Homestead jitney biz sparking concerns
By Stacy Lee
Published: Friday, Feb. 10, 2012
A Homestead resident said she is concerned about the negative publicity that has been created by jitney businesses in the borough.
"With the possibility of more cuts in bus routes, limited ownership of personal vehicles, etc., I understand the need for a taxi jitney service in our borough," Carol James said Thursday night. "I don't understand council's attitude. It appears the jitney service is exempt from guidelines as specified by our own Homestead Code Chapter No. 119."
Borough code enforcement officer Thom Betz, who did not attend Thursday's council meeting, has said he received numerous complaints about jitney drivers in Homestead in regard to parking issues.
He also said he's gotten complaints about jitney drivers not paying a business privilege tax or having an occupancy permit.
Betz said a two-month investigation found that there are at least 39 jitney drivers operating out of three stands along Ann Street. He said he gave business privilege license applications to the stations on Jan. 9. Those licenses would require all individual drivers and the jitney stands to pay $75 a year, as other businesses in Homestead are required to do.
Betz said he was told by borough council to "let it alone." He said he listened to councilors discuss whether to fire or reprimand him at a Jan. 10 caucus meeting.
James said other businesses in the borough must have proper licenses and occupancy permits, pay taxes and pay the parking meters. She said that, as a borough resident, she must feed parking meters, report income and pay taxes even though she's on a fixed income. James said council is not requiring jitney drivers to adhere to Homestead code.
"Being a newer member of the community I would be afraid to use the jitney service as it currently operates," she said. "The first thing I'd be looking for is a form of identification or certificate stating the ride I'm accepting is endorsed by the borough, and that I'm not getting a ride from a scavenger."
James asked what measures are in place if an accident or other incident occurs when someone is being transported by one of the unlicensed vehicles.
"Has anyone thought who might be responsible for any legal action that might be taken?" she asked. "In addition, what message are we sending those businesses and residents who play by the rules and adhere to the codes as specified by the borough?"
Titmus deferred comment to Homestead solicitor Bernie Schneider, who said "no comment."
Betz also had said an ordinance passed on Jan. 12 that prohibits borough employees " excluding police officers " to carry a gun while working for Homestead was a form of retaliation against him. He said the new weapons policy puts him in danger.
Councilmen Drew Borcik and Lloyd Cunningham abstained from the weapons policy vote. After A Jan. 12 meeting, council president Susan Titmus said the policy was not a response to any incident.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.