SF May Soon Charge For A Drive Down Lombard's 'Crooked Street'

The "crooked" block of Lombard Street, between Hyde and Leavenworth streets, has long been a favorite destination for tourists, who love to wind their way downhill.

But it's also a source of frustration for people who live on or near the iconic block, and have to deal with regular traffic backups on Lombard that can reach as far as Van Ness, not to mention massive crowds of pedestrians where the winding street spills out at Leavenworth.

Now, according to the Examiner, Supervisor Mark Farrell, whose district includes the street, is looking at ways to create reservations—and charge toll fees—to those who want to make the trip down Lombard. 

Over the years, Lombard has become a bigger and bigger draw: in 2015, an average of 2,700 vehicles per day took trips down the crooked street, nearly double the 1,560 that traversed it in 1999. 

So Farrell has asked the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (CTA) to study a possible toll, with the goal of easing traffic on the street. The street can currently handle only about 220 vehicles per hour, and regulating it and adding charges could prevent backups when it's overflowing with drivers. 

Photo: Glen Bowman/Flickr

While the CTA may take as long as two years to develop a full proposal, a tentative plan would call for the same camera technology used to capture license plates for tolls on the Golden Gate Bridge to be installed on Lombard. Visitors could also reserve 30-to-60-minute slots to drive on Lombard in advance, using their FasTrak account or license plate number; once the street reaches capacity, drivers would be told to move on. 

To monitor the area, the city might add more DPT officers, or hire off-duty SFPD officers as security. Those officers would also be tasked with boosting enforcement on tour bus companies, which often park illegally in the area. 

However, charging a toll on a public street will require Farrell and his supporters to have state-level legislation enacted. Farrell says that new state senator Scott Wiener is amenable to the idea, but it likely means that action on Lombard is still years away. 

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Sf may soon charge for a drive down lombard s crooked street