The recent Matt Hurlbutt tragedy has shed light on an important issue facing the university — the need for designated driver programs. Public transportation is limited, and the service of local cab companies can literally mean life or death for intoxicated students.
But the local government doesn’t seem to make such services a priority, and has targeted one taxi company in particular — a company that has been there for Poly students for the last 10 years.
As some students may recall, Cal Poly once had a convenient and inexpensive shuttle service that safely transported students through the wee hours of the morning. When the county-subsidized Ride-On program abruptly ended its designated driver shuttle program in March of 2006, Beach Cities Cab Company immediately stepped up to the plate and partnered with Associated Students Incorporated in order to properly service students.
Owner Jeff Goldenberg worked with the county and San Luis Obispo Police Department to establish taxi stands and followed all the county regulations for this type of program. These vans operated Thursday through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. at a special reduced student rate. The program was such a success that Goldenberg had to purchase a second van for the program. Sound too good to be true?
Well, apparently it was for the City of San Luis Obispo, and when a new transportation manager took over, the program was suddenly canceled, even though Goldenberg had previously received city and county approval. So long, designated driver programs.
And if it wasn’t enough that Goldenberg never had the chance to recoup his investment in his second van, the county has now unjustly targeted him through his services at the San Luis Obispo Regional Airport.
It all started in April of 2009, when the county mistakenly received a notice from Goldenberg’s insurance company stating that his insurance had been canceled. Richard Howell of the San Luis Obispo Regional Airport responded with a letter declaring the termination of his contract with the airport. Even though Goldenberg’s insurance agent immediately confirmed the active status of his insurance, Howell highlighted several other false excuses for the cancellation, and declined to reinstate the contract.
But it doesn’t end there. Goldenberg, by law, has every right to drop off passengers to the airport, just like any other individual or taxi company. Yet, every time he has dropped off a passenger, he has been cited and has accrued a total of $8,000 in these fines. And of course, the airport heads have refused to grant him any time for a proper hearing.
Even worse, one of the airport employees writing the tickets allegedly works for a competing taxi company. Can you say “conflict of interest?”
To be sure, Goldenberg is not a greedy, self-interested capitalist; just like many Americans, he is a single parent who is just trying to properly serve his community and earn a modest living amidst these troublesome economic pressures.
The airport once provided him with financial stability in an unstable economy, but with this source of income completely restricted, Goldenberg’s business and livelihood is in jeopardy. Significant cutbacks have hindered his ability to service our community, and yet no one has offered him any support. Even our San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill refused to have any part in this critical issue.
Please join the fight against this despicable injustice and blatant corruption directed at a man who has been a true friend to our university and to the entire community. The city and county comprehend the efficiency of local business partnerships, but instead of fostering these critical relationships, they are killing our local business supporters.
Our city and county ultimately depend on Cal Poly students for revenue; why aren’t they looking out for our best interests in return?
Without the support of community-minded entrepreneurs like Goldenberg, the lives of our fellow students may continue to be at risk. As the failure of Ride-On demonstrates, we cannot continue to rely on after-hours county-subsidized transportation. The city and county need to stop attacking this innocent business and reinstate a private-based shuttle service program.
I encourage you to contact Hill (firstname.lastname@example.org) and persuade him to address this issue without delay. The safety of you or your friends could very well depend on it.