Alamo Square residents tired of tour buses


Tour buses aren't allowed in many of San Francisco's neighborhoods, for example, the Marina, Pacific Heights, and North Beach. People who live near the Painted Ladies want their neighborhood added to that list.

The scene, made famous on the big and small screens, is the backdrop for a debate playing out in real-life San Francisco. Sue Valentine has lived near the iconic Painted Ladies for 20 years. She and her Alamo Square neighbors presented their concerns about tour buses to the SFMTA Friday morning.

"We want a complete ban of buses in the Alamo Square Historic District," she said.

The multi-million dollar Victorians with the city skyline behind them are one of the city's largest tourist draws. Neighbors say the massive double-decker double-parked tour buses bring traffic, noise, and pollution, all day, every day.

"There were 10 buses in 11 minutes starting at 10:30 Sunday morning. So just try that out for yourself. How would you like to live in the neighborhood in which there were a bus every minute Sunday morning," asked Owen O'Donnell, and Alamo Square resident for 40 years.

Last summer, the city's board of supervisors passed legislation to limit how loud tour guide sound systems can be. About a dozen tour companies joined together to form the San Francisco Tour Operators Association (SFTOA). Most of them don't even go through Alamo Square anymore.

An old map for the "Hop On, Hop Off" tour shows a route on Hayes Street. The new route goes on McAllister to the wider and more bus-friendly Divisadero Street. The few San Francisco-based tours that still go through "Postcard Row" say they now park blocks away and have the tourists walk to the square.

"The theory is we love tourism in San Francisco, just not in our neighborhood,' and there's a point at which it just becomes an isolated incident, one after another. We love you, just move over. We love you, just move over and suddenly, we just can't take visitors to the neighborhoods they want to see," said Daniel Oppenheim with the SFTOA.

A new plan will go to the board at a later date.

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