CFAH

Postcard%20Row.jpg
Nearly two years in the making, proposed legislation which would ban tour buses with seating for nine or more from operating within San Francsico’s Alamo Square Historic District, including along Postcard Row, will be reviewed by SFMTA’s Policy and Governance Committee this Friday.
Championed by the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association, if the proposed legislation is supported by the Committee it’s on to SFMTA’s Board of Directors for a vote.
In the words and window of one Alamo Square neighbor:


Tour%20Bus%20Sign.jpg

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Craig

    That sign is at Scott and Fulton. The plague of buses is much, much worse at the opposite corner.
    I can see the point, but tourism is truly the golden goose here in SF. Surely the board is not so stupid as to take a stab at that goose?

  2. Posted by anony

    Don’t forget, the #1 employer in San Francisco is tourism (much more than “tech” btw). I am not sure it is a good idea to bite the hand that feeds the city.

  3. Posted by anon

    ^Not in dollars. “Numbers” of employees matters very little, and tourism is very low compared to other industries when talking dollars.

  4. Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

    No problem is so great it can’t be solved by an arbitrary ban.

  5. Posted by eddy

    Smaller vehicles should be allowed but the massive buses, most of which are 3/4 empty should be killed, and not allowed in the residential parts of the city for tourist purposes. Again, let smaller buses and alternative tourist transit options exists, just kill the big old lingering buses.

  6. Posted by John Cook

    What about an exception for local companies that operate 11 or fewer buses?

  7. Posted by Drew

    First-world problem. I love the tourists.

  8. Posted by wc1

    Why not have some daytime bus parking around the square?
    Oh woe as me, I live in/near some of the most famous houses in the US…

  9. Posted by Jackson

    This proposed ban originated with one of the owners who lives in one of the “Painted Ladies” who pushed it through the Alamo Square Neighbors Association.
    I’ve never understood why someone would move into one of the most visited sections of the City and then complain about all the many tourists and tour buses.
    As it is now, the only legal tour bus parking is at the northwest corner of Divisadero and Fell, four blocks away from the the “Painted Ladies”
    Other world-class cities seem to deal with tourists, without complaints, but not San Francisco.
    And yes, I live in the Alamo Square neighborhood.

  10. Posted by Jackson

    I also neglected to point out the tour bus parking is on the opposite side of the very steep Hayes Street hill.

  11. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Buses are public transit. Instead of the bus, how would you like 200 rental cars driven by bewildered foreigners circling the park?

  12. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    @Jimmy
    Well there is the 21 Hayes, but then there are the tourist buses stopping or slowing on the hill blocking traffic and, with there PA systems, creating a bunch of noise, and finally there are all the Silicon Valley buses that stop at Hayes and Steiner to pick up and drop off all day.
    Mix in the private vehicle traffic (aka gawkers) and just the everyday residents/commuters on narrow streets with a blind hill top and things get messy pretty fast there.

  13. Posted by David

    Ah, NIMBYs

  14. Posted by lyqwyd

    I think a ban is heavy handed, but I go by there often enough to understand why people are upset. It’s a bit of a mess there, the buses are a constant presence, quite noisy, and frequently blocking traffic. I would recommend that some parking spaces be dedicated to the tour buses, and that they be required to lower the volume of the PA systems.
    Of course it will really come down to enforcement, and the SFPD is not known for enforcing the law. They could probably solve everything by simply enforcing existing laws in that area, so I’m not sure any new regulations will be effective.

  15. Posted by John Cook

    @ Jackson and @wc1: I think the legal term for the phenomenon you discuss is “coming to the nuisance.”

  16. Posted by redseca2

    A ban is heavy handed, but the typical result of when something was first tolerated and then gets a little, or a lot, out of whack.
    At times on a Saturday or Sunday, every 5th vehicle on Haight Street between Masonic and Stanyan is now a double decker bus, usually half full on the top deck, always empty on the lower deck, and always stopping in traffic every block or so, so that everyone can take photos from the comfort of the seats. These run the gamut of shiny new custom vehicles to very sketchy contraptions.

  17. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    There’s usually a cop at the top of Lombard St. directing traffic, just do that here to keep things moving. Why add a stupid regulation?

