SFMTA votes to close San Francisco's Lombard Street this summer

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
SFMTA voted Tuesday to temporarily close SF's Lombard Street four weekends during the summer

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- At the height of the tourist season, one of San Francisco's top attractions will see some restrictions.

On Tuesday, officials voted unanimously to keep cars off the crooked part of Lombard Street during certain hours on certain weekends this summer.

Tourists love visiting the crooked street and they will still be able to walk, but only residents and taxis will be able to drive it during the pilot project.

An estimated 2,000 cars weave down the crooked stretch each day during the summer weekends. The line backs up blocks stalling busy Van Ness Avenue. And that's not to mention the people who walk the street and narrow sidewalks. Residents say the chaos has grown over the years.

"The way it is. It's terrible. You know it's going to be like this until somebody gets run over or we've had accidents already," resident Agustin Huneeus said.

"We're just kind of over run. There's no security, there's no order, there's no traffic flow. People stop in the middle of the street," resident Jim Hickman said.

Hickman testified at city hall Tuesday in favor of a pilot project that will ban cars on four summer weekends. Those dates are June 21 through July 13 and July 4 through July 6 from noon to 6 p.m.

One taxi driver says it will be like telling tourists San Francisco is closed.

"People from 200 countries come and say 'oh I love to see it?' How are you going to deny them this thing," Tariq Mehmood said.

"We come from Germany and this is a must do in San Francisco," one tourist said.

"This is really a unique and just a wonderful experience and it shouldn't be closed down," one woman said.

Pedestrians will still be allowed. One tour operator who says he's not critical because he's in the business, blasted the restrictions and the residents.

"I will grant you on the weekends it's a hassle, but you know if you live on Lombard Street, you chose to live on Lombard Street," Reed Kirk said.

The MTA directors voted unanimously to ban cars with one possible exception. They may allow taxis for disabled access.