Archive for December, 2007

How to Screen Rental Limousine Companies

December 30, 2007

You’re putting in a lot of money when you get a rental limousine. It’s only fair that you get quality services plus added benefits to have a great time.

You only need a few simple guidelines to follow to properly screen rental limousine companies. In the end, you’ll be glad to have spent a bit of your time weighing your options and investing only with the best.

How did you get to know the company?

It would be wise to narrow your choices to reputable companies which you have heard of by word-of-mouth or through satisfied references. Although there are new budding ones that offer quality services, it is still safer to invest in a company who has already proven their effectiveness and competence in the business. Research on some of the top rental limousine companies in the area where you’ll be. Also read or hear about testimonials from clients in the past.

How long have they been in business?

Most long-running companies already know how to adjust accordingly to a variety of situations that may arise during your rental. New companies still need a lot of experience to enhance their services and maintain quality for years to come. You’d be better off choosing one that already knows your needs and is able to deliver on schedule.

How are their limousines?

Check the company fleet. How many are there? What’s the average age? How many varieties are there? A good rental limousine company has a fairly young fleet with one or two of the latest models. This means that they are constantly updating to cope with clients’ demands.

You should determine the number of cars in the fleet according to how well they can manage all of it. A very huge fleet does not always bode well since these also need a lot of maintenance. Check the condition of the limousines if you feel they’re good enough to ride in.

How are their drivers?

The company should have a complete record of all their drivers. They should be able to recommend you with a consistent driver who can specifically deliver the tasks essential in your trip or business. Ask how many drivers the company has as well as the track record of the one they’re assigning to you. Screen the driver personally as well before you rent. A one-driver-one-limo policy is a good sign.

How are their policies?

What are the available methods of payment? What condiments are included in the limo? How long will the rental last? Check all the details and documentation of your rental to ensure that everything is covered according to your best interests should anything unexpected happen like accidents, delays, etc. There should also be a refund or reimbursement policy that will cover any losses on your part should they fail to deliver their services well.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

Stolen Limousine Rams DC Police Officer

December 30, 2007

A Washington, D.C. police officer riding on a mountain bike in Northeast Washington, was seriously injured yesterday when the driver of a stolen limousine tried to run down the officer and a partner, authorities said. The driver abandoned the vehicle nearby and remained at large last night.

The officer, who suffered a broken ankle and facial fractures, was being treated at Washington Hospital Center last night. Police did not release the name of the officer, a six-year veteran.

The incident occurred about 4:40 p.m., after the two officers had stopped to talk to youths in an alley in the 4200 block of Ord Street. The driver of the black Cadillac DTS limousine pulled up behind the officers, gunned the car’s engine and barreled toward them, authorities said.

“It just charged toward them at a high rate of speed,” said Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier. The injured officer pushed his partner out of harm’s way. The limousine, which was reported stolen last week from Woodley Park, near the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, was found last night in the 4400 block of Quarles Street NE. The license plates on the vehicle were not registered to the limousine, authorities said.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

North Miami CRA Distributes Loans For Affordable Housing

December 28, 2007

Eliud and Rosemarie Guerrier have learned about mortgages and taxes. They know about interest and credit, and now they know what it is like to be able to buy their first home.

The couple is one of 14 families who is part of the first wave to receive a $50,000 loan from North Miami’s Community Redevelopment Agency. The Guerriers found a two-bedroom condo in the Whitehouse, located at 13700 NE Sixth Ave., for $180,000. The $50,000 loan will be used as a down payment. ”It really helps because it would be difficult to buy anything without the help from the CRA,” Eliud Guerrier said. “We thank God that we will be able to have our own property.”

North Miami’s Community Redevelopment Agency was created in 2004 to spruce up a large swath of the city. Part of the goal was to make housing affordable and help people rehabilitate their existing homes.

After extensive reviews of the application, loans were given on first-come first-served basis as long as the applicants were preapproved. In addition to the 14 families receiving money to buy homes, 10 people are receiving between $25,000 and $50,000 to rehabilitate their existing home. In total, the CRA will dish out more than $1 million generated from tax revenue, CRA Executive Director Tony Crapp Sr. said. Crapp said the agency will likely give more loans next year.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

Protesters Want New Housing For Displaced Residents

December 28, 2007

Joe Billups worries that lost amid Miami’s changing landscape of gleaming high-rises, of planned waterfront museums and a proposed baseball stadium is . . . housing for the poor.

So he joined a coalition of activists and residents at the corner of Northwest 72nd Street and 22nd Avenue Monday morning at a rally to demand that government officials tend to unfinished business — at least 850 homes — promised by county officials to the former residents of the Scott and Carver housing projects.

”We’re tired of being lied to,” Billups said. “My back is worn down from helping to build high-rises I can’t even visit.” Billups and others called the recent approval of a $2 billion makeover for Miami — featuring a new stadium, a tunnel to the Port of Miami and a park that would become the new address for two museums — a case of misplaced priorities.