  18. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    I know this seems like a bit of a NIMBY issue but, IMHO, it’s a bit broader than that.
    While I agree with the comments that a ban/regulation is kind of heavy handed I seem to remember that 6-9 months ago the immediate residents did try and come to some understanding with the tour companies and there has been some pressure on the big white silicon valley buses to stop using the muni stops, like Hayes and Steiner, to alleviate just this kind of situation.
    Unfortunately, I don’t think those efforts have made any noticeable impact for the area residents.
    And by area residents I include Alamo Square, part of Hayes Valley, NoPa, and parts of Western Addition. The traffic jams on the hill impact residents for several blocks who use Hayes as alternative to Fell or take the 21 Hayes.

  19. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    People need to get to work. The alternative to corporate shuttles is more single-occupant vehicle traffic on 101. This is emblematic of the utter failure of San Mateo County’s transit policies! Caltrain is on the verge of bankruptcy and the highways are flooded with private corporate shuttles.
    Blame Burlingame for blocking BART in the 1960s, don’t penalize the people who are just trying to get to work and back.

  20. Posted by justme

    I’ve never understood why someone would move into one of the most visited sections of the City and then complain about all the many tourists and tour buses.

    Sort of like moving into an industrial area and then complaining about the trucks making noise.
    Somehow it seems to happen all the time.

  21. Posted by i eat bicyclists

    bans like this are kind of dumb, but i have to say i hate tour buses everywhere in the city. Why is Alamo Square so special? I think we should ban tour buses of >10 people all across the city.

  22. Posted by Grace

    These buses need to be managed and controlled. I’m all for tourism but we are bordering on ‘tacky – as in fishermans wharf tacky’ with the number of buses, go carts, pedi cabs and segways on our streets. SF is not disneyland and the sheer volume of tourist rides are impacting the quality of life for SF residences. How many half full tour buses do we need clogging up our streets? And who is in control of issuing these permits? And those ‘BIG Buses’ have got to go. I’m glad that the residents are speaking up!

  23. Posted by Frank C.

    This is not nimbyism at all. Fully agree on legislation, and yes, I lived in that area (Haight) for 9 years.
    I can tell you that as of 2003, when I left NYC after 11 years, it had a *lot* of trouble with terrible tour bus operators, e.g. letting noisy and toxic diesel buses (old and without modern pollution controls) idle for long periods of time near homes or offices….just because they could. There was even one operator that had multiple accidents (can’t remember name) but resisted shut down until the City Council acted. I bet laws have changed.

  24. Posted by noodle

    It could be worse. They could live next to Tom’s Restaurant.

  25. Posted by Patrick

    Getting soooo tired of these self-important neighborhood groups trying to ban their pet peeve.

  26. Posted by Elaine

    I live at Pierce and Hayes and can tell you the buses on Saturdays and Sundays make me want to cry. They are always parked with their engines running for up to 30 minutes at a time. Beyond the noise, I can’t open my windows on weekends, ever, due to the pollution from these massive buses. In addition, I can’t even get into my garage half the time because they are parked 2-3-4 deep!
    It is so sad! 🙁

  27. Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

    This idea that you’re a NIMBY if you dare to object to anything that’s going on in your neighborhood is both tiresome and laughable. It’s nothing more than a knee-jerk insult unsuccessful and intellectually lazy people reach for whenever they read a story involving residents in attractive locations, regardless of the merits of their complaints.
    The city doesn’t own neighborhoods, the homeowners in the neighborhood own the neighborhood. Of course they are entitled to petition for changes to laws, regulations and facilities. If you don’t like the idea of an outright ban (neither do I) then take it as evidence that earlier complaints and requests for better management of tour bus traffic have not been effectively addressed, let alone acknowledged.

  28. Posted by EBGuy

    Maybe what’s needed is some well placed pedestrian drawbridges over the streets. Perhaps the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association can pass the hat.

  29. Posted by anon

    The city doesn’t own neighborhoods
    Um, incorrect. The city owns neighborhoods in the same way that a county owns cities and a state owns counties and the federal government owns states. The city absolutely has higher authority over neighborhoods, and the neighborhood can’t simply decide to “go it alone” lol lol lol lol lol.

  30. Posted by Justin

    “Not in dollars. “Numbers” of employees matters very little, and tourism is very low compared to other industries when talking dollars.”
    Where is your source “anon”? Tourism and “Leisure Industries” is the largest in dollars as well according to sites I am going to online. Remember, a lot of the restaurant and retail dollars are from tourists as well. Although the average Socketsite discussion is focused on “tech” and southern neighborhoods, the large majority of this city is not employed in the Twitterloin industries. Complaining about tourists at Alamo Square is like complaining about the fish smell at Fishermen’s Wharf.

