Beverly Hills loves tourists but not tour buses, killing a plan for new bus stops
Beverly Hills has quietly killed a proposal to allow tour buses to load and unload tourists within its ritzy business district, a plan that had been pushed by the city’s business and tourism leaders.
The proposal had been strongly opposed by small businesses near the proposed site of the bus stop on North Camden Avenue, many of which signed a petition saying they feared a tour bus stop would create litter, foot traffic, vehicle congestion and noise.
“We’ve examined options in the business triangle for many years and there simply isn’t the interest or support from the community needed to move forward,” Beverly Hills Vice Mayor Lester Friedman said.
Instead of a tour bus stop near high-end retailers such as Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Versace, the city has launched a nearly $1-million improvement project for an existing tour bus stop on the outskirts of the business district.
That bus stop, on 3rd Street near an electrical substation and a city parking garage, will get new landscaping, shade and bathrooms. The bathrooms are expected to open Monday.
The plan to add a permanent tour bus stop on the 400 block of North Camden Avenue in front of a medical building was proposed last year by the city’s chamber of commerce and its conference and visitors bureau, both of which promoted the idea as a way to generate foot traffic and sales for bricks-and-mortar shops that have been losing business to online retailers.
The idea won the unanimous support in December of the city’s parking and traffic commission, a citizens panel that makes recommendations to the City Council.
But the plan never got to the City Council. The staff at the city’s community development department killed it this year, saying it had generated too much opposition.
“Everybody pretty much concluded that this is not going to work,” said Aaron Kunz, the city’s deputy director of transportation.
When the idea was brought before the city’s parking and traffic commission, the panel was presented with a petition, signed by 26 merchants and other businesses near the site of the proposed bus stop. The petition said the stop would create “excessive foot traffic, litter, a general atmosphere of commotion and a threat to the privacy of our patients and patrons.”
Tour bus loading zones in the business district have been installed and removed at the request of local merchants several times since the 1990s.
Even without the bus stop, the city had more than 7.5 million visitors last year, a 2% increase over 2016, according to a report released in May by the Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau. Spending by visitors generated more than $16 million in retail sales tax last year, up 4% from 2016, the report said.
Overnight guests in Beverly Hills also generated $48 million in transient occupancy taxes, a 17% increase over 2016.
Visitor spending supports nearly 13,000 jobs in Beverly Hills, the report said.
Julie Wagner, chief executive of the Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau, said she holds out hope that another location would be found for tour buses.
“It’s dead for now until a solution presents itself,” she said of the plan for a tour bus stop.