Casino Tour Buses Draw Ire of Koreatown, Pico Union Residents

"We want them out," said Koreatown community leader Scott Suh

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Hetty Chang
    Casino buses such as this one often park along Olympic Boulevard in Koreatown and Pico Union, causing local community leaders to speak out about traffic and safety problems on Thursday, July 24, 2014.

    Community leaders in two Los Angeles neighborhoods demanded that the city do something about tour buses that have for years been picking up and dropping off passengers along a busy street.

    "I have received many complaints from residents, business owners, senior citizens and even drivers (about the buses)," said Scott Suh, president of the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council.

    Suh, who does not know which company operates the buses, said as many as 30 buses in an hour stop along the busy Olympic Boulevard, between Western and Vermont avenues. There, the buses pick up passengers and take them to casinos in Southern California or Las Vegas.

    Passenger Ephraim Salud told NBC4 the bus merely stops in the neighborhood to load and leaves within five minutes.

    But Suh said the buses sometimes stay for hours, cause traffic, take up precious parking spaces, while passengers are disruptive to the neighborhood.

    "The passengers are coming from outside Koreatown," Suh said. "They park their cars there while waiting for buses, eat, throw away trash, urinate in the neighborhood. It impacts residents and businesses."

    He and Pico Union Neighborhood Council President Mark Lee said at a press conference Thursday that locals have been complaining about the buses for years.

    In 2006, the city wrote a letter promising to designate a parking area for the buses, they said, but nothing has been done.

    "Olympic Boulevard is not a parking space and passenger pickup spot," Suh said. "If they want to transport their passengers, they should have a specific location where they pay taxes to the city, an official location. Greyhound buses don't come park their buses on our streets, because it's illegal."

    The security manager at the Koreatown Galleria shopping plaza on Olympic Boulevard provided surveillance video showing buses stopping by red-zone sidewalks to load and unload passengers.

    "They use our restrooms, they make restrooms so dirty," Jose Alzaga, a Galleria security guard said. "They try to shave inside, some people try to take a shower inside."

    The neighborhoods fall in LA City Councilman Herb Wesson's district. A spokeperson for the councilman said Wesson's office is aware of the problem and plans to meet with police and transportation officials to increase enforcement.

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