Lombard Street in San Francisco.

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Fee Proposed To Straighten Out Crowding On San Francisco's Crooked Street

Scott Lettieri
April 15, 2019 - 4:06 pm

SAN FRANCISCO -- On Lombard and Leavenworth, a steady stream of tourists floods the crooked San Francisco street on foot and in cars. The congestion can be maddening for anyone, but it's become especially irritating to residents of the Russian Hill neighborhood. 

Reprieve may be on the way for traffic-weary locals under legislation proposed by city and state officials. 

San Francisco Board of Supervisor Catherine Stefani wants to reduce that stream of tourists down to a trickle.

Stefani, whose district includes Russian Hill, is proposing a fee and reservation system be put in place for visitors to the renowned street. Essentially, drivers would have to pay at toll to ride down the serpentine asphalt of Lombard Street. Stefani claims the toll would bring relief to the surrounding neighborhoods.

"We welcome tourists, who are vital to our economy and our city," she told KCBS Radio. "But they also are presenting serious challenges for this neighborhood…and on a busy day 20,000 people visit here on foot and in their cars.”

However, the city needs the approval of the state legislature before it can impose the toll, which was first discussed in January.

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That's where Assemblyman Phil Ting's newly introduced AB 1605 comes into play. The state bill would give the city of San Francisco the authority to put the payment and reservations system in place for the portion of Lombard Street between Leavenworth and Hyde.  

"We've come to the conclusion that it is time to pursue a reservation system similar to what people have to go through for Muir Woods," sai Ting.

Tourists visiting the street today told KCBS Radio that, for the most part, they were okay with the idea of paying to experience he winding road. If AB 1605 passes, the full board of supervisors will vote on the program which could mean a reservation fee of $5.      

Written by Bejan Siavoshy.