Peninsula officials fight back on congestion pricing

A proposal to charge motorists a $3 fee for entering and leaving the southern border of San Francisco has drawn the ire of lawmakers on the Peninsula, who have threatened state legislation and imposing their own tolls if The City moves forward with the measure.

Assemblyman Jerry Hill, whose district includes many cities along the Peninsula, said that if the Board of Supervisors doesn’t reject the fee proposal, he’ll introduce state legislation seeking to explicitly block any sort of toll along the two counties’ border.

“This is a completely arbitrary area they’re looking at,” Hill said. “It would be one thing to target the Financial District, which has the greatest traffic problems. But to charge everyone coming in and out of San Francisco is unfair and it doesn’t solve the congestion problem.”

Members of the Board of Supervisors, acting in their roles as directors of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, will decide Tuesday whether to pursue a tolling strategy, which proponents say will cut down congestion and improve transit in The City.

If the Board of Supervisors gives the go-ahead, the TA will continue to develop its ideas for a toll, which wouldn’t be implemented until 2015 at the earliest, said the agency’s ­deputy director, Tilly Chang.

“Although we can’t stop them from doing it, we think it’s premature to begin discussion on state legislation regarding this matter,” said Chang. “We’re years away from any possible action.”

SFCTA officials have been studying a number of different proposals, including charging motorists a $3 fee to cross the San Mateo/San Francisco border, an option being billed as the Southern Gateway toll. All the proposals have a $6 daily cap.

Chang said misinformation — including reports that motorists would be charged more than the $6 daily max — have fueled opposition to the  toll. She said that if the SFCTA moved forward, it could drop any toll proposal that is met with strong resistance from the public.

In San Mateo County, local politicians have said any toll enacted by San Francisco could be duplicated by cities in the Peninsula. Hill said Brisbane and South San Francisco would likely resort to corresponding tolls if The City moved forward with its Southern Gateway proposal.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Driving up costs

Potential congestion pricing options*:

Study 1
– Charge drivers $3 for entering and leaving the northeast cordon during morning and afternoon peak times

Study 2
– Charge $6 for outbound drivers leaving the northeast cordon during afternoon peak times

Study 3
– Charge motorists $3 for entering and leaving points along the southern gateway between San Mateo and San Francisco counties

*All options have a $6 daily max
Source: SFCTA

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