A Los Angeles City Council committee Tuesday advanced a motion that would give the city’s Department of Transportation the authority to limit which streets tour buses can use on their routes.
The issue for some residents of the Hollywood Hills, who spoke at the council’s Trade, Travel and Tourism Committee meeting, is that the buses cause long traffic delays, and sometimes block people from getting out of their own driveways when queuing up.
“Tourism has an important role in our city and our local economy, but public safety must come first,” said Councilman David Ryu, who filed the motion. “For far too long, certain tour bus operators have been putting the public and their passengers at risk by making unsafe turns, illegal U-turns, speeding, slowing or suddenly stopping while traveling on narrow hillside streets that were never built to accommodate them.”
The city has marked certain streets where vehicles that weigh more than 6,500 pounds are not allowed to travel, but enforcing that weight rule against tour buses proved to be difficult, Los Angeles Department of Transportation staff members said.
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who chairs the committee, said he recently talked with people about why they were visiting the city, and a majority said they came for Tinseltown.
“People want to see that Hollywood sign that they’ve seen on TV … and they want to get as close to Hollywood as possible,” Buscaino said. “It’s important to strike that balance. It’s also important for us to be responsive to Councilmember Ryu and the residents he serves.”
Buscaino recommended issuing warnings instead of citations to offenders for at least the first 30 days from when the law become effective if it’s adopted by the full council.
“We also know that tourism … is one of our most important industries and most important sources of tax revenue for this city,” Buscaino said, “but we also need to be responsive to the residents that are being impacted, and I believe that we as a council and a city should do all we can to support the residents and this industry.”
Councilman Paul Krekorian said the ordinance is “framed in safety terms, but I’m struggling to understand how the operation of a tour bus is less safe than the operation of … any number of other vehicles of similar size.”
Brian Gallagher, an LADOT principal engineer, said the goal was to find a balance between safety and tourism, and noted that Hollywood Hills streets are narrow and that some tour companies sawed off the tops of their buses or altered them in other ways that made them unsafe.
Representatives from the City Attorney’s Office said state law specifically authorizes the city to restrict tour bus travel.
The motion will now be considered by the full City Council at a date still to be set.
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