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Fleets of tourist-packed buses will roam the Hollywood Hills less freely thanks to regulations approved by the L.A. City Council in November that took effect Jan. 1. The new rules ban loudspeakers on the buses and restrict access to narrow, twisty streets, where they clog traffic.
“Our hope is that the city will agree to disallow the buses from entering any small streets in the neighborhood,” says Anastasia Mann, president of the Hollywood Hills Neighborhood Council, which was instrumental in passing the new regulations. Hollywood & Highland, where most Hollywood tours originate, has 25 million visitors annually, more than 1 million of whom board a tour bus.
The City Council regulations followed on state bill AB-25, written by California Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, that allows authorities to restrict the routes buses drive on “if the local authority determines that it is unsafe to operate those vehicles on those routes or streets.” The bill allowed Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu to introduce two motions, Council File 17-115 and Council File 17-116, to address the issues of excessive sound and unsafe routes traveled by tour bus operators.
Specific streets are not named in the motions, but Mann mentions the “small streets in the Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills Post Office area” as well as streets “behind Sunset Plaza” and “all the way through Bel-Air” as areas she, and her council, would like to see off-limits to roaming tours.
The L.A. Department of Transportation, along with LAFD and LAPD, is still studying which hillside roads would be unsafe for buses to travel on, according to an aide to Ryu, who also spearheaded increased security around the iconic Hollywood sign last year.
A spokesperson for industry leader Starline maintains the outfit is “never the tour company that residents complain [has] drivers blasting their commentary through the neighborhood, disembarking their passengers to stand in front of a home or providing audible commentary about a current or past resident.”
Personal injury attorney and Hills resident Bob Mansell is among the many fed up with intrusions from star-gazers, including one wee-hours inquiry. “At 2 a.m., somebody rings my doorbell,” he says. “And it’s two 18-year-old girls asking if Keanu Reeves is home. They were told he lived there by a tour guide.”
Mann links the recent rash of burglaries on Hollywood stars’ homes in the past year to tour guides pointing out private residences, sometimes erroneously. “People that are psychotic about a certain celebrity can get information from these tours, seeking that person out and they don’t even live there,” says Mann. “It’s a continual problem.”
Smaller independent companies, however, are wary of the new act and claim it will hurt their businesses. “Starline has always been in bed with the city,” a tour bus operative, who requested to remain anonymous, with Hollywood Exchange Tours told THR. “They come hard at us, but we’re licensed, too. It’s hurting the small guys.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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