Taxi stand ordinance in city council stuck in neutral

Atlanta city councilman Michael Julian Bond says he’s outraged that he can’t a transportation committee to act on an ordinance requiring organizers of large festivals and events to set up cab stands that could cut down on drunk driving and muggings.

That such an ordinance should receive a green light from the committee is a “no-brainer,” he said.

Bond wants to mandate that all of the city’s Class A festivals and events, which draw in excess of 50,000 people, set aside designated areas and lanes for taxicabs. He said that would streamline traffic following massive events, help cut out on drunk driving and stop festival goers from filtering into adjoining neighborhoods to fetch cabs, where they run the risk of getting lost or mugged.

The city council transportation committee can recommend that the full council passes or rejects ordinances. But at the last two committee meetings, the members first failed to take action, then weren’t prepared to vote because they couldn’t get a quorum.

“I am really at a loss for words about why they are not moving forward on this. I am mystified,” Bond said. “They are making a mountain out of this when it is nothing but a molehill.”

Bond introduced the idea at the July 5 city council meeting.

The following week, it was discussed in the transportation committee and held for questions.

Last week, Bond again showed up at the committee meeting to pitch his case. But again, there was no vote.

Committee chair Yolanda Adrean argued that there were not enough members present to vote.

“I am disappointed that having been asked to come back – after the first hearing and answering all of their questions – that the chair was not better prepared to handle the situation,” Bond said. “It is less about politics and more about treating your colleagues collegially. You should probably treat your colleagues with a little more courtesy.”

Keisha Lance Bottoms and Kwanza Hall were not in attendance at the last meeting. Carla Smith and C.T Martin left early. Adrean offered to go find Smith, but a frustrated Bond exited the podium. Adrean could not be reached Monday.

Smith said Monday that someone could have easily come and gotten her for a vote. She said she left the meeting because she thought all of the business had been taken care of and she had to attend another meeting.

Felicia Moore and Joyce Sheperd both said they were prepared to vote.

Smith said Monday that she is uncomfortable forcing festival organizers to do something that several of them do voluntarily.

“Maybe if (Bond) would explain to us what is motivating him? Is there a festival coming up?” Smith said. “I don’t see what the rush is.”

The next big event in the city will be the Tour Championship by Coca Cola at East Lake Golf Club Sept. 21-25. But the next major event in the heart of the city will be the Atlanta Pride Festival beginning Oct. 8 at Piedmont Park.

Jamie Fergerson, executive director for Atlanta Pride, said her organization is considering creating designated taxi areas for this year’s festival to be “better neighbors” during the event and to be “environmentally friendly.”

“It is something that we are investigating for this year,” said Fergerson, who would want to set something up on Piedmont Avenue. “We do support the idea of increasing alternate transportation.”

The next transportation committee meeting will be Aug. 24.

“I have passed a lot of legislation. I am used to shuffling papers, but I am not used to the treatment that I have gotten … with this committee,” Bond said. “This has been odd.”

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