on city streets, the complaints have increased, according to authorities.

Complaints includes hotel doormen receiving cash in exchange for putting guests into limos and limo drivers removing their license plates so they cannot be ticketed or reported.

Under state law, limousine operators can only carry passengers by prearrangement. But they have been known to prowl city streets and illegally pick up people on the street or illegally wait in hotel taxi stands, according to police and cab drivers. Law enforcement currently faces restrictions when it can tow illegal limos, such as only if the driver had received a citation for the offense in the last year, among others.

“Cabdrivers have been begging you for ages to try and figure out what can we do to solve this problem,” cab driver Barry Taranto told a Board of Supervisors committee Thursday during a hearing on limos illegally picking up passengers.

Sandoval, who requested the hearing, said he wants to “eradicate the illegal limousine practices here in San Francisco.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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