Council moves against electronic cab signs

BY DI STAFF | FEBRUARY 03, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa City City Council passed its first consideration of an ordinance that would amend the city code to prohibit the use of electronic signs on taxicabs on Tuesday evening.

The ordinance became a topic of interest after a local cab company inquired about the use of electronic signs on top of its cabs as an advertising mechanism. Before the ordinance, the city code didn’t specifically prohibit this type of advertising.

Local cab owner Yasser Gaber of Five Star Taxi said his company is struggling in the current economy and the proposed signs could help the company financially.

The council passed the ordinance fearing a state-code violation.

That code prohibits the use of “flashing lights” on vehicles but fails to clearly define the term.

City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes said Johnson County chief prosecutor Janette Lyness defined the cab sign as a flashing light— but noted a judge could disagree.

City staff recommended the city council to ban the use of electronic cab advertisements because they would distract other drivers and pedestrians.

Roger Bradley, Yellow Cab Company manager, spoke before the council, requesting the council to consider a standard cab fare at the city’s next council meeting.

— by Kathryn Stinson

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