A divided Turlock City Council ruled to deny a renewal permit for Yellow Cab driver Christopher Duncan Sansom, Sr. at the July 26th Council Meeting, resulting in Turlock not having any active taxi cab drivers.
Mayor John Lazar and Councilwoman Mary Jackson opposed the denial, while Council members Forrest White, Amy Bublak, and Bill DeHart voted to deny the permit.
Sansom was the only active, permitted taxi cab driver for the entire city of Turlock. His permit renewal was up for debate as he received two speeding tickets in one year, violating the City ordinance.
One ticket was received in his taxi, in an area on Golden State Boulevard where the speed quickly changes from 35 to 50 mph. This was the only ticket he received on the job throughout his four years of cab driving. The other ticket was received in his personal car.
Sansom asked Council for some leniency regarding his two tickets, comparing Turlock’s requirements to those in Stockton Manteca and Modesto which are less restrictive.
Previous Chief of Police Gary Hampton suggested Council to stick to the ordinance.
“The standards are becoming more stringent, not less, because of liability,” explained Hampton in regards to taxi cab and tow truck services.
Vice Mayor Bublak agreed, and did not want to make comparisons to other cities.
“We’re the benchmark city,” said Vice Mayor Bublak. “Let’s make sure we keep our standard.”
Sansom said that he cares and worries about many people throughout the community.
“I have lots of customers on dialysis and people with Alzheimer’s, and people that don’t have any other means besides the Yellow Cab,” said Sansom. “I just worry that I am the only driver.”
Mayor Lazar and Councilwoman Jackson agreed that leaving the community without any taxi service would not be a safe move.
“There is a need in our community for this,” said Councilwoman Mary Jackson. “I don’t want to leave our community without taxi service – I don’t think this is the gold standard.”
“It seems kind of silly to put a man out of employment, and not provide the service to our citizens,” said Mayor John Lazar.
However, sticking to the rules of the ordinance dominated the discussion.
“We have specific guidelines as far as what’s in our Municipal Code,” recommended Turlock Police Captain Rob Jackson. “I’m not a big fan of going against that unless there is a dire reason.”
As Hampton recommended Council to stick to the ordinance Tuesday night, a revision to the process for cab permitting will be reviewed in the near future.
Councilmember White questioned why Council approves cab drivers, instead of being delegated to the police department.
He felt that it would be more appropriate for the police department to do so as they do all of the work and research, but must wait for a Council meeting to reach a decision.
“We need cab service, and we have to wait for Council meetings to approve someone to drive somebody home?” questioned White.
City Manager Roy Wasden said that it is an ordinance that needs to be revisited.