The San Diego City Council on Tuesday voted 8 to 0 to greatly reduce the number of pedicabs prowling downtown streets.
The council voted to limit the number of annual pedicab permits to 250. In 2008, 643 permits were issued, and in the first six months of this year, 426.
City officials are concerned that an overabundance of pedicabs has led to dangerous driving as pedicab operators hustle to pick up tourists. The pedicab drivers complain that they are unable to make a living because there are too many cabs, The Los Angeles Times reports.
By a unanimous vote, the council also approved a long list of changes that it says will improve safety and protect consumers. Council members also made clear that they are not done cracking down on the industry and will have city staff study more measures to improve oversight.
“This is a really good start. People are going to be made safer. And people aren't going to be taken advantage of as they have been in the past,” Councilman Tony Young said, The San Diego Union Tribune reports.
Meanwhile pedicab operators contended the new regulations will not solve the problem, which they argued is the proliferation of drivers recruited from other countries and here on temporary work visas.
"These proposed changes are merely going to be a Band-Aid on a gushing wound of a problem," Shane Frazier testified.
Operators argued that the city should consider an operator permit cap, not just limit the number of pedicabs. There was also concern expressed about creating a monopoly.
Others said limiting pedicabs to roads with a speed limit under 25-mile-per-hour would make it difficult to get to destinations.
Steven Johnson, vice president of public affairs for the San Diego Convention Center Corp., testified that there are significant public safety issues related to pedicabs.
"The recent pedicab fatality of an out-of-town visitor attending the National Education Association's annual meeting at the Convention Center is a tragic example, but only the latest in a series of pedicab-related accidents that have impacted our guests," Johnson said, KFMB reports.