SANTA MONICA—A Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge temporarily shut down Santa Monica’s new taxi franchising system on Wednesday, December 22, over concerns that it was discriminating against Armenian-American cab drivers.

The decision, made by Judge Robert O’Brien, restrains operation of the franchising plan until January 7. The lawsuit, filed by the newly-formed Taxi Drivers Association of Santa Monica, was issued the previous day, on Tuesday. The TDASM is comprised of Armenian-American taxi companies and drivers.

The TDASM issued the lawsuit due to the fact that among the 13 cab companies that applied to operate as franchises in June, none of the five selected were Armenian-American owned. The Santa Monica City Council held an approval hearing on November 9. TDASM represents five Armenian-American owned cab companies, as well as 300 cab drivers.

“We are very pleased to announce that our effort on behalf of the Armenian-owned and operated taxi cabs in Santa Monica has led to victory in the first legal hurdle,” said attorney Nora Hovsepian, Community Relations Chair at the Armenian National Committee of America, Western Region, in a statement released by the Armenian Youth Federation.

Hovsepian and Serouj Aprahamian, executive director of the Armenian Youth Federation, both raised the question of possible discrimination at the approval hearing.

“It is incumbent upon us to continue standing in solidarity with those fighting for a fair, more inclusive awarding of taxi franchises in Santa Monica,” said Aprahamian.

On January 7, city attorneys will be required to explain why the court should not grant the preliminary injunction. The Santa Monica franchise cab system was created with the intention to curb the number of cabs in Santa Monica.

Photograph From Armenian Youth Federation, Western Region website