A taxi from one of the fleets contracted to operate in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles City Council directed its attorneys today to draft a proposed ordinance that would "green'' at least 80 percent of the city's taxicabs within the next five years.
The city's contracts with the nine franchises operating 2,300 taxicabs is set to expire on Dec. 31.
The council's attorneys were asked to draft an ordinance that would renew the contracts for another five years, "with the requirement that 80 percent of their fleets be comprised of fuel-efficient vehicles.''
"Cities all over the nation and all around us locally have made the move toward green cabs, but here in Los Angeles, we have continued to lag behind,'' Councilman Bill Rosendahl told his colleagues. "Today, we have the opportunity to change the course and get L.A. back on track.''
Councilman Tony Cardenas said San Francisco, Long Beach, New York and Seattle have all moved toward greening their taxi fleet.
"What we passed today is a step closer to making Los Angeles a green city and creating healthier communities,'' Cardenas said.
Several members of the Los Angeles Taxi Workers Alliance opposed renewing the current contracts, saying they cannot afford to replace their existing taxicabs with "green'' cabs.
But Los Angeles Department of Transportation officials said the cost could be offset by savings at the gas pump. They also vowed to help drivers secure small business loans.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had sought to renew the contracts for only two years, instead of five, during which time a study would be conducted to determine how the city's public transportation system can be restructured to encourage more people to use taxicabs.
The council decided to go with the recommendation of transportation officials, who warned that the federal government could withhold a $2.5 million grant for wheelchair-accessible taxicabs if the franchises are given only a short-term extension.