Several Westminster residents are uniting against casino buses that have been picking and dropping people off at Westminster's Elden F. Gillespie Park. Claiming these buses are detrimental to public safety and traffic, residents–led by parents of Scout Troops–have created a petition directed to the City of Westminster hoping to achieve an ordinance banning the buses.
"This severely impacts the Scout activities consisting of young children in several Scout Troops, community sport teams, family picnics, and park goers," the petition reads. Because the large buses take up parking, "both the park-goers and the surrounding residential areas struggle to look for alternative parking space. Kids and families now have to walk–sometimes jay-walk–across major streets to get to the park."
Additionally, the petition states that these casino buses do not benefit who anyone who uses the park except for casino-goers.
These residents say that, though San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino lists Saigon City Market in Westminster and Han Nam Bank in Garden Grove as pickup locations, they've been seeing their buses arrive at Elden F. Gillespie Park every hour on the weekends. They say these casino buses were also using the park as a park-and-ride location last year and stopped temporarily when residents contacted Westminster's Parks and Recreation Department. But since the beginning of this summer, everything's been undone.
"At one time, we were asking the casino bus driver not picking up the customers at the park," explains Scout Troop parent and petition organizer Lu Ta. "Some casino goers became aggressive and told us that we have no right as there is nothing prohibiting them." The petition also states that parents are not comfortable having some casino-goers near their children.
Petitioners are hoping for an ordinance to be passed just like the ones passed in San Gabriel, Monterey Park, Rosemead, and other cities, subjecting violators to fines. In San Gabriel, casino buses came under scrutiny after an accident left one person dead and 73 injured. The ordinance in Rosemead was passed after residents complained about safety, trash, and parking issues.
Assistant City Manager Chet Simmons says the city has not received a petition regarding casino buses. However, the city has enacted an ordinance restricting where they can park and operate. "There have been similar issues in the past related to casino bus operators and where they park," Simmons says. "City staff will continue to look into this issue."