Cops clamp down on illegal cabbies

Gary Moskowitz

Using five undercover officers, Glendale Police this week put the

sting on "gypsy" cab companies working in Glendale without licenses,

nabbing two drivers.

Police have had complaints from residents and licensed cab

companies about unlicensed cabbies. One complaint came from a man who

was in an accident while riding in a cab, but when he made an

insurance claim, he found out the company was not licensed in

Glendale, Glendale Police Investigator Matt Gunnell said.

Several licensed cab companies have also called the city clerk and

police, complaining that unlicensed companies are usurping their

business and not following city rules, Gunnell said.

City law requires cab companies to be licensed, and show proof of

their license by displaying one decal on the left rear bumper of the

cab and a vehicle license decal in the center of the vehicle.

Driving unlicensed cabs in Glendale is a misdemeanor, and drivers

of those cabs can be given a citation.

"We are going to step up enforcement of gypsy cabs," Gunnell said

Thursday. "Sometimes things don't get addressed unless complaints

come in, which they have. But if we do it just once and back off,

then it's not going to be effective.

"You know a cab is licensed because there are two diamond-shaped

seal decals in the center of cab, with a city of Glendale seal on the

doors. A sticker with the year on it should say 2004," Gunnell said.

During Wednesday's sting, five undercover officers called for cabs

from the Glendale-based Northwest Yellow Cab and the Los

Angeles-based LA Yellow Cab, two cab companies named in complaints.

Once the undercover officer got into two Northwest Yellow Cab cars

and the meter started running, motorcycle officers stopped the

drivers. One driver was issued a citation for operating an unlicensed

cab in Glendale. The second driver was pulled over and arrested on

suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, having several

syringes and being under the influence of heroin, officials said.

Police said they called LA Yellow Cab but no cabs responded,

saying they don't serve Glendale.

Glendale Municipal Code states that taxicabs cannot be more than 8

years old and all must pass an annual safety and compliance

inspection and certification by the city clerk. In addition, cabs

must pass an inspection by a city-approved mechanic. According to

city code, cab owners' permits cost $475, a vehicle inspection fee is

$50, an annual license fee is $100, an annual driver permit

application fee is $70 and a late penalty fee is $20.

Harry Semirjyan, the owner of Northwest Yellow Cab, said his

company, although based in Glendale, typically only operates in Santa

Monica.

The driver who was arrested was new to the company, and Semirjyan

said he did not know him.

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