Palm Beach County Commission to tackle pet rules today

091316-met-pet-store-02A contentious set of tough new rules for pet stores goes to a second and final vote at today’s Palm Beach County Commission meeting.

The county’s Department of Animal Care and Control says the rules are designed to reduce the flow of animals from so-called “puppy mills.”

Also on Tuesday’s agenda:

Lifeguards: will again visit pleas by county ocean rescue lifeguards that they be classified as “special risk” in order to get additional benefits.

Child Care: Will consider tough new guidelines for the county’s hundreds of child care centers.

Incentives: Expected to approve $357,000 in incentives to “Project Emblem,” now revealed as Cancer Treatment Centers of America, for its corporate headquarters in Boca Raton; and offer $89,000, as part of a state match, to “Project Cranium,” an as-yet undisclosed company wanting to more its regional headquarters to the county.

Vehicles for Hire: Set to take the second of two votes on new “reciprocity” rules for taxis, limos, and app-based rides such as Uber and Lyft, for five southeast Florida counties.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting

When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Public comment at 2 p.m. Where: Sixth-floor chambers, Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach

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Judge won’t toss taxi firms’ Uber suit vs. Palm Beach County

Rosenberg (Post/Lannis Waters)
Rosenberg (Post/Lannis Waters)

The class-action lawsuit by taxi and limousine drivers against Palm 020115-UBER-3Beach County still has some life.

The outfits had sued in federal court in May 2015, arguing the county gave special treatment to the app-based ride service Uber.

Fort Pierce-based U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg had thrown out the suit in February, but had permitted the firms to file an amended complaint.

In late May, she tossed the third of three counts, and part of the second count, but said the firms may continue to pursue damages for the year and a half that the county had a temporary operating agreement with San Francisco-based Uber parent Rasier LLC.

On Monday, Rosenberg refused to dismiss the rest of the case, County Attorney Denise Nieman told commissioners and staff in an email.

“Moving forward, our efforts will be focused on completing discovery and filing a motion (for) a summary judgment,” Nieman said.

In partially dismissing the case in May, Rosenberg had agreed with the county’s argument that the suit was been made moot when county commissioners, on April 19, set rules for Uber and Lyft and similar app-based ride operations that those firms have said guarantee they will operate safely.

Read The Post’s complete Uber coverage

Palm Beach County gives a “go” to rules for Uber-style firms

Uber01Palm Beach County Commissioners Tuesday finally set rules for Uber and Lyft and similar app-based ride operations.

The ride companies have said the rules are enough to guarantee they will operate safely. But taxi firms say rules don’t go far enough to protect the public and give the ride services an unfair advantage.

Palm Beach County set a temporary operating agreement for app-based ride services in September 2014. A year later, the county opted not to set its own permanent rules and continued its temporary agreement, hoping that the Florida Legislature would enact uniform regulations for the entire state. In mid-March, the state body adjourned without a law in place. With the county’s temporary agreement set to expire April 30, the issue came back to commissioners.

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Update: Palm Beach County OKs Uber rules on 1st reading; 2nd vote April 19

Uber1Palm Beach County Commissioners, after spending 2-1/2 hours Tuesday yet again debating rules for Uber-style firms, voted them up 7-0 on  the first of two votes; the second would be April 19.

Major points: both Uber-style outfits and taxis would be responsible to either conduct their own background checks or hire the county to do the more comprehensive and costly fingerprint-based “Level II” checks for them.

That, and what insurance would be required of drivers in both endeavors, have been sticking points in the debate for going on two years.

Uber and Lyft say the proposed rules would guarantee they operate safely; taxi firms say aren’t sufficient and give the app-based rides an unfair advantage.

“If we were having a real safety issue we would be hearing it. We would be seeing it,” said Tomas Bolton, head of the local “Citizens for Improved Transit.”

But limo service owner Sheryl Berkowitz said, “I cannot believe what’s going on, being a woman, mother, and a property owner. Why don’t you just let everyone drive?”

She added, “ the only thing you’re protecting is uber’s wishes; its transportation model.”

Lee Barron, who operates a Fort Pierce-based transportation service to airports and ports, told the commission, “You should just deregulate the whole mess, get out of it  You probably wish you never heard the words “vehicle for hire.”

Palm Beach County had set a temporary operating agreement in September 2014. A year later, it opted not to set new rules, instead calling on the Florida legislature to enact uniform regulations for the entire state. On March 1, commissioners extended the agreement to April 30, to see what Tallahassee did. In mid-March the state body adjourned without a law in place.

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