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SF to study plan for charging access to crooked Lombard Street

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Cars move down Lombard Street in San Francisco, Calif., May 20, 2014. (Mike Koozmin/2014 S.F. Examiner)

A transportation board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a study of a proposal to charge for vehicle access to San Francisco’s crookedest street, Lombard Street.

That sets The City on the legislative path to study — and perhaps eventually approve — a charge for cars to enter the popular tourist attraction.

But the approval took some twists and turns before the vote, as Board of Supervisors President London Breed, also a San Francisco County Transportation Authority board member, took the plan and its authors,to task.

Tourists are increasingly the victims of crimes in tourist areas all over The City, Breed said, and that’s something she didn’t see addressed in the plan.

“When they come here and they visit the crooked streets, when they visit Twin Peaks, when they visit the Painted Ladies, [they experience crime],” she told fellow SFCTA board members, who are all also supervisors.

“I personally don’t believe a charge is going to change that,” she said.

SEE RELATED: SF to consider charging money to drive on ‘crookedest street’

Supervisor Mark Farrell, whose district includes the Marina and Russian Hill neighborhoods, is the main author and backer of the plan to charge on Lombard Street, which he said is meant to reduce traffic congestion.

Charging for use of Lombard Street and implementing a reserve system may ease traffic woes for neighbors and tourists alike, he and the SFCTA have said.

Despite Breed’s concern that charging for access to Lombard Street may not impact crime, Farrell defended the proposal Tuesday.

“I’ve been asking for more [police] officers for years, and Captain (David) Lazar is amazing, but you know what, this isn’t a high priority when there’s violent crime,” Farrell said. “We have to accept that.”

The vote before the SFCTA commission Tuesday, he said, “is committing to studying the issue. We’re not getting to pricing now.”

Ultimately the SFCTA amended language in the legislation to remove the word “implementation,” which Breed said may imply that this program could start soon.

Nonetheless, the board voted unanimously to approve the study of the Lombard Street proposal.

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