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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

SFMTA Bans Tour Buses From Alamo Square

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 4:55 PM

click to enlarge Public Enemy Number One.
  • Public Enemy Number One.

No longer will Alamo Square residents have to write passive-aggressive Facebook screeds about the slack-jawed tourists who constantly circumnavigate their neighborhood -- a tradition that's endured for nearly as long as Alamo Square has been home to the Painted Ladies. In a standing-room only meeting today, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency voted to ban tour buses from the area.

If camera-slinging intruders want to see the picturesque mansions or the sweeping view from Alamo Square park, they'll have to get off the bus and do it themselves.

The crusade against tour buses is nothing new. In 2011, the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association tried --and failed -- to charge the double-decker shuttles a fee to park at a stop normally dedicated to the 21 Hayes Line.

Last year residents redoubled their campaign by forming a Facebook group, aptly titled "Tour Buses Behaving Badly", in which they jotted down incidents of the double-decker shuttles crowding out Muni or public works vehicles, commandeering crosswalks, veering dangerously in front of cyclists, or otherwise wreaking havoc along the tony stretch of hill. It's successfully raised hackles and drawn attention to the problem, without outright ostracizing the rubberneckers who crowd into Alamo Square each day.

But residents remained embattled. By posting incriminating photos and lobbing complaints at the SFMTA, they've shown that mega-tour buses are as much a fixture as the neighborhood's various tourist sites, including the perfectly manicured park or the Wiggle bicycle route. Residents who've paid top dollar to live there say that tourists sap Alamo Square of everything that made it photogenic in the first place. Moreover, they can't spend a day in the park without some obnoxious chartered junker rumbling by.

And now it's not just tour buses they have to worry about. As we reported previously, San Francisco now harbors at least 18 intra-city shuttle services that squire locals to-and-from their corporate jobs, mostly on the Peninsula. They're now jockeying for space with Muni and making the city's quiet streets look more and more like a circus parking lot, or a tailgate party for Metallica.

This afternoon SFMTA board members squashed the whole debate. At residents' behest, they decided to amend the city's Transportation Code to restrict large charter vehicles from tooling through Alamo Square. Under voter-approved Proposition A, the agency's Board of Directors is now empowered to make such decisions.

But the new law came with a loophole. Before voting, SFMTA staff recommended that employer charters (more commonly known as, ahem, Google buses) be exempt from the new restrictions, meaning they'll still clog the streets with impunity. Thus, the agency solved one problem, but left another to linger.

And then they'll still have this group to contend with.

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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.


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