Kenner delays decision on new taxi rules

Kenner’s new guidelines for taxicabs will be deferred another month as the city’s politicians still have not had enough time to review final draft of the sweeping overhaul of the rules.

The Kenner City Council again delayed a decision on the new rules mainly because a final draft of the ordinance that would govern taxicabs has not been given to the council, Councilwoman Maria Defrancesch said. She said the council has been given several short summaries regarding what the ordinance would contain, but the final 60-page version is still not complete. The councilwoman said she doesn’t want to pass an ordinance that will need to be constantly revised in the near future.

“Although we have a summary of each of those sections, we have never been able to get up to this point a copy of the entire 60-pages that will make up the new ordinance,” Defrancesch said. “I believe it’s inappropriate and totally wrong to vote on something unless you have a copy of it.”

Last month the council extended its ban on the issuance of any new taxicab licenses because officials said they just needed to tweak a few final details in the agreement. Kenner has refused to issue new taxicab licenses for more than two years while city officials completed an overhaul of the ordinance. While the process has seemed extended, Defrancesch said it has included several stops and starts.

She said that city put the changes on hold when the airport was going through the process of changing directors, and New Orleans’ recent decision to overhaul its taxicab rules also delayed a decision. Defrancesch said that Kenner can’t just change its rules in a vacuum and must discuss any new guidelines with New Orleans, Jefferson Parish and the airport.

“If it were just a Kenner issue, we could move much more quickly,” she said.

Kenner’s new rules will closely resemble the guidelines adopted by New Orleans that require credit card machines, cameras and other equipment in taxis. Kenner also will require drivers to purchase new vehicles every nine years, although there are provisions to allow some vehicles to be on the road longer than that.

One of the changes Kenner has discussed is a cap on how many licenses will be available in the city. Councilman Kent Denapolis has suggested setting that cap around 300 licenses and hopes to reduce the total in the city through attrition. That cap is a reaction to attempts by a New Orleans company to flood the city with licenses immediately after the new rules in New Orleans were announced, Denapolis has said.

However, Defrancesch said some of the delay in developing a new ordinance has been related to deciding which of the New Orleans rules to adopt and which ones to avoid. For example, New Orleans limits its drivers to contracting with four credit companies for the equipment, but Kenner wants to open the process to more companies to let drivers get better prices, Defrancesch said. Changes also need to be made to disallow sound recordings in cabs, she said, and to determine handicapped access to the vehicles.

“It’s not going to be substantial differences,” she said. “There are going to be those differences that make it viable for our drivers.”