Governor Newsom vetoes toll system for San Francisco's iconic Lombard Street

SAN FRANCISCO -- Almost one million cars and two million tourists visit Lombard Street every year, a free attraction that many in San Francisco want to change.

But not Gov. Gavin Newsom, who rejected a bill Saturday, that would have allowed San Francisco to enforce a reservation and fee system - charging cars $5 to $10 for a drive down the world-famous crooked stretch.

"I thought it was actually in place and we were going to be charged a toll of some sort," said Robel Acosta, who lives in San Jose and was prepared to pay to drive his car down Lombard Street Sunday.

"For the residents here, it would be great for them. It would probably discourage all this crazy stuff," said Acosta, gesturing to the mob of tourists at the top of the street.

But Acosta agrees with the governor that the proposed pricing program would create social equity issues. "It would keep people who couldn't afford it, away," said Acosta.

"The issue is not the fee, the issue is limiting the number of permits sold, to the capacity of the street," said Steve Taber, the transportation chair of the Russian Hill Neighbors association.

Taber is disappointed the governor rejected the bill, since he views the reservations - not the fees - as the real solution to reducing congestion in his neighborhood. "You could give them away and you would still have a viable program because you would limit them."

Taber also says the neighborhood association is coming up with traffic enforcement alternatives that could make the area more livable and drivable for Russian Hill residents.

"The problem is not going away," said San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting, who introduced the now vetoed bill.

Ting says he'll be sitting down with city officials next week to discuss a plan B.

"We'll just have to go back to the drawing board next year and find a solution that works not just for the city, but also for the state."

In a statement, District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani, also said that she is not giving up: "Despite this setback, I will keep working with our State representatives in Sacramento to address the Governor's concerns in new, revised legislation to alleviate the safety and environmental issues posed by congestion on Lombard Street."
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