Illegal taxi operations won't be able to run under the radar for long. City leaders and law enforcement are looking to close a loophole in the law and put the brakes on rogue taxicab operations.
"Everybody's coming (into the city) in the summertime to make a fast buck and get out," said Scott Myers, owner of Mr. Taxi.
Mr. Taxi is one of five registered taxi services that operate legally in the city, said Sandusky police Lt. Phil Frost.
According to the current ordinance, all taxis operating in the city must register with the police department. However, the rules don't apply to limousines, and some cabs are calling themselves "limos" to skirt the law. Other taxis operate in the city with magnetic "taxi" labels taken on and off the car to hide from police.
Those gaps in the city ordinance allow these rogue taxis to operate, but not for much longer.
The city will host the first of two public meetings on the taxi ordinance at 6 p.m. Jan. 30 at city hall.
"We want the legitimate (taxi companies) to be there and tell us what else we can do to stop the illegal cabs or ones that don't want to comply," Frost said.
Myers said some people with a car and cell phone run around the city claiming to be taxi companies, and that's not safe for anyone involved.
"When you get in a taxi, you're vulnerable," Myers said.
The new ordinance is to keep passengers as safe as possible all year long, Frost said.
Frost said proposed changes to the ordinance include making it apply to all vehicles-for-hire, including limousines.
"The state of Ohio doesn't have much limo regulation," Frost said, which makes the designation appealing to rogue cab drivers.
Another addition would be to mandate police-issued cab identification stickers that would make it easier for officers to identify legal and illegal cabs.
"It'll be a no-brainer enforcement-wise," Frost said.
According to police registration records, the five taxi services registered with the city at the end of 2007 were Best Bet Shuttle, Cruisin' City, Mr. Taxi, Majestic Transportation and City Service Transport.