SAN FRANCISCO
06/04/2012 04:11 pm ET Updated Aug 04, 2012

Alamo Square Residents Battle Massive Influx Of Tour Buses

There's a lot to see in the area surrounding Alamo Square: the gorgeous view of downtown from Eastern side of the park, the house everyone mistakenly assumes was the setting for Full House, the non-stop dance party on The Wiggle.

Given this veritable cornucopia of interesting and visually appealing sites, it makes perfect sense that Alamo Square has increasingly become a hotspot for tour buses over the past decade. But this trend has started to rub the neighborhood's inhabitants the wrong way.

The problem is that said buses clog city streets, block actual bus stops and, because they drop people off and immediately pick them back up right at the park, contribute little to the neighborhood's economy.

A Facebook group called Tour Buses Behaving Badly popped up last month documenting instances of buses doing things like parking in the middle of crosswalks and directing their floods of passengers to alight into the middle of the street.

A recent SFMTA study found that, in the span of just under four hours, 85 buses from 38 different tour companies traveled through the Alamo Square area and many were unable to make turns at certain intersections surrounding the park without encroaching onto oncoming traffic.

It's possible for SFMTA to ban these vehicles from the area outright (as is the agency's policy in popular tourist zones like North Beach). But residents are willing to explore compromises first.

"We all recognize tourism is the No. 1 industry," Alamo Square Neighborhood Association (ASNA) president Lisa Zahner told the San Francisco Examiner. "We're not a bunch of NIMBYs, but we want something that makes more sense for visitors to get more out of the neighborhood than photo-op. In a perfect world, they'd get off at Divisadero and go shopping."

Local Addition reports:

Tour bus owners got scared of the idea that one of San Francisco's most famous areas might become off limits to them. Zahner said that they begged her not to file the request for prohibition. Tour bus companies have been given three months to solve the issue, or else they will be banned from the area.

"They plead to give them three months to fix it. I'm not going stop the process of getting the prohibition--just in case nothing happens," Zahner said.

One company, Super Sightseeing Tours, has already caved to the pressure and started dropping its passengers off on Divisadero Street and having them walk the couple blocks to the park.

The city has also explored constructing a dedicated tour bus parking spot near the park and then charge tour operators for the privilege of using it.

Other proposed restrictions, such requiring all operators first procure a special license and mandating that all passengers wear headsets instead of just having the drivers' explanations of what's going on ("on your left you'll see a gentleman smoking pot on the street") blasted over the loudspeaker, were scrapped at the behest of the city's tourism industry.

One especially San Francisco alternative to the tour bus problem? Swap the means of conveyance. Just last week, a company offering bicycle tours of the area called Streets of San Francisco opened in Hayes Valley.

That's a solution that almost everyone can get behind--at least until they see the hill separating Hayes Valley and Alamo Square. Just one reason why San Francisco is one of the fittest cities in the county.