Millions of people flock to Lombard Street in San Francisco every year to experience the steep, winding hill of hairpin turns, and snag pictures of course. The influx of visitors creates a special kind of hell for people who live there and have to get around near this route on any given day, so the city is pushing back with a new proposal that would establish a camera-enforced toll.
As a report by USA Today explains, tourists who wish to drive the windy road rather than walk may soon have to pay. About 6,000 people cruise through Lombard Street every day, according to the outlet. This uptick in drivers on the road creates gridlock, which is why some sites will suggest you hit the street on foot rather than in a car. Many don’t heed this advice though, and city and state officials in California are proposing a new bill that would allow a tolling and reservation system on the street in the hopes of cutting back on the number of people on the road each day.
“We must implement a system that enables both residents and visitors to enjoy the ‘Crookedest Street in the World’,” Assemblyman Phil Ting told The Independent.
If the bill were to pass, CBS News reports that visitors who choose to drive Lombard Street would have to make a reservation between 9am and 9pm local time each day and register their vehicle for a fee of $5. An alternative has been proposed, and includes a similar system with a slightly different pricing strategy. Under that legislation, visitors would pay $5 to drive Lombard Street on a weekday and $10 on a weekend. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that one of the two policies, if passed, would go into effect as early as January 1, 2020. Locals, of course, are exempt in both.
“We’re not being prescriptive. How it needs to be done or when it needs to be done or even if it needs to be done is up to San Francisco,” Assemblyman Ting told the Chronicle. “This is just giving San Francisco control of its city streets.”
Locals are excited about the idea. Greg Brundage, president of the Lombard Hill Improvement Association and resident of the street for 22 years told, The Independent that although this is just “a pilot program,” he and others who live on the street are hopeful legislation will pass in regards to the number of tourists passing through. He said that the cars have an “impact” on the neighborhood in a number of ways, not just traffic.
“The cars really impact the neighborhood because they line up, they back up, they are sitting idling,” he said.
Fees may deter some visitors, but others who really want to get the experience will surely cough up the $5 or $10 to check it out. San Francisco isn’t the first city to come up with such an idea. Venice announced plans to charge tourists making day trips to the ancient city in February. The tourist tax was introduced to fight overtourism, much like San Francisco’s proposed fee for people traveling Lombard Street. All the money will go toward waste management and other costs associated with upkeep of the Floating City.
Whether the tax will deter tourists remains to be seen. But even just a slight decrease in traffic might make a huge difference for locals.