From Staff and Wire Reports
HOLLYWOOD — City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell walked along the tourist area of Hollywood Boulevard Monday to remind tour-bus company operators that a new law prohibits them from selling sight-seeing tickets on city sidewalks.
The City Council unanimously approved the ordinance in September. It took effect Sunday.
Sidewalk vending of other types of goods and services was already illegal throughout the city, but tour-bus companies had been exempted — until now.
“Tour operators set up on the sidewalk with no permit, they block the sidewalk,” O’Farrell said. “They sell tours and people pay cash.”
Tour sales solicitation is common along tourist-filled Hollywood streets, prompting some complaints of aggressive sales tactics. The new restriction is aimed at controlling what O’Farrell called a “wild west of tour sales.”
Tour companies will no longer be allowed to set up portable kiosks on the sidewalks, but must operate on private property — such as a Hollywood Boulevard storefront.
“This is a public safety issue,” O’Farrell said. “It’s a quality-of- life issue. And we need to really raise the standards here in Hollywood.”
A coalition of business leaders, tour bus companies, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Improvement District worked on the new law hoping to restore a sense of order and civility to the sidewalks of Hollywood, OFarrell said.
“We want to create a positive and friendly environment for visitors and pedestrians,” he added. “This ordinance represents an important step in achieving that goal by including tour bus operators in the city’s existing law regulating commercial solicitation and sales in the public right of way, which includes the city sidewalks and streets.
Over the last several years, Hollywood Boulevard has seen an increase in the amount of tour bus operators that have solicited ticket sales on the historic sidewalk and street. With ever increasing competition over the past few years, tour bus companies have become particularly aggressive in soliciting customers on the boulevard and sidewalks throughout Hollywood.
The situation has created a circus-like atmosphere that leaves a bad impression on Hollywood visitors and has inhibited economic growth for businesses that play by the rules, O’Farrell added.