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Tuesday, Oct 4, 2022
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Hitting Too Close to Homes

A double-decker, open-air bus rolls up a residential street, stops in front of an actor’s house and blasts theme music from the star’s film or television series. Then the tour narrator uses a bullhorn to talk about the celebrity.

Because that scene can play out repeatedly, all day long, day after day, residents of star-studded neighborhoods aren’t happy.

As a result, Councilman Tom LaBonge wants to ban the use of bullhorns or public address systems on open-air buses that go through residential neighborhoods, and require the tour buses to use passenger headsets. He has asked city administrators for a report on the options for such requirements.

“We’ve had complaints about tour buses stopping more than 100 times a day in front of some homes,” LaBonge said. “I’m not antitourist, but we’ve got to find some way to lessen the impact on neighborhoods.”

Tour buses have been visiting stars’ homes in exclusive neighborhoods around Los Angeles for decades. But the proliferation of open-air and double-decker tour buses over the last five years has led to increased tension.

Some tour operators are installing headsets at cost of $1,000 to $5,000 per bus.

Patrick Hickey, co-owner of Rockin’ Hollywood Tours, said that he recently ordered a stop to the use of public address systems on the four open-air buses his business sends up Beechwood Canyon, one of the star-studded neighborhoods. He’s now taking bids on headset installation.

Vahid Sapir, president of Starline Tours, said his company converted about 25 of its open-air tour buses to headsets earlier this year. He said he was responding to complaints from the cities of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.

“Sure, it’s more expensive and we went through a lot of trouble to design the headset system, since no one else had done it,” Sapir said. “But the quality of the sound our customers now receive is perfect and our customers like it.”

Howard Fine
Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.
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