SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – Even on a gloomy Monday afternoon in April, the curvy section of Lombard Street between Hyde and Leavenworth is packed with cars full of tourists who want to experience the Instagram legend in person. Two million tourists a year visit the famous ‘Crookedest Street in the World.’
“My favorite part is this street right there – it just goes like zigzag, it’s like really fun,” said Addison Joya of San Diego.
For Assemblymember Phil Ting, the queue clogging up Russian Hill, even when it’s not peak tourist season is precisely the problem.
“People will be queuing up for about 10 hours at a time just to get their opportunity to drive down,” says Assemblyman Ting.
The San Francisco lawmaker is introducing AB 1605 which would give the city the legislative authority for a pilot program to start charging and requiring that tourists make a reservation to drive down, much like Muir Woods.
“The whole area is affected by the congestion in the summertime,” said Greg Brundage with the Lombard Hill Improvement Association. “It goes about four blocks each way in terms of the traffic jams.”
The cost, under the current plan, would be about five dollars. While there would be no physical gate, there would be license plate readers to scan cars as they head down the hill.
“While we want this treasure to be seen by people all around the world – and we want visitors – we also want to make sure that this neighborhood is livable for the people who do live here,” said Ting.
At least one tourist KPIX 5 spoke to said they think the plan is a bad idea,
“It’s a landmark. We’re here just to check it out. I don’t think they should do that. It should just be open to the public and let us just enjoy the San Francisco,” said Mark Joya of San Diego.
AB1605 still has multiple hurdles. It must pass both houses of the state legislature and be signed into law by Governor Gavin Newson.
As it stands currently, public streets in California cannot be tolled. If AB1605 survives all of that, it will be handed over to the Board of Supervisors and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for implementation.