Historic City News has learned that beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon, St. Augustine City Commissioners will convene a workshop on the proposed horse-drawn carriage ordinance; followed by a regular commission meeting at 5:00 p.m.
Assistant City Attorney Carlos Mendoza, whose initial effort several weeks ago met with opposition, held a public workshop earlier this week for input from carriage businesses, drivers, animal rights advocates, and residents to craft a new proposal.
Areas that are expected to be addressed include the suggested $5,000 annual fee to operate a carriage; which is likely to be reduced to somewhere around $1,000 — still less than the fees associated with operating a tour train or trolley but more than the $80 per year currently charged.
Licenses are likely to be issued pursuant to some sort of annual franchise with franchise owners able to obtain a predetermined number of licenses. The city will probably continue to limit the number of carriage licenses in force at any given time, overall, but the number will no doubt be more in line with the capacity of the city streets which are shared with other vehicles and should be somewhere around twenty-five total.
The franchise model eliminates a practice that has received criticism in the past where the City collected what amounted to a pittance for licenses that were traded, bought and sold, in a secondary transaction for extravagant sums — none of which made it back to the City.
Also to be addressed will be changes to the routes of the carriages, conditions on “charter” tours and designation of one or more staging locations for carriage operators that will be able to provide adequate shade and water for the horses waiting for their next fare.
Photo credits: © 2010 Historic City News staff photographer