City of Santa Monica – Santa Monica, CA

Santa Monica Taxicab Service and Regulation Study

Plagued by an open-entry system with few rules compared to nearby jurisdictions, Santa Monica was experiencing an oversupply of taxi cabs, confusion for customers, and numerous cabs without effective dispatch or supervision competing for scarce downtown taxi zones. The City wanted to improve taxi service, reduce harmful emissions from cabs, and increase the vitality of the taxi industry.

Nelson\Nygaard reviewed the City’s existing taxicab regulation system and developed three alternative approaches. Each approach included regulations for companies, individual drivers, and vehicles; measures to avoid an oversupply of cabs; stricter standards for drivers, vehicles, dispatching, and vehicle markings; and requirements for low-emission vehicles.

The preferred approach called for the City to conduct an RFP process and award franchises with flexible limits to the number of “full-time equivalent” taxicabs in the city, taking into account the fact that many taxicabs also operate in the neighboring—and much larger—Los Angeles market. The city council approved ordinance changes to implement Nelson\Nygaard’s recommendations.