Let me begin by saying I would like my taxi driver to smell like a rose and our youth to pull up their pants, but is that the role of government?
Currently there is a St Augustine city ordinance being reviewed that would control the cleanliness and appearance of taxicabs and their drivers, including the ability to determine what level of appearance is acceptable.
Our government officials want to enforce a new regulation that requires “every for-hire driver shall be clean and neat in appearance”.
The market determines the success or failure of a private business. Consumers have the freedom to shop and choose for themselves where they spend their money. Not everyone will drive a Cadillac, some will drive a Chevy; based on their individual means and preference. That is not a function of government.
Consumers actively use websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp to see how others rate the strengths and weaknesses of just about everything — including taxicabs, ride shares, and other for-hire services. The availability of alternatives in the marketplace stimulates competition. Additional choices lower prices for consumers for similar goods and services.
So, what is the motivation behind this ordinance? Who, or what, is driving it? Was there a rapid increase in complaints about safety issues by patrons using taxis?
The responsibility of our government is to enact and enforce regulations to protect the health, safety and general welfare of citizens, not dictate what is or isn’t acceptable, clean or pleasing. We are hardly able to enforce the abundance of our existing ordinances without adding “cleanliness” and “appearance” to the list.