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Some call them condos on wheels, or mobile party houses. One such vehicle, the Colossus, is more than 40 feet long and holds 30 people. The West Hollywood City Council may now regulate these “oversized limousines”.
The Colossus has caused concern for Councilmember Jeffrey Prang, who authored the motion to explore regulations. He said the Colossus and other limousines like it can cause traffic and parking problems.
“Trying to categorize these things as oversized limos is a charitable description. These are tractor-trailer-style cabs that have been extended to the size of limos,” Prang said. “Some have dance poles inside and jacuzzis, and they are extended to the point where there are some safety issues. They can be very difficult to maneuver on city streets. Unlike tractor-trailers, these don’t bend when they go around corners. The traffic issues are a problem, but they also take up about a half-dozen parking spaces.”
Prang added that vehicles like the Colossus often are not hired to bring visitors to and from West Hollywood, but cruise around the streets without ever stopping.
“These are clubs on wheels,” Prang added. “If you have one of them, you are not interested in going to the club, so they don’t provide any economic benefit for the city. There are all kinds of concerns we have that we will try to address.”
The Colossus is operated by an online company called TheBiggestLimo.com. Calls to the operator were not returned, but the website describes the vehicle as “The Limousine King”. It is built on an International truck chassis, can hold 30 passengers and has six-feet of interior standing room. The vehicle has a VIP room, 11 plasma televisions, a DJ Station with a full mixing system, a club-style disco floor with lighting and fog machines, two stripper poles, and a surveillance room with interior and exterior cameras. The vehicle also is equipped with 52-inch, rear facing video screen available for commercial advertising.
Francisco Contreras, the acting long-range and mobility planning manager for the City of West Hollywood, said staff members have just begun looking into the issues caused by oversized limousines. He added that the evaluation will examine several factors, including their impact on the environment, parking and traffic.
“We are looking at it from various angles, because these long converted limousines could be so long that they could hinder access for emergency vehicles,” Contreras said. ”These vehicles aren’t environmentally-friendly either. They are huge gas guzzlers, and I don’t know if we could regulate that, but we will take a look at that. They are really troublesome. There are limited parking areas in the city, and these things take up two, three, four parking spaces.”
The evaluation will include members of the city’s transportation staff, the public safety staff and other departments, as well as input from the sheriff’s department. Lt. Dave Smith, of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, said the main problem with the limousines is that they block traffic or double-park to pick up or drop off passengers. He added that the department still has a zero tolerance policy in regards to cruising and that applies to limousines.
“We used to have a lot of problems with that in the past, and we did cruising checkpoints back around the early 2000s,” Smith said. “We don’t do the checkpoints any more, but we do issue citations, and the limos could be cited as well.”
Arthur Kesdlian, the owner of One Dream Limousine, said he frequently serves the West Hollywood area, and while he doesn’t have any vehicles as long as the Colossus, he does operate a Lincoln Navigator and Hummer limousine that are 36 to 38 feet long. Kesdlian said he does not believe there needs to be any new regulations for the vehicles, and added that they are providing a valuable service in the city.
“Not only do we bring business there, we are taking a lot of cars off the streets. If you have twenty-five people in a limousine, that means that many people are not driving their cars,” Kesdlian said. “West Hollywood also has a lot of restaurants and nightclubs, and they don’t want people drinking and driving. With the limousines, the people can drink and don’t have to worry about driving.”
Kesdlian added that the parking problem could be solved if the city designated a lot where the limousines could stop.
“It’s not only us that makes a lot of traffic, there are a lot of cars and buses and trucks,” Kesdlian said. “What they should do is have a parking lot for pick up and drop off so we don’t have to drive around.”
The City of West Hollywood is not the only area where oversize limousines and similar vehicles are an issue. In Hollywood, the California Highway Patrol held an enforcement operation over a weekend in December to target limousines and “party buses”. The focus of the operation was to ensure the vehicles were properly licensed, and that safety procedures were being followed. Officers stopped 85 vehicles and issued 47 citations. One of the main issues is that many of the vehicles do not have a partition between the driver and occupants, and alcohol is being served.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, 4th District, said he is monitoring the situation involving the oversized limousines in Hollywood, but added that any attempts at regulation would require a thorough examination.
“I know West Hollywood has a smaller street system than L.A. does, but I would like to see some more background on what the impact is,” LaBonge added. “I don’t particularly like these big, long vehicles, and we have got to absolutely make sure they are properly licensed.”
Contreras added that the city will examine factors such as the number of cars limousines take off the streets and the potential for a reduction in drinking and driving in its final report. He added that there is no timeline to finish the study. Once it is completed, the city council will have the final decision on how to move forward.
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