Berkeley is a small business town. Here, there are few major chains and no huge department stores — instead, local businesses dominate the commercial atmosphere.Therefore, it is crucial that the city continues to support small businesses and foster their growth.
Taxis drivers who hold licenses to operate in Berkeley fall under this category. They provide a vital service — one the city should encourage and protect in every way possible. Yet drivers have a storied history of grievances with their local government. Most recently, taxi drivers are trying to convince the city to end a practice called “triple jeopardy” in which taxis can be cited all at once for blocking public streets, not parking in accordance with designated signs and not parking in a marked zone during the day.
Punishing taxis that way is ridiculous. Multiple fines for similar violations should not be imposed on drivers at the same time. It is a single violation and should be one punishment. Thankfully, the council decided on Tuesday night to refer an item to the city manager that would establish a policy issuing only one citation in such situations. The council’s action is a good sign, and it needs to produce results. Triple jeopardy must end.
If Berkeley wishes to live up to its values as a city that prioritizes small business, then local officials will ensure this policy is created. Ending triple jeopardy will also dovetail other actions the city has taken to help local taxi drivers. Last year, the council adopted reforms to its taxi policies that included adding new taxi stands and raising the price of the flag drop rate.
And according to city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, officials have been working with the community to look out for taxis that are not permitted to operate in Berkeley — a major concern of local taxi drivers. There is more work to be done, but the city is moving in the right direction.