There’s no doubt that driving a taxi is one of the most daunting and unappreciated occupations in Los Angeles. Many of those who sit in cabs for hours taking people from one destination to the next are immigrants seeking to earn money as a stepping stone for a better future. It estimated that about one-third of the taxi drivers in the greater LA area are Armenian immigrants.
As one of the prime markets for taxi service in Southern California, Santa Monica has long been the home for local Armenian businesses and drivers trying to make a living. But that might soon change.
In June, as part of an ordinance to overhaul the taxi system in Santa Monica, the City Hall staff recommended only 5 taxicab companies be allowed to operate in the city. Out of these five companies, none are Armenian owned or operated and only two are locally-based in the city. This, despite the fact that 6 locally-run and experienced Armenian companies put up valid bids for a franchise.
When the local taxi drivers got word of the recommendation, they were shocked and outraged. They staged a protest in front of the City Council the same day that the recommendation was to be voted on (see footage below). Due to the outcry, the City Council members decided to postpone their decision until September.
As it stands, the 7 members on the Council will be the final judge of the fate for the over 250 Armenian taxi drivers and their families who work in Santa Monica. The Armenian companies and drivers have continued to voice their opposition to the recommendation and demand a fairer, more inclusive awarding of the franchises.
It is up to our community to stand behind them in their fight.