About 40 people in all protested in front of the last remaining building — now a historic landmark — of the Scott and Carver Homes, which were demolished in 2001. ”We had a sense of community before they took it from us,” said Cora Lipscomb, a former resident who was homeless for a year after the demolition.

Residents believed they had won when Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez promised earlier this year to build more than 800 units in and around the Scott Carver site.

Alvarez’s pitch helped persuade many residents to side with the county as county leaders tried to prevent a takeover of its scandal-plagued housing agency by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

Major Anti-Erosion Work To Fix Miami Beach Shoreline

December 26, 2007

When Miami Beach resident Nancy Hensel looks outside the window of her 19th-floor condo in the 2600 block of Collins Avenue, she sees workers driving bulldozers across the beach day and night.

They are moving piles of wet sand that has been pumped through a pipe extending from 13th to 26th streets. The results so far: a wider beach between the city’s boardwalk and the lapping water of the Atlantic Ocean.

Over the summer, Hensel said, erosion had so depleted the sand that there was little room to spread a towel. Since Nov. 1, Miami-Dade workers have been delivering a sand bonanza to the most eroded spots, between 26th and 29th streets, and they are filling the eroded shoreline with new sand from South Beach.

The work is expected to be finished by Jan. 15, said Luis Espinosa, spokesman for Miami-Dade’s Department of Environmental Resources Management, known as DERM. And last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave Miami-Dade permission to import foreign sand for long-term beach renourishment after more than a decade of negotiations and study.

With the federal renourishment project still in its early stages, locals like Hensel are concentrating on the work in their backyard. ”We’re very happy the county is restoring the beach,” she said. “We pay high taxes for our location and our views. It’s not right that we haven’t had a beach to walk on.”

Espinosa said the county is pumping in 70,000 cubic yards to the area between 26th and 29th streets at a cost of $2 million.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

How to Negotiate Rates with your Miami Real Estate Broker

December 26, 2007

place is surrounded with pristine and magnificent beaches, the best tropical paradise, and the friendliest and most accommodating residents. Miami, by all means, is one perfect haven to invest on a real estate property.

However, being a perfect place at that, real estate properties in Miami are undeniably very expensive. But with the right real estate broker plus the proper background as to how the real estate industry in Miami goes, you can easily find the perfect property that suits you right and serves you well.

A lot of people do not actually know that real estate rates can possibly be negotiated. There are a few ways on how you can cut down those highly-expensive property rates and one of them is to hire reduced-fee real estate brokers.

Why Should you Hire Reduced-Fee Brokers?

If there are reduced-fee brokers, then there are standard-fee brokers and instinctively, no real estate broker will own up to that particular statement simply because rates in the real estate industry are negotiable. This explains why a lot of real estate brokerages, like in Miami, are creating their own market niches in the hope of capitalizing their growing realization in providing clients with negotiable real estate property rates. This action additionally, is aimed at providing clients with money-saving properties, as well as rebate commissions to buyers.

Here are some examples on how discount real estate brokers operate.

Flat-Fee Listing

This type of real estate brokerage takes all those listing at flat rates, paying only cooperating fees on top of the original amount to the selling brokers. These said cooperating fees are paid by the sellers themselves. It is normal to find brokerage ads that offer to list properties at a given fee. However, most of these ads have tiny prints. These are the disclaimer that says the fees are exclusive only to the selling broker. Since this can be misleading, consumers must be wary about this.

Buyer Commission Rebates

You can also avail of real estate agents advertising that if you seek their help in finding you a home, the company will relatively credit the buyer a part of a percentage from the commission or even a flat-fee at closing. The money used basically comes from those fees that sellers pay to the brokers who present their possible buyers.

In general, a real estate company that provides its customers with some of their income does so in hopes that it can attract bigger volumes of the business.
Graduated Fee Policies- These real estate brokers offer more services and fees, but greatly depend on work required and the type of representations.

Why is it Better to Accept Reduced Services?

Buyers and sellers opt to accept reduced services to save money. That is primarily the major motivation.

There are a lot of discount brokers in Miami that can help you with your real estate concerns. If you wish to find one, you can go over the Internet. Take enough time in looking up the different companies and be careful in scrutinizing and studying well the services they can offer.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

Wisconsin Limousine Safe Ride Program Faces Challenge

December 21, 2007

Two tavern owners in a Wisconsin town have began offering a fun and safe transportation option for Heart of the Valley residents heading out for nights on the town.

Tavern owners Brian and Rick Schuh introduced the Road Crew drunken-driving prevention program after securing a $35,000 grant from the Wisconsin State Patrol’s Bureau of Transportation Safety.

