DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - City commissioners approved the first step in requiring the city's pedicab drivers to undergo criminal background checks and purchase their own permits Wednesday.
The proposal for the new requirements comes after pedicab driver George Brainard, 28, was arrested after a woman claimed he drove her to a patch of woods near the International Speedway and raped her in February.
While the new regulations don't sound like a big deal to most people, they mean a lot to the pedicab drivers, who say any extra fees would force them to find another job.
"An extra $200 is a hardship," said pedicab driver Jenny Nazak. "A lot of the people who come here come to Daytona Beach after being unemployed for a while."
"It really could shut us down," said Jonathan Forgione, owner of Five Star Pedicabs in Daytona Beach.
Forgione employs about 18 drivers annually and 30 at peak season. He said he fears the permit and the criminal background checks would be cost prohibitive for a lot of potential workers.
"A driver comes in and has $20 to his name. We can't ask a driver to somehow get $200 to go give the city before you make a dollar," Forgione said.
Some city commissioners admit they had a problem with the city manager not presenting a proposed cost for the permits and background checks, and they decided to vote against the proposal.
In the end the plan moved forward with a vote of 5-2.
"We like to think in America now that we can ensure against every possible thing that might go wrong and you can't," said Nazak.
A public hearing on the plan is scheduled for June 18 at the Daytona Beach City Commission chambers.
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