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Taxi company sues county

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Beach Cities Taxi is suing the San Luis Obispo County for $500,000 in damages for canceling a permit that allows it to take customers to the San Luis Obispo County regional airport. The company alleges their permit was improperly terminated.

The taxi company’s permit was pulled a year ago when, according to Richard Howell, general manager of the airport, it was discovered that the company’s insurance had twice been dropped by its carrier. Beach Cities Taxi’s owner denied the company was ever without insurance and said all the permit requirements were satisfied.

“They got a letter saying my insurance was dropped by mistake,” said Jeff Goldenberg, owner of Beach Cities Taxi. “My underwriter, my insurance company, and my agent wrote the airport manager saying it was a mistake and that we never were without insurance.”

He also said the county didn’t give him the required 30-day notice before pulling his permit.

Howell sees things differently.

“It’s simply a public safety issue,” he said. “It’s not just the insurance. They failed to file safety certificates, and we also had complaints from the public about them.”

Goldenberg said his cars are safe; he said if they weren’t, they couldn’t have passed the San Luis Obispo City vehicle checks required to do business in the city.

The company’s drivers have been seen dropping their customers off at the edge of the airport property. The taxi company has been fined $9,000 in tickets for dropping off passengers without an airport taxi permit.

“How can we be fined for dropping off people at a public place?” he asked. “Taxi companies from other parts of California drop off passengers without being fined. This feels like a vendetta against me.”

Howell said because of the difficulties the county has had with Beach Cities Taxi, the County Council and the General Services Department management decided they won’t be renewing the Beach Cities Taxi permit.

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