Brian Schuh owns Little Chute’s Pine Street Bar. His father, Rick Schuh, owns the Schuh Shanty Bar and Grill in Kaukauna. On Thursday through Saturday nights, a bar patron can be picked up at home by limousine, taken to taverns throughout their service area and returned home later that night. It costs $20 per person and $30 per couple. One-way rides are offered for half the cost. They’ll also bring the baby sitter home once the night is through. Road Crew has given more than 2,700 rides since its debut.

Early successes led organizers to expand the program to Thursday nights. While organizers are pleased by their progress, the program still faces some significant challenges. Lykke Jome-Weigman, director of the program, said Road Crew used up its grant funding and organizers are in the process of finding additional sponsors to keep their limousines rolling.

Organizers are also hoping the always busy holiday season will help them build a bigger customer base. “We’re hoping people will use it more frequently,” she said.

Jome-Weigman said they still get a number of riders trying the program for the first time. Their customer base has primarily been those 28 and older, though they’ve also had many younger riders.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

New Zealand Ministers Will Soon Use New “Green” BMW Limousine

December 21, 2007

The future New Zealand Prime Minister could race to rugby tests in the same Hydrogen-powered BMW limousine that actor Brad Pitt uses to get to movie premieres.

Having just won the government limousine contract, BMW has offered ministers an exclusive test-drive of the BMW Hydrogen 7 in Melbourne next month.

The Hydrogen 7 is the German company’s next step in “green” cars from the 34 diesel-powered limousines ministers and other dignitaries will soon be ferried about in.

The Hydrogen 7 is much-hyped – the 100 produced have been loaned or leased to high-profile “green ambassadors” such as Brad Pitt, who took one to the Oceans 13 premiere in Hollywood this year.

They are not for sale and have no shelf-price. The hydrogen engine is a step away from fossil fuels, and the cars discharge almost nothing but water vapor. They require hydrogen stations to fill up – and New Zealand has none.

BMW New Zealand spokesman Piers Scott said it had invited Government ministers and Opposition members to try the car, although he would not give names. Government officials, environmental opinion-leaders and media would also be invited.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

Limousine Owners To Challenge Toronto Council Decision On Airport Pickups

December 14, 2007

Toronto airport limousine owners are now considering all their options, including a court challenge, after the City Council’s decision to bar them from picking up passengers in Toronto after Feb. 1.

“We’re not going to sleep,” Louis Vittas said yesterday, speaking for the Airport Limousine Owners Association. “We’ll be back.” Toronto cabs complain it’s unfair they’re not allowed to pick up passengers at the airport, while limousines licensed by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority regularly pick up passengers in the city after delivering fares from the airport.

To even the playing field, Toronto plans to block airport limos from picking up passengers in the city. Council’s decision on the issue was made late Wednesday night. Franz Hartmann of the Toronto Environmental Alliance said he’s not an expert in the long-running regulatory dispute between city and airport vehicles, but that empty vehicles aren’t good for the environment. “If a car’s going to deliver a passenger at the airport, they should then have the capacity to deliver a passenger downtown,” Hartmann said in an interview.

“From an environmental perspective, the city should be saying: What can we do to ensure cars driving back and forth between the airport always have passengers in them?” But Mayor David Miller said, “It’s completely unfair that somebody who gets a licence in Mississauga can pick people up in Toronto, and not the other way around. That’s not right. We have to protect the people who work for us.”

Asked whether the result will be more greenhouse gas emissions, he called that “very unfair analysis,” since Toronto cabs are already forced to return empty and their drivers struggle to make a living.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

Bright Prospects Seen For Chauffeured Transport

December 14, 2007

The plump Lincoln Town Cars that provide a ride as soft as a pillow are clogging city streets and airport access roads these days – a sign that the $2.4 billion chauffeured transportation business in the United States is doing well, particularly with corporate customers.

“Chauffeured cars are no longer considered such a luxury,” said Scott A. Solombrino, chief executive and owner of Dav El, the second-biggest limousine company. “They’re an efficiency tool mostly for highly paid executives who often don’t have time to rent a car.”

Perhaps the biggest indication of the bright long-term prospects for chauffeuring services is the Avis Budget Group’s recent $60 million investment in Carey International, the industry leader with 2006 revenue of about $250 million.

Part of the lure was Carey’s stake in the corporate market, which, according to Gary L. Kessler, Carey’s chief executive, represents more than 80 percent of its business. The Avis purchase was definitely noticed on both sides of the street: the rental-car companies searching for new ways to grow and chauffeured entrepreneurs who envy the marketing prowess and deep pockets of the big rental car brands.”We’re entering a huge period of consolidation,” Mr. Solombrino said.

The strong market in the United States comes at a time when the major growth is overseas, according to Camella Lobo, a senior editor at Limousine & Chauffeured Transportation magazine, which tracks the industry. As American companies go global, their managements look for the same services abroad as they get at home, she said.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor