WATSONVILLE — The Watsonville City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a rate increase for taxicab services.
The new rates are as follows:
• Initial drop charge: $4.50 ($4 previous)
• Mile rate: $3.50 ($3)
• Hourly waiting time: $42 ($40)
• Minimum service charge: $8.50 ($7)
• Special equipped vehicle minimum service charge: $20
• 10 percent discount for seniors
The increase came at the request of Watsonville Transportation Inc. CEO Richard Camperud, who said the upward bumps were to help drivers become more competitive with drive-share services like Uber and Lift, as well as deal with the increased cost of living and gas.
“Our drivers have absorbed all the costs,” Camperud said.
The prior rate increase was approved in 2008.
Along with Watsonville Transportation Inc., the Yellow Cab Company, which is the only other taxicab company that works with the City of Watsonville, was also notified of the increases.
City staff is expected to return to the council later this year with other proposed changes to the city’s municipal code that could further help taxicab drivers, a move that all council members lauded.
The council also decided to pull a housing resolution from its consent agenda for further deliberation.
The resolution, which was proposed by councilwoman Rebecca Garcia, asked the council to support reasonable rent increases, just evictions and related housing code enforcement activities.
Representatives from the Santa Cruz County Association of Realtors and California Apartment Association both urged the council for continued cooperation as the city moves forward in drafting housing ordinances.
The council’s approval of the resolution authorized city staff to participate in outreach and promotional efforts in order to engage community partners, local landlords, employers and developers to increase and maintain workforce housing.
Last year, the council approved a strategic plan for 2018-20 that identified housing as its top priority. That plan is a roadmap for city staff to follow while it develops avenues for housing.
The council also OK’d the construction of an 11,273-square-foot medical office at 5 Nielson St. and 58 Hangar Way.
The approved office, set to be built in an empty lot just a short walk from Watsonville Community Hospital, will house a dialysis clinic, which several council members said was a much-needed asset in South County.
The applicant said the clinic would provide roughly 15-20 full-time jobs.