Community meets over 'party bus' problems

June 11, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Those party buses are a good way to keep drunk drivers off the street, but there's concern those buses bring other problems, including rowdy, often underage passengers.

They come in all sizes and styles and often roam through the streets of San Francisco. They can hold dozens of people and most drink alcohol, many of them minors. Those who live on Polk Street see the party buses all the time. A two-block stretch of Polk is a popular bar-hopping destination where party buses often park and unload their passengers.

"Of course, large crowds and heavily intoxicated and the clubs are turning them away, not letting them in so then they get rowdy and there are fights that ensue, and police are called, and we witness this almost on a weekly basis," said David James Villa-Lobos from the Community Leadership Alliance.

Party buses have become such a concern that members of the community and the party bus industry got together to discuss what can be done to regulate them. Steven Lee has had it with party buses. He's a founding partner of the South of Market club, The Grand.

"Something has to be done because the way it is right now, we're not taking them, so it's not helping anybody," said Lee.

The California Public Utilities Commission has jurisdiction over party buses, but mainly over insurance and licensing issues. Many hope a bill currently being drafted by Assm. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, will address some of their concerns. It would require bus drivers to verify that all people on board are at least 21-years-old. Groups that are underage must have a chaperone. Kendra Jones is operations director for Private Party Bus. She says her company is already making changes.

"We're doing a number of improvements which is having security on board and making sure that we have management and directions of the venue owners before we come to the venues, so I think you know we're in the right direction," said Jones.


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