The new Oakland City Council on Tuesday will consider reversing a major fee reduction for taxi companies.
At a lame duck session in December, the City Council, which included three outgoing members, voted 5-4 to lower taxi fees from $1,019 to $519. The council majority included Ignacio De La Fuente and Jane Brunner, who are now off the council.
Brunner's successor, Dan Kalb, asked the council to reconsider the issue last month.
Opponents of the fee decrease argued that it was a giveaway to politically active industry barons that wouldn't help drivers, who pay weekly fees of up to $575 to use the taxis.
The council approved increasing the taxi vehicle permit fee from $25 to $1,019 in 2011 to fully cover the cost of managing the taxi program after years of subsidizing the industry.
In a report released Friday, assistant city administrator Arturo Sanchez warned the council that cutting the fee in half would result in the city once again subsidizing taxi companies "at a time when the city's five-year budget forecasts a continued structural deficit."
Council members Desley Brooks, Rebecca Kaplan and Larry Reid all supported the fee reduction last year. Councilman Noel Gallo, who took over for De la Fuente, said this week that he also planned to support cutting the fees in half.
Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who also wasn't on the council in December, said she hadn't decided how she would vote, although she opposes any public subsidy for taxi companies. "I think the fees should fully recover the costs," she said.
If the council deadlocks on the vote, Mayor Jean Quan would be asked to break the tie.
Applicants sought for Fremont commission
Fremont's new Environmental Sustainability Commission was former Mayor Gus Morrison's baby but new Mayor Bill Harrison -- who was not a Morrison ally -- will have the most say on who will be its first members. Morrison spearheaded the commission's creation in the final months of his interim term last year, during which he endorsed Anu Natarajan in the mayor's race -- not Harrison, the eventual winner.
The item returns Tuesday to the City Council for a final vote, which will establish the commission as the council's advisory body on policy issues related to environmental sustainability and the city's Climate Action Plan.
Now all it needs is some commissioners. The panel will have up to seven members, including a student and a representative from the Fremont business community, an environmental organization and the development/construction industry. Remaining seats will be open to community members at large.
"Historically, what we've done is have the mayor make the recommendations and then the council approves them," City Clerk Nadine Nader said. "Since I've been here, it hasn't happened yet that they haven't approved (the mayor's recommendations)."
The City Council hopes to approve new members by mid-March so that the commission can hold the first of its quarterly meetings no later than early April.
For more information on applying to the commission, go to www.fremont.gov or call 510-284-4060.