  31. Posted by sj

    I first moved to this neighborhood 13 years ago and there were plenty of tour buses then too, I actually like it – it’s fun to live somewhere that thousands of visitors want to see.
    It sounds like a couple cranks in ASNA are annoyed at tourists enjoying my neighborhood and want them to leave. There are plenty of us in the ‘hood that have no ties to ASNA and no ties to the [people] who live in the westerfield house. (Both of which also support giving free curb-side parking to rich folk – based on their opposition to residential parking permits ). We love our neighborhood, those guys are just way out-of-touch.

  32. Posted by i eat bicyclists

    getting back to tech, i am also against the google, apple and genentech buses. they clog the streets as well.

  33. Posted by anon

    @Justin –
    As with most cities, the largest employment categories are government (all levels) and healthcare. Since SF has many more colleges than most cities, education also stacks up there.
    The census is your friend, and all data can be found here: http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml
    The largest employment categories in SF are:
    1. Professional and business services
    2. Education and health services
    3. Government
    4. Leisure and hospitality
    I don’t think that I need to tell you that the average wage in those top three categories is higher than the wage in the fourth category.
    I agree that tech is not the top industry in the city, and never stated that it was (though many tech jobs would fall into that professional and business services category).

  34. Posted by DaneSF

    Maybe I should move onto Lombard and complain that too many cars drive down my street…

  35. Posted by duxman

    well said anon. stopping buses is NIMBYISM and literally the definition of acronym- Not in my backyard. to fight to stop people from enjoying the city, even if they are a tourist is hilarious. maybe harley davidsons should be banned for the noise. move to sonoma if you can’t take a bus driving down your neighborhood street. that is a classic NIMBY issue in SF. very annoying.

  36. Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

    Someday when you own a home and try to raise a family in it and in a neighborhood you may understand the urge to get involved in the plans and decisions that shape the quality of life in the neighborhood. But then again you may not. It would behoove you to understand that not every citizen’s petition or objection is an old-money heiress trying to protect her views. But I suppose that’s too much to expect.
    I don’t have a dog in this fight but if there were tour buses constantly circling, idling and obstructing traffic where I live I’d sure as hell be up in arms about it, and I would wear your infantile NIMBY slur like a badge of honor.

  37. Posted by anon

    I don’t have a dog in this fight but if there were tour buses constantly circling, idling and obstructing traffic where I live I’d sure as hell be up in arms about it, and I would wear your infantile NIMBY slur like a badge of honor.
    The point, of course, is that this isn’t some kind of new thing. This is one of the most famous neighborhoods in the country and has been for decades. If you didn’t know that there’d be tourists around when you bought, you didn’t do your homework.

  38. Posted by anonandonagain

    makes sense to me anon. but of course, not to gentrified who wants to keep an exclusive neighborhood even more exclusive.
    to gentrified, NIMBY is actually a word. not a slur. a slur would be calling you a jackass or a pathetic whiner which is not what i said. for your info though- i do have a family in a neighborhood that has tour buses and I am actively involved in my neighborhoods. NIMBY favorites of stopping any successful “chain” businesses , stopping other people from enjoying one of the most visited city’s in the world, banning pet stores or plastic bags or goldfish, stopping a building because a seagull may hit it, or the other progressive horse shit of the day does not make you some citizen hero. It just makes you annoying most of the time and nine out of ten times, probably a pretty serious buzz kill. start a citizens petition for more homeless shelters, more mental health, a cleaner city perhaps, not some pathetically waste of peoples time like stopping a bus of people enjoying themselves. my guess is you likely aren’t even from here but if you are for all of us, spend some time on something that helps people and get some ear plugs.

  39. Posted by nancydrew99

    The previous decades of having a few tourists come by and take photos of the view is very different from the high number of tour buses idling along the park these days. Heck, in my neighborhood (Inner Richmond) in the past year the number of (nearly empty) double decker buses going up and down my street has probably quadrupled. My street is used as a bypass for Park Presidio traffic – it’s a new thing and certainly something to consider when buying a house or moving into a neighborhood. I’m a longtime resident and the explosion of tour buses in the city is annoying. Maybe this wouldn’t exist if muni were better? Or it were easier to drive (a rental car)? At a minimum, I wish there were fewer buses with more people, versus the high number of empty buses circling the City. As to Alamo Square…I used to live a block away and there were not as many huge buses circling/idling/blocking traffic five years ago as there is now. I’d be upset, too.

  40. Posted by anon94123

    All this private bus traffic throughout the city, as mentioned above, is a direct result of not having a good underground metro system for locals and tourists to use. We see more tour bus traffic on residential streets in the Marina including streets that I never used to see tour bus traffic on like Prado, Casa, Cervantes, Capra, Jefferson and Beach.
    MUNI, as it currently exists, is not an option for most visitors (slow, dirty, confusing, etc.) for as my friends from Munich recently told me after taking a MUNI bus one time, “Never Again!”

  41. Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

    It’s irrelevant to this discussion that tour bus traffic is up dramatically and that the buses get away with violating traffic laws. All that matters is that homeowners near Alamo Square deserve to be miserable because they are better off than anon & co.

  42. Posted by anon

    All this private bus traffic throughout the city, as mentioned above, is a direct result of not having a good underground metro system for locals and tourists to use. We see more tour bus traffic on residential streets in the Marina including streets that I never used to see tour bus traffic on like Prado, Casa, Cervantes, Capra, Jefferson and Beach.
    Paris and Barcelona, two cities with excellent underground transit systems, are seeing a massive increase in these tour buses.
    The cause is mostly that tourists have gotten fat. Why walk around a city when you can plop your butt down in a seat and be driven around to see stuff?
    I was in Barcelona a few weeks ago and was completely amazed at the number of these buses, where I feel like they were completely nonexistent even just a couple years ago.

  43. Posted by Mark F.

    “All this private bus traffic throughout the city, as mentioned above, is a direct result of not having a good underground metro system for locals and tourists to use.”
    Yes, just come up with the $50 billion or so it would cost to construct such a system and get around the fact that people would not like the city dug up for 15 years.

  44. Posted by anonandonagain

    It’s irrelevant to this discussion that tour bus traffic is up dramatically and that the buses get away with violating traffic laws. All that matters is that homeowners near Alamo Square deserve to be miserable because they are better off than anon & co.
    waaaaaa. if you are miserable because of a tour bus you to get out more. you probably want to ban cars on market street. isn’t there a lot of bike traffic that can slow drivers and pedestrians at times too? should we ban bikes too? you know what? i hate airplane engine noise so we should ban panes. how about fat ass people that fly to LA when they could drive. Harley davidson engines are loud. dogs parking. man, why can’t we all just live in a city of 875,000 people with no noise. gentrified, please leave. you need to move to a rural area because you have had it with an urban lifestyle and realize there is likely now way you could live that life because you need everything done for you anyway. please leave. nice assumption that alamo square residents life is somehow so much better than the rest of us that they are entitled to no tour busses. thanks for making it clear you really are a nimby…

  45. Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

    In spite of the foul language and childish personal attacks, I hope the moderators leave up that last post. It proves so many points.

  46. Posted by anon

    how about fat ass people that fly to LA when they could drive.
    I don’t get this one. How is it less lazy to drive than fly? People should be biking to LA.

  47. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    What does it prove gentrified? That 1 AM straw man attacks are usually not very well formed? You do realize that this was a Straw Man right?

  48. Posted by Rillion

    I was driving by Alamo Square last night and I noticed the house on the NE corner of Scott & Fulton had a large banner arguing against permit parking for the neighborhood. So it appears there are a couple items being debated by house signs in the neighborhood.

  49. Posted by NJ

    Why would’t residents want permit parking? The annual cost of a permit, or the default 4-permit limit per address, or something else?
    I have always lived in permitted parts of SF and my only gripe has been that we were not allowed a permit for our nanny, while many other parents pull various shenanigans to get permits for their nannies. Otherwise, I’m pro-permit.

  50. Posted by anon

    ^Parking should be guaranteed as a free right in the constitution. I guarantee the founders would want it there.

  51. Posted by Rillion

    “I guarantee the founders would want it there.”
    As a strict constructionist I believe that any right to parking should only apply to parking for horses.

  52. Posted by anon

    ^Good thing my car has 200 horsepower then. That’s a load of free parking spots for me.

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