OCEAN CITY – Once again, the town has found itself needing to sit down with representatives of Ocean City’s taxi cab industry to find a solution when it comes to parking cabs on public streets.
Last month Dead Freddies co-owner Steve Carullo presented the Police Commission with his concerns over out-of-service taxi cabs parking on 64th Street where the restaurant is located.
According to Carullo, there are about 60 parking spaces on 64th Street and on any given day there are 20 to 30 taxi cabs taking up the parking spaces that are available to customers of nearby businesses and the public at large.
Carullo added to Dead Freddies’ patrons dismay the restaurant’s bayfront view is being blocked by taxi cabs that now have not only become a nuisance but an eye sore.
At that time Mayor Rick Meehan said Carullo had a valid complaint and asked for the matter to be discussed with City Solicitor Guy Ayres.
Meehan pointed out it could become a sensitive subject as the town does not regulate any other commercial vehicles from being parked on city streets while not in service. However, the town code requires businesses to have a certain percentage of on-premise parking, except for taxi cabs as they usually don’t operate out of one location.
During this week’s Police Commission meeting, Ayres was present to discuss the matter.
“If you made it part of the taxi cab ordinance to provide parking for their cabs, in the end what are you doing other than putting them out of business,” Ayres said. “It’s a discussion you ought to have with the cab companies.”
Ayres furthered it is legitimate to require businesses to have on-premise parking but acknowledged taxi cab companies are not the type of business to operate out of an office.
“Even if you push them to West Ocean City or somewhere out in the county, real estate still costs money,” Ayres said. “It is going to be costly to them, and that cost will eventually be passed onto the customer. The question to you all is, is it in the best interest of the public to make a requirement of the cab industry that seems to me would tremendously increase their cost of operation.”
Meehan clarified, at this time the town is not moving forward in inserting a parking requirement in the city’s laws regarding taxi cabs.
“We are just asking you with regards to the ordinance is their anyway we can alleviate the problem of having large numbers of cabs parking on the streets,” he said.
Ayres responded the way to alleviate taxi cabs from taking up parking on city streets is to in fact amend the taxi cab ordinance to require taxi cab companies with a large fleet to provide some type of on-premise parking.
“Or can it just be that cabs that are not in service cannot be parked on city streets,” the mayor asked.
By doing that, the town would become discriminatory against the taxi cab industry, Ayres explained, by allowing other commercial vehicles to be parked on city streets but not taxi cabs.
“Which is not our intention at all,” the mayor said.
Since the issue was brought up last month, Council President Lloyd Martin was approached by the owner of the majority of the taxi cabs parked on 64th Street over the possibility of renting parking spaces from the town to help alleviate the problem.
“There is no simple answer,” Meehan concluded. “The best thing to do is talk to the cab companies to try to find a solution.”
The Police Commission was in consensus to gather representatives from the taxi cab industry in Ocean City to discuss the issue and attempt to come up with a solution.