Ignacio De La Fuente's last act as an Oakland city councilman might be a boon to the city's taxicab industry.

In a last-minute request, De La Fuente and Council President Larry Reid, are asking the council to halve the cost of taxi medallions from $1,019 to $510. The proposal will be heard by the council Dec. 18 -- the last meeting of the year and the last for De La Fuente and two other outgoing council members.

City staffers oppose reducing medallion fees, noting in a report this week that Oakland would lose nearly $134,000 used to oversee the taxicab program. The reduction, they wrote, would primarily benefit the city's two biggest taxi companies, which hold 175 of the 263 vehicle permits.

Oakland's largest taxi company, Friendly Cab, is headed by Dhar Mann, who was a prolific council campaign fundraiser before he was charged earlier this year in connection with a scheme to pocket city grant funds.

Last year, the council increased the taxi vehicle permit fee from $25 to $1,019 to fully cover the cost of managing the taxi program.

In a one-page memo, Reed and De La Fuente wrote that the fees are now too high and are negatively affecting the taxi companies and drivers.

Meeting set about Lake Merritt BART

The city of Oakland is holding an open house Dec. 15 to discuss development guidelines near the Lake Merritt BART station.


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BART is seeking to transform the two square blocks it owns above the underground station into a high-density urban hub with ground floor shops and residential towers soaring up to 400 feet.

The city is also considering land use rules that could include better bus service, more bike lanes and fewer one-way streets.

The open house will include a formal presentation and a chance for attendees to provide feedback. A finalized land use plan for the area is expected to be adopted early next year.

The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. at Laney College's Student Center, 900 Fallon St. Attendees are asked to RSVP by calling 510-238-7904 or emailing lake_merritt_plan@oaklandnet.com.

Fremont council to select new member

The City Council on Tuesday decided that it will appoint its fifth council member from a field of applicants, avoiding the costs of a special election.

The council -- new Mayor Bill Harrison, Anu Natarajan, Sue Chan and newcomer Vinnie Bacon -- will fill the seat Harrison vacated after he was elected mayor last month.

Candidates for the job must submit their application to the office of City Clerk Nadine Nader by noon Dec. 21. A special council meeting, at which applications will be reviewed and discussed, has been tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. Jan. 9.

Council members also will decide on the details of the interviewing process, Nader said. They might select a candidate based on their discussions of the candidates; or they could rank the top three to five candidates and interview them later; or they could decide to interview all candidates.

Nader said if council members decide to interview candidates, their questions will be posed at a special council meeting tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 14. They then likely would select their top candidate at that meeting.

The selected council member would be sworn in at a Feb. 5 council meeting, Nader said. The appointed person will serve for about two years and could run for re-election in November 2014.

It would be the third time in little more than three years that a new member is appointed to the council, rather than chosen in a special election. In 2010, Fremont council members appointed Dominic Dutra to replace Bob Wieckowski, who resigned from the council after being elected to the state Assembly. Earlier this year, Gus Morrison was appointed to sit on the council as mayor, replacing Bob Wasserman, who died late last year.

Each applicant must be a Fremont resident, Nader said. For more information, call 510-284-4060 or email cclerk@fremont.gov.

San Leandro reviews pot dispensary rules

The city took another step this week toward allowing medical marijuana dispensaries.

A draft ordinance was presented to the City Council on Monday. The ordinance, modeled after Oakland's, would allow dispensaries only in the city's industrial and commercial areas. In addition, they would have to be at least 500 feet from residences and 1,000 feet from schools, parks, libraries, youth centers, another dispensary, and parks and recreation facilities.

The ordinance would only allow two dispensaries in San Leandro. And there would have to be two public hearings before a permit was approved.

The council will hold a work session on the proposed ordinance in February.

San Leandro had a moratorium on allowing dispensaries, but that expired in September. This past summer, the council voted to table a proposed ban on dispensaries after a California appeals court ruled that such bans were illegal under state law. The council opted instead to draw up regulations for dispensaries.