The City of Thousand Oaks Police Department has just released the following. Thousand Oaks requires taxi drives to have a city permit. Of the drivers contacted, half were operating illegally in Thousand Oaks. Licensed drivers are screened for controlled substance abuse and undergo a complete background check. In addition, illegal taxi services may not have a properly working taximeter.
Licenses taxicab drivers are required to display a sticker (for the current year) and their personal operator’s license (see pictures below for the Thousand Oaks ones).
The City of Westlake Village falls under the County of Los Angeles licensing for taxis (the LA County code is included “by reference” into the City’s Municipal Code). Like Thousand Oaks, the County (including the City of Westlake Village) require taxicab operator to “procure a license and pay an annual license fee”, and taxicab drivers need to display a vehicle permit affixed to the rear portion of the taxicab.
The City of Agoura Hills also falls under the County of Los Angeles licensing.
On November 19, 2011, members of the Thousand Oaks Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) Unit conducted an undercover investigation focusing on unlicensed taxicab drivers operating illegally in the City of Thousand Oaks. The Thousand Oaks City Ordinance requires taxicab drivers to obtain a city permit prior to operating as a taxicab service.
An undercover officer posing as a potential customer contacted numerous taxicab drivers. Once it was confirmed that the driver was in fact operating a taxicab service and providing transportation for a fee, back up officers moved in and detained the driver while they checked for various licensing requirements.
Out of the eight drivers contacted, four were found to be operating illegally in Thousand Oaks. The drivers were arrested for the Thousand Oaks City Ordinance governing taxicab services. Ricardo Ramirez of Thousand Oaks was also arrested for operating a motor vehicle without a California Drivers License. Another driver was operating a City Cab vehicle. City Cab has not had a valid city license since 2006 and the arrestees cabdriver permit had expired in 2007. The three other drivers were operating the cab service in their personal vehicles, which included a Honda, Volkswagen and a Lincoln.
During the Thousand Oaks City permit application process, drivers are screened for controlled substance abuse and undergo a complete background check. The applicants are tested for controlled substances and alcohol in accordance with Government Code Section 53075.5(b)(3). Approved operators are also periodically tested.
The background checks confirm that the driver has a valid drivers license and search for driving under the influence or reckless driving arrests. Applicants are also required to submit proof of auto insurance. An applicant for an owners license must present a certificate of inspection from the California Highway Patrol indicating that the vehicles brakes and lights are in safe condition and good working order.
There is an inherent risk to the public associated with these illegal taxicab services when they circumvent the application process. Without the screening process, the public may hire a taxicab driver that does not have a valid drivers license, is uninsured, or is driving under the influence. The vehicle itself could be unsanitary or unsafe for passengers.
There is also an added financial risk. Since the illegal taxicab services rarely have the required taximeter, which correctly computes and indicates the amount charged, distance traveled, or time elapsed, the passenger can also be subject to overcharging or fraud.
The public is encouraged to protect themselves and confirm the legitimacy of a taxicab service before getting into the vehicle. Potential customers should notice if the rates of fare are posted. The Thousand Oaks Ordinance requires that every taxicab shall clearly display the rates of fare charged for carrying passengers. The sign should also display the owners name or the fictitious name under which he or she operates, the business address and telephone number of such owner, and the license number furnished by the Chief of Police.
All taxicab services picking up passengers in Thousand Oaks are also required to have a City of Thousand Oaks Vehicle License sticker for the current year affixed to the rear window of the vehicle. (SEE ATTACHED IMAGE) Each taxicab operator is also required to prominently display his or her taxicab operators license inside vehicle. (SEE ATTACHED IMAGE)