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 onnew “reciprocity” rulesfor taxis, limos, and app-based rides such as Uber and Lyft, for five southeast Florida counties.
What impact will the planned Westlake development, formerly called Minto West, have on the surrounding area? Commissioners will get a report at their regular meeting Tuesday.
Also on the agenda:
Pets: Set to take the first of two votes on tough new rules for pet stores that the head of the county’s Animal Care and Control says are designed to reduce the flow of animals from so-called “puppy mills.”
Vehicles for Hire: Set to take the first of two votes on new “reciprocity” rules for taxis, limos, and app-based rides such as Uber, for five southeast Florida counties.
PBIA: Would approve the replacement of a bookstore at Palm Beach International Airport with a “gourmet market.”
Fire Stations: Would agree to buy the property where it operates two fire-rescue stations for the Village of Royal Palm Beach, saying it was cheaper in the long run than leasing.
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.
Bock: The commission will hear Clerk of Courts Sharon Bock’s annual financial report. Last year, Bock reported that county assets dropped $99.1 million, mostly because the county sold the Mecca Farms property at a $33 million loss and locked into $50 million in new debt over the Max Planck Institute and the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
Housing: Approved its required Local Housing Assistance Plan for the next three years, as required by the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP). The plan’s goals are to preserve and increase the stock of affordable housing.
Bus vs. House: Is set to approve a $51,593 settlement for a West Palm Beach man whose home was damaged in March 2013 when it was struck by a Palm Tran bus.
The Palm Beach County Commission once again will tackle the issue of how the app-based ride service and similar ones are regulated, and whether they are getting an unfair advantage over traditional taxis and limos.
The biggest aspect of the Uber package commissioners will consider: 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.
The commission might also talk some more about last week’s charge by the county’s inspector general that officials of the Palm Tran Connection cooked their books to improve the on-time record for the bus service for the disabled, elderly and ill.
The contentious issue of how to regulate Uber and other app-based ride programs, and what it means for the traditional taxi and limo industry, could be back before the Palm Beach County Commission as early at next month.
The issue could come back to the commission’s April 5 meeting, Brock Rosayn, president of Metro Taxi of Palm Beach County and a member of the county’s Vehicle for Hire Advisory Committee, said Sunday.
County Attorney Denise Marie Nieman told county commissioners and staff Thursday in an email that she’d received the new, amended complaint in the class-action suit, which claimed Palm Beach County gives special treatment to the Uber app-based ride program.
“I will keep you posted as this matter progresses,” Nieman wrote.
In their lawsuit, originally filed in May 2015, the plaintiffs — Boyce Transportation, which operates A1A Airport and Limousine Service; Prestige Limousine; North County Transportation; Apollo Transportation Services; and Metro Premier Car Service — demanded monetary damages, a declaration that Uber is a vehicle-for-hire firm, and an order barring the county from “selectively enforcing the laws of the state and county applicable to plaintiffs’ business for the benefit of any (vehicle for hire) company willing to pay PBC to do so.”
But U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg wrote in a ruling from Fort Pierce that the firms’ “broad allegation” that they were the same animal as Uber and similar firms “is not supported by sufficient factual allegations.”