By Aaron Blevins, 8/25/2011
Residents Complain Buses Idle too Long, Cause Traffic Jams and Generate Excessive Noise
According to some members of the Los Angeles City Council, the tour guides in Hollywood could use some direction.
Last week, Councilmember Tom LaBonge, 4th District, introduced a motion to explore the feasibility of creating a tour bus management plan and a code of conduct for tour bus operators in Los Angeles.
“We definitely welcome tourism to Hollywood. At the same time, we need safe streets, we need clean air to breathe and we need public safety,” LaBonge said.
He said the issues stem from increased tourism in Hollywood over the last few years. While that is a good thing, it has resulted in traffic congestion, parking issues and more, LaBonge said.
“This is a problem we like to have,” he said.
The council has received complaints about the tour bus operators from residents and businesses in the area. The grievances include concerns about busses idling too long, clogging up traffic or parking illegally, LaBonge said. Residents have also complained about megaphones being used in residential areas, and some tour bus businesses are operating without proper permits and licenses.
The councilman said he would like to work with the tour bus operators and get the problems corrected.
“We can and will do both,” LaBonge said. “And this [motion] is a step in that direction.
“We need a cohesive code of conduct. We need something that brings it all together.”
CitySights LA general manager Basel Tawfik said his company strives to provide quality tours without disturbing the community.
“We’re very strict on our drivers,” Tawfik said.
He said the GPS on CitySights’ busses tell managers how long the busses have been idling. If they idle for 10 minutes, they automatically turn off, Tawfik said. He added that the company is very concerned about the environment, and will get the busses serviced if they begin producing black exhaust.
As for the noise issue, CitySights uses a public-address system with speakers in the seats of the bus, Tawfik said. The company also uses main roads exclusively, though, in order to be competitive, it does subcontract with a company that offers tours of celebrities’ homes, he said.
While the company is new to the area, its New York branch has been in operation for years. Therefore, CitySights is seasoned when it comes to providing tours with little impact on the world around them, Tawfik said.
“We kind of hit the ground running,” he said.
Tawfik said tour bus businesses are a vital part of the Los Angeles economy. The tours offer a look at the area that goes beyond simply walking up and down Hollywood Boulevard, and the guides do plenty of research to further educate their clients, he said.
“It’s more than just sightseeing,” Tawfik said.
LaBonge said city staff members and the operators will meet to resolve the issues as soon as possible.
“I think it’s in everyone’s best interest for a guide to be put in place,” he said.