San Francisco taxi drivers today filed suit against the city in an attempt to halt plans to raise between $5 million and $20 million by selling drivers' permits, known in the industry as medallions. The city has initiated a pilot program to sell medallions for $250,000 apiece; cabbies can then rent them out to other drivers. In the past, drivers have had to persevere on a waiting list for more than a decade, working as full-time cabbies all the while, in order to eventually obtain a medallion.
The suit claims that the medallion sale amounts to an unfair tax, and, additionally, that by hoarding medallions for sale, the city has violated its own stated policies for re-issuing medallions once cabbies die or otherwise can't drive.
You can read the suit here: medallions civil complaint.doc
“The pilot program imposes a tax rather than a regulatory fee, because
the revenues exceed the cost of the service to be provided, or of the
cost of regulation,” said San Francisco attorney George Surmaitis, who
filed suit on behalf of 6,000 taxi drivers currently on the
waiting list to get medallions.