I am pleased to report that I was indeed allowed entry into the city taxi licensing center located at 805 South Dearborn Street, or more officially known as the Consumer Affairs Unit. My visit, which lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours was motivated by the incident of last Wednesday June 20th when approximately 35 or so taxi and limo and for-hire drivers were left "hanging out to dry" while attempting to do their yearly license renewals. Given the level of emotion I thought it would be reasonable to do some investigative reporting, attempting to dredge up fact from fiction that always seems to prevail within the taxi industry. Why know the actual situation as it really is when instead it being far more fun creating your own version. My initial comment to everyone concerned is that you might not want to wait to the last minute or day to file all your paperwork. By continuing reading you will have a much clearer idea of what is occurring behind those windows. It may not be what you are imagining. I do believe it is past time to toss out the conspiracy theories and realize that Consumer Affairs is both under resourced and under staffed, attempting to do too much with not enough to it with.
I first sat behind the much maligned Kim and saw from her perspective all those impatient operators. One of the major problems is that Consumer Affairs is an antiquated facility that was not designed for the kinds of responsibilities they now hold. In addition to dealing with the 929 Seattle and King County taxis, add all the new for-hire vehicles plus the hundreds of limos and you have a number nearing 1500 plus vehicles and license holders to oversee and inspect and manage. Consumer Affairs is also responsible for all the scales and gas pumps in Seattle. Especially during the cold seasons they have to measure the tank capacities of home fuel trucks. Clearly they are overwhelmed with multiple responsibilities. And I will be back later with many more specifics.