CIVIC CENTER -- A cab company owner who has been aggressively
campaigning to bring his business to Burbank suffered his second defeat
in little more than a year when the City Council rejected his latest bid
After pleading for 20 permits at Tuesday’s meeting, Albert Matthews,
the owner of People’s Taxi Company, sat in shock as the council voted 3-1
to uphold an advisory committee’s ruling on the matter.
Asserting that more competition would benefit customers, Matthews had
asked the council to strip the permits from Tri-City Transportation
Systems, whose cooperative relationship with City Cab -- Burbank’s other
cab company -- he likened to a monopoly.
“I believe that competition will improve the services,” Matthews said
shortly before the vote. “Let the community have a second choice.”
But council members and other city officials disagreed with Matthews
contention, citing a report by the city attorney’s office that found the
two companies to be separate.
Mayor Stacey Murphy left the council chambers shortly before
discussion of the issue. She later said she recused herself because she
has a close relationship with City Cab owner Scott Shaffer.
“One of the principals is a personal friend,” Murphy said Wednesday.
“It could have been a conflict.”
During the discussion, Matthews contended the two companies should be
viewed as one, since they shared dispatch services. That situation, he
said, limits customers’ options.
On Wednesday, Shaffer said Matthews misrepresented the situation.
“That really wasn’t the issue at all,” Shaffer said. “That really was
his defining Waterloo,” he said of the council’s rejection.
City Cab holds 70 permits, while Tri-City holds 75. Both companies are
based in Sun Valley.
Matthews, whose company operates out of Glendale, first applied for
permits at a meeting of the city’s Traffic and Transportation Committee
on May 14, 1998. At that same meeting, City Cab was granted its 70
permits while People’s Taxi Company was denied. Matthews appealed but the
City Council upheld the decision in August 1998.
On June 17, the committee renewed Tri-City’s 75 permits and again
turned down Matthew’s application. Matthews’ appeal of that move was
Councilman Bob Kramer cast the lone dissenting vote Tuesday, saying he
wanted to see more competition in Burbank’s taxi market.