San Francisco tourists may have to pay toll to drive down Lombard Street

SAN FRANCISCO -- There's a new twist for Lombard Street in San Francisco. Drivers could have to pay to access the "crookedest" street in the city.

Currently, as long as someone is willing to line up on Lombard Street and wait their turn, they can drive down the San Francisco landmark for free.

But the city and neighborhood association were working to change that by installing a reservation and toll system to keep at least some of the tourists away from the neighborhood.

"Summer and weekends and so on, traffic can back up five blocks down Lombard Street," neighbor Steve Taber said.

Taber lives three blocks from the crooked street and is one of many neighbors fighting to relieve tourist traffic to make the neighborhood more livable.

"People who live on Lombard Street can't even get in and out of their own homes because of the lineup of traffic," he said.

"Two million visitors a year, double what Muir Woods gets, we have zero infrastructure in place," Supervisor Mark Farrell said.

Farrell wants that infrastructure to come in the form of Fastrak toll readers and cameras on existing light poles as well as a reservation system.

If visitors were to drive down Lombard Street without a reservation, they could be billed a higher amount. Farrell said another study was needed to determine the costs.

"We're not targeting a dollar amount. It's really about what will reduce the demand to drive down the streets," Farrell said. "We are going to use those fees to increase police presence in the area, increasing the ambassadors, increasing the MTA officers that will actually ticket people."

"Bad idea, bad idea. San Francisco is too expensive for tourists," said a cab driver who was worried the toll would be bad for business. "For me to charge them extra money for this, really bad for the city."

Other tourists feel Lombard Street might be worth a small price tag.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so maybe probably I would. It depends how much," one said. "No more than $10, I wouldn't pay more than that."
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