Taxi drivers hoping for Rohnert Park casino boom

  • RAZ Taxi and Limousine owner Danny Nakash gets a call for a taxi while checking out the construction at the Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park on Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Nakash says he waited eight years for the project, which he hopes will bolster his business in the area. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

From his property just west of Rohnert Park, Danny Nakash has watched with anticipation the rapid rise of the casino being built by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

It is a sight he long waited for because it signals what he hopes will be a boon to his business, Raz Taxi.

"Hopefully, I will be very happy," said Nakash, who said he bought the Whistler Avenue property eight years ago with the casino in mind. His company also provides service in Santa Rosa.

He got permission to operate in Rohnert Park in 2012, at the forward edge of a rush of taxi operators applying to do business in the city.

Five prospective taxi operators have applied for permits since January, seeking to join the five already licensed. The agenda for almost every City Council meeting includes a taxi operator's application. They are drawn by the prospect of thousands of visitors a day to what will be the Bay Area's largest casino, projected to open late this year.

"I see it growing a lot because of the casino," Ahferom Legesse said of his three-car All City Taxi company, which in February got approval to do business in Rohnert Park.

City officials aren't surprised by the interest.

"It was expected with the casino coming," said Rohnert Park Public Safety Lt. Jeff Taylor. The department regulates the city's taxi companies.

But the rush of applications has caused some concern on the City Council and among longer-term taxi operators.

"I don't think there's too many right at the moment, but I think it's something the council needs to address, to see if there's some sort of ordinance to put on the books to limit them," said Vice Mayor Joe Callinan.

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