City officials are looking into ways to charge a fee to drivers on the part of Lombard Street often referred to as San Francisco’s “crookedest street.” (James Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Proposal to charge vehicles for access to ‘crookedest street’ hits Governor Newsom’s desk

Will San Francisco be allowed to charge drivers to twist and turn down the “crookedest street?”

The future of Lombard is in Governor Gavin Newsom’s hands.

On Thursday, the California State Assembly approved Assembly Bill 1605, authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), which would allow The City to develop a pricing program pilot for Lombard Street.

“It has become increasingly difficult to manage the crowds and traffic congestion on Lombard Street,” Ting said in a statement. “Neither the presence of parking enforcement officers nor the closure of the crooked segment has changed the current situation. AB 1605 offers a fix worth trying to improve public safety and the quality of life for residents.”

Newsom has until mid-October to sign the bill into law or veto it.

The average daily traffic on Lombard Street’s crooked portion — which is internationally famous and a major tourist draw — has grown from 1,560 vehicles in 1999 to more than 2,700 vehicles a day by 2015. Vehicles approaching Lombard, or waiting their turn along Lombard before the crooked portion, often sit for hours, creating traffic havoc for anyone living in the area.

Neighbors reached out to local lawmakers for a solution.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority is now studying and developing a paid reservation program for Lombard Street, between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets. The hope is that a timed reservation system would cut down on the long vehicle lines and the number of Lombard drivers in general.

That reservation system is not yet fully developed, but potentially could be supported by a website, mobile app or on-street kiosks, according to Ting’s office.

The bill also requires the transportation authority to maintain Lombard Street access for low-income visitors, people with disabilities and seniors, and to develop regular reports on the program’s effectiveness.

“I’m grateful to Assemblymember Ting for his leadership and to the California Legislature for supporting AB 1605,” Supervisor Catherine Stefani said in a statement. Stefani’s district includes the crooked segment of Lombard Street.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously backed a resolution authored by Stefani in support of AB 1605.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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