San Luis ends restrictions on taxis at the border
SAN LUIS, Ariz. – Lifting restrictions in effect more than three years ago, this city will allow any number of taxi cabs to operate along the border without special conditions.
The San Luis City Council voted unanimously recently to eliminate from the city code a section allowing up to 35 taxi cabs with special permits issued by the city to park and pick up fares next to the U.S. Port of Entry.
The ordinance, which went into effect in December 2019, also allowed only cab companies with offices in San Luis to get the permits and to have up to five cabs apiece at the border.
Mayor Nieves Riedel sought the vote by the council to kill the restrictions. “I asked that it be eliminated so that everyone could have the same opportunity to work there,” she said. “Every person should have the same rights. We should not be denying them that.”
The prior city council had approved the restrictions in efforts to ease traffic congestion and minimize the risk of vehicle accidents in area at the border that city officials expect will become only more congested once work begins to expand the San Luis I port of entry.
But taxi drivers complained that the restrictions favored a few cab companies at the expense of majority who could no longer work in one of the most lucrative areas in the city, where pedestrians crossing the border from Mexico seeking rides.
“There was no time for us to prepare. I’m happy that they have (dropped the regulations) because we can now go back to the time when we could all work there,” said Jesusa Becker, who operated taxis with her husband.
When the restrictions went into effect, the couple could not get the required permit from the city, she said.
“My husband and I have had our business for 18
years, and overnight we were paralyzed” when the restrictions were adopted. “We had three taxis, and now we have only one. I have been out of work for two years. We were hurt because we live on (taxi fares) and our income got cut.”
Elizabeth Luera, another taxi driver who also could not get a permit, welcomed the end of the restrictions.
“I only asked that we all be treated be equally, that there be no differences. We all live here, we pay the light bill and the water bill.”
While the council voted unanimously to end the limits, some members raised concerns about the effect on future traffic along the border.
“If we remove this, we are going to have to figure out how to control the quantity of taxis in the area and the traffic we will be creating,” Councilman Matias Rosales.
Vice Mayor Luis Cabrera urged taxi drivers to respect traffic laws and to pick up and drop off fares only in permitted areas.
In other action, the council declined to support a proposal by Riedel to approve a two-year contract with Juan Manuel Guerrero, justice of the peace in south Yuma County, to serve in the additional role as San Luis municipal judge.
Nohemy Echavarria recently resigned as city judge, and the Yuma County Superior Court has assigned a temporary judge to fill in in the position.
The state Constitution allows one person to serve in the dual roles of justice of the peace and municipal judge. But given the workload, Councilwoman Gloria Torres said she favored recruiting a full-time judge for city court.
Other council members said they likewise favored recruiting applicants for municipal judge.
Riedel said she proposed contracting Guerrero owing to his experience on the bench, having served as justice of the peace and in a previous stint as municipal judge.