City staff recommended to Alhambra City Council Monday an ordinance prohibiting tour buses from stopping on public and private property in the city. While council members agreed that tour buses should be regulated on city streets, members said that private property owners should have the right to host the vehicles.
The proposed ordinance is a result of residents' complaints regarding the tour and casino buses. Alhambra Code Enforcement has received 24 complaints about the buses since July 22, 20 of which were collected in a petition, according to Director of Administrative Services Chris Paulson. Complaints range from a lack of street parking and increased traffic to bus patrons even stealing fruit from front lawns.
In addition to complaints residents have filed, Paulson presented issues staff members have identified, including the tour buses idling on streets on which they are not allowed to stop, the large amount of parking tour customers take up on residential streets, noise and exhaust pollution, lack of zoning and planning approval, and a lack of trash and restroom facilities at parking stops. Some patrons also come back to the city looking for “vice and illicit services,” Paulson added.
City staff recommended prohibiting tour buses from stopping, standing, loading, and unloading on public and private property. Neighboring cities such as Rosemead, San Gabriel, and Monterey Park have prohibited buses from idling on public streets, but Paulson noted that those policies allow buses to make verbal or written agreements with private property owners to park in their lots.
“This is a very loose policy, there’s nothing really being enforced," Paulson said.
Monday's proposed ban would not apply to buses hired by non-profit organizations, the city, or any public agency such as a school district, said Paulson.
While City Council agreed that the city should regulate tour buses on public property, members said that private property owners should have the option of applying for a business permit to host the vehicles. Paulson noted that not only would the property owners have to provide parking but also trash and restroom facilities.
Councilman Steven Placido argued that private property owners should be allowed to provide tour bus parking if they have the space, and that the compromise may satisfy both residents and business owners. “If, let’s say, a business or a property owner has the ability to park these cars, then they could potentially charge a fee for that,” Placido said. “I think it might fulfill a need while keeping everyone safe and providing the parking that they need. I think it might be a middle ground."
Councilman Stephen Sham agreed with Placido. “Certainly I support regulating on public property and public roads," Sham said. “I think private property owners should have the opportunity. If they are able to get enough parking, they should have the rights to operate a business here.”
Councilman Luis Ayala also agreed but said he was not sure there is enough vacant private space in Alhambra to meet tour bus needs. “It could be a good opportunity for someone out there who has an empty lot," Ayala said, "which I can’t think of right now.”
Monday's meeting was an adjourned regular meeting. City Council usually meets every second and fourth Monday of the month on the second floor of City Hall: 111 S. First St., Alhambra, Calif., 91801. The next regular meeting will be on Oct. 13 at 5:30 p.m.