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

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

It's a big change that could make life a lot easier for people who live there. It means tourists may one day need reservations to drive down it.

As of right now, as long as you're willing to line up on Lombard and wait your turn, you can drive down the San Francisco landmark for free.

But the city and neighborhood association are 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. He 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. He 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 you drive down without a reservation, you could be billed a higher amount.

Farrell says another study is needed to determine these 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," one cab driver said. He's worried the toll will be bad for business. "For me to charge them extra money for this, really bad for the city."

Other tourists feel Lombard 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."

But remember, the whole purpose of the toll is to deter at least some of the tourists from jamming up Russian Hill, not to find a price that everyone likes